Here are four that I’ve really enjoyed – 1, 3, and 4 are single books. 2 is a series.
1) Divergent by Veronica Roth: I just finished Divergent. Totally captivated. It mirrors the structure of so many other recent YA novels – teenage female heroine, post-apocalyptic-dystopian society, tattoos, piercings, violence, and a struggle for identity in the midst of holding strong while the world stands on the edge of falling apart. Divergent also stands apart in its particular vision of how the new reality is structured, the way in which Veronica Roth manages to weave a very real struggle with identity, a fully thought out world, and major internal and external conflict into a compelling, real story.
2) The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass by Cassandra Clare: The Mortal Instrument series is a fun, sometimes intense, series that uses the world of magic and magical creatures to create a classic story about good vs. evil, family, in-groups and out-groups, a sense of belonging, honor, creativity, class, love, and a bit of war.
3) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Clay Jensen arrives home after high school and finds a package waiting for him. A set of cassette tapes sit inside. He plays the first, which features Hannah Baker, a classmate who recently committed suicide, announcing to Clay that he’s one of thirteen people who will receive this set of cassettes, which explain why she killed herself. While the book shares Hannah’s perspective, we also watch and listen to Clay as he listens to the tapes. His anger, frustration, confusion, and even disappointment in Hannah as he listens provide a strong counter-point to Hannah’s narration. *If you or someone you know is in trouble or considering suicide please, call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
4) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: What can I say, it’s serious and fun, addresses real teen and life issues, but keeps from becoming maudlin. It’s clear that the two authors had some goofy moments creating scenes, personalities, and late night IM exchanges between characters. At the same time, the characters are multi-dimensional and grow in a manner that feels real. The story takes place in a the ‘real’ world, but also pushes us to suspend disbelief, kicking back and enjoying the world in which we’re traveling.