Best YA Books of 2013!

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’tis the season for ‘Best Of’ lists with plenty of suggestions for the best books of 2013! With so many great books out there, it can be a daunting task to pick out the best of the best. After spending a few weeks compiling titles from various sources, I came up with the books that appear on the most lists. Last year’s pick for best YA book of the year was John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, which seemed to appear on every best books list published.

I go to my usual sources of book reviews (School Library Journal, Booklist, etc.), then check out a few other media outlets that have year-end reviews as well. Here are my Top 10 Best YA Books lists of 2013…

Amazon.comBest Books of 2013 > Teen and Young Adult
Barnes & NobleThe Best New Books of 2013 For Teens
The Boston GlobeBest Young Adult Books of 2013
Booklist2013 Editors’ Choice > Books For Youth
Horn BookFanfare: Our Choices for the Best Books of 2013
Kirkus ReviewsBest Teen Books of 2013
National Public RadioNPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide to 2013’s Great Reads > Young Adult
The New York TimesNotable Children’s Books of 2013
Publishers WeeklyBest Books of 2013 > Children’s Fiction and Children’s Nonfiction
School Library JournalBest Books 2013 > Fiction and Nonfiction

Each list is a little different — some include just fiction or nonfiction, some include both, and some include books for all ages, from which I pick the ones written for teen and young adults (again, it’s a daunting task!)

This year, from the 10 lists I drew from, 2 titles showed up on all of them: Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (a YA novel about first love) and Gene Luen Young’s Boxers and Saints, a pair of historical graphic novels set during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. Another book was on 7 lists, one was on 6, five titles made it onto 5 best of lists, and nine were on 4. Those 18 books make up the CA Library Best YA Books of 2013 Superlist!

The Best of the Best…

  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell — Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. “The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship [Eleanor and Park] develop is urgent, moving, and, of course, heartbreaking, too.” — Booklist starred review
  • Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang — An innovative look at China’s Boxer Rebellion told from two points of view, in two companion volumes. “A poignant, powerhouse work of historical fiction from one of our finest graphic storytellers.” — Booklist starred review

And the Rest of the Best…

  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey — Cassie Sullivan, the survivor of an alien invasion, must rescue her young brother from the enemy with help from a boy who may be one of them. “Yancey’s heartfelt, violent, paranoid epic, filled with big heroics and bigger surprises, is part War of the Worlds, part Starship Troopers, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and part The Stand, but just close enough to dystopic trends to make this a sure thing for reviewers and readers alike.” — Booklist starred review
  • All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry — Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. “[Berry’s] poetic narrative…will draw readers in, and the gradual unveiling of secrets will keep them absorbed.” — Publishers Weekly
  • The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black — When seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up following a party in the aftermath of a violent vampire attack, she travels to Coldtown, a quarantined Massachusetts city full of vampires, with her ex-boyfriend and a mysterious vampire boy in tow. “An intriguingly complex take on the mechanics of vampirism, and well-developed and memorable characters, this superior, dread-soaked tale will satisfy vampire addicts of all ages.” — Publishers Weekly
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty — Fourteen-year-old Madeleine of Cambridge, England, struggling to cope with poverty and her mother’s illness, and fifteen-year-old Elliot of the Kingdom of Cello in a parallel world where colors are villainous and his father is missing, begin exchanging notes through a crack between their worlds and find they can be of great help to each other. “Moriarty captures the proud iconoclasm of many homeschoolers and does not shy away from tenderness and poignancy as both Madeleine and Elliot confront difficult family truths.” — Booklist
  • Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin Trilogy, Book 2) by Robin LaFevers — Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this sequel to Grave Mercy. “Realistic details of 15th-century Breton life abound, providing an overall clear and accurate picture of the times…and the story will leave readers eager for the series’ finale.” — School Library Journal
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell — Feeling cast off when her best friend outgrows their shared love for a favorite celebrity, Cath, a dedicated fan-fiction writer, struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words and worrying about her fragile father. “This sophisticated novel from a talented writer will captivate nerds, romantics, and book lovers alike.” — Horn Book
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal — When Jeremy Johnson Johnson’s strange ability to speak to the ghost of Jacob Grimm draws the interest of his classmate Ginger Boltinghouse, the two find themselves at the center of a series of disappearances in their hometown. “Readers who love spotting allusions will appreciate this intelligent book’s robust vocabulary, its inclusion of French, German and Swedish words, and the real scholarship behind it.” — Kirkus Reviews
  • Hostage Three by Nick Lake — Seventeen-year-old Amy, her father, and her stepmother becomes hostages when Somalian pirates seize their yacht, but although she builds a bond with one of her captors it becomes brutally clear that the price of life and its value are two very different things. “Lake’s follow-up to In Darkness (2012) shares two distinct traits with that Printz Award–winning novel: a Cormac McCarthy-style of nonattributed dialogue and a canny ability to generate sympathy for those who are ostensibly villains.” — Booklist starred review
  • March, Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell — A graphic biography of the life of Georgia congressman John Lewis, focusing on is youth in rural Alabama, his meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement. “A powerful tale of courage and principle igniting sweeping social change, told by a strong-minded, uniquely qualified eyewitness.” — Kirkus starred review
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick — An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on a remote Scandinavian island where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. “Each of these vignettes seem rich enough to be worthy of a novel of its own, and readers might almost wish they could pause in each fascinating, detailed moment rather than be swept through time-and the novel-on the current of a cursed love.” — School Library Journal
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys — Josie, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, is striving to escape 1950 New Orleans and enroll at prestigious Smith College when she becomes entangled in a murder investigation. “Sepetys’ latest strongly evokes 1950s radio soap operas, but despite over-the-top emotional pitch and stereotypical characters, this is nevertheless a page-turner that noir romance fans will gobble up like popcorn shrimp.” — Booklist
  • Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff — Twelve-year-old Mila travels with her father to upstate New York to visit friends and family, who may lead them to clues to the whereabouts of her father’s best friend, who has gone missing. “[Rosoff] accurately captures this mature adolescent’s view of adults without condescension or judgment, a feat worthy of praise.” — School Library Journal
  • Reality Boy by A.S. King — An emotionally damaged seventeen-year-old boy in Pennsylvania who was once an infamous reality television show star meets a girl from another dysfunctional family, and she helps him out of his angry shell. “This is no fairytale romance, but a compulsively readable portrait of two imperfect teens learning to trust each other and themselves.” — Kirkus starred review
  • Requiem (Delirium Trilogy, Book 3) by Lauren Oliver — In this sequel to Pandemonium, Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous Wilds while her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland. “A soldier, a lover, a cousin and a friend, Lena is a rich and achingly human heroine whose strength and vulnerability will earn her a permanent place in readers’ hearts.” — Kirkus starred review
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein — When young American pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, she finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery, and friendship of her fellow prisoners. “In plot and character this story is consistently involving, a great, page-turning read; just as impressive is how subtly Wein brings a respectful, critical intelligence to her subject.” — Horn Book
  • Winger by Andrew Smith — Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates. “Much of the story seems preoccupied with the base-level joys and torments of being a teenager…but at its heart, it is more in line with Dead Poets Society, and by the end this deceptively lightweight novel packs an unexpectedly ferocious punch.” — Booklist starred review

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