Christmas 2012: Teen Reads I Recommend

And here you thought I was through with my book recommendations for the year! I couldn’t do another Christmas guide without mentioning my favorite YA books for the year. Most of them I’ve read within the past 10 months or so but a few old-school favorites made it onto the list.

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

1. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier : Victorian setting + strong female character + Sherlock Holmes-ian mystery? Count me in! This is the book that I thought The Name of the Star would be — and this time I wasn’t disappointed. Scheier is a genius with words: the story is fast-paced and enticing. My biggest disappointment with this book was realizing the sequel won’t be out for far too long. As a side-note, this is a YA version of Dust and Shadow by Lyndsey Faye that I reviewed earlier this year and mentioned in my books I recommend post.

Pure by Julianna Baggott

2. Pure by Julianna Baggott: I’ve already reviewed this one on my blog but it was so stellar it warranted mentioning again. Baggott writes in the vein of Collins, Roth and Condie, making the book an excellent addition to any fan’s collection.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green: As a Kenyon alumna I’m practically required to be a John Green fan; luckily for me, his novels are spectacular! I had to read Looking for Alaska as part of my YA Literature class (INLS 530) and I’m so glad it was a requirement. The story is so heartbreaking, “coming of age” done correctly. Drop everything and go pick it up, now!

Divergent by Veronica Roth

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth: Another book for those Hunger Games fans, Roth writes about a post-apocalyptic US where families have been replaced with groups called factions. Teens are tested and placed into a faction based on their abilities, but once they get there the teens are forced to prove themselves. Terrifying in the way the Hunger Games are, the series is a way to keep Collins fans reading.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: I came late to the party on this one! It came out ages ago but it bears mentioning here. The story follows a young girl in WWII Germany who learns about the power of words through stolen books.

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Book Review: Matched by Allie Condie

Matched by Allie Condie

Published September 2011

Summary:  Set in a post-apocalyptic America, called the Society , the novel follows Cassia through her Matching ceremony. In this new world everything is laid out for citizens: their food is premeasured and send to them, their jobs are based on intense aptitude tests and their deaths are pre-planned. Matching is at the center of these plans and involves young people being chosen for each other by a committee. The Matching Ceremony allows the young people to see a picture of their match for the first time and to revel in their new “adulthood.”After the ceremony, the matched are given a computer chip with information about their intended so that they can get to know them. Cassia’s experience is complicated by the fact that she sees someone other than her Match on the computer chip. When this happens she begins seeing all of the things that have gone wrong within the Society.

Bechdel Test?: Cassia doesn’t really have any girlfriends so this is a little hard to determine. There is a female government official with whom she has conversations about the state of things, so I think it passes!

Rating: 3/5

Though I’m late to the party — the third book in the trilogy comes out this fall– I’m glad that I arrived! This is a thoughtful book about how government control can corrupt a society. I was most intrigued by the way the Society interacted with art and culture. . The Society decided that the world was too cluttered by choice so a committee chose 100 paintings, 100 poems, and other things to save and then burned all of the rest. I was appalled at the destruction of important documents but found it amazing that these treasures play such a central role in the novel!