These are the best YA books of 2013, as picked by the editors and contributors of The Children’s Book Review:
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbr ck, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.
Ages 15 and up | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | September 10, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1423183099
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) by Marissa Meyer
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
Ages 12-17 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | February 5, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-0312642969
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is–and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
Ages 14-17 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | November 6, 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0316133975
Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time. After an assault that leaves Evan scarred inside and out, he and his father retreat to the family cabin in rural Minnesota—which, ironically, turns out to be the one place where Evan can’t escape other people. Including himself. It may also offer him his best shot at making sense of his life again.
Ages 14-17 | Publisher: Carolrhoda Books | October 1, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1467705974
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
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. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.
Eleanor & Park is the winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.
A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2013
Ages 13-17 | Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin | February 26, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1250012579
Winger by Andrew Smith
A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.
Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
Ages 12 and up | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | May 14, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1442444928
Shades of Earth (Across the Universe) by Beth Revis
The final book in the New York Times bestselling trilogy, perfect for fans of Battlestar Galactica and Prometheus!
FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh—to build a home—on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.
But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.
Amy and Elder must race to discover who—or what—else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed—friends, family, life on Earth—will have been for nothing.
Ages 15 and up | Publisher: Razorbill | November 14, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1595146151
This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky
Sophie has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother’s bipolar disorder: monitoring medication, making sure the rent is paid, rushing home after school instead of spending time with friends, and keeping secrets from everyone.
But when a suicide attempt lands Sophie’s mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin–a family she’s been estranged from for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family’s house is easy. What’s harder is figuring out how to rebuild her life.
And as her mother’s release approaches and the old obligations loom, Sophie finds herself torn between her responsibilities toward her mother and her desire to live her own life, Sophie must decide what to do next.
Ages 15 and up | Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen | September 1, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-0807578773
Fuse (The Pure Trilogy) by Julianna Baggott
We want our son returned.
This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.
To be a Pure is to be perfect, untouched by Detonations that scarred the earth, and sheltered inside the paradise that is the Dome. But Partridge escaped to the outside world, where Wretches struggle to survive amid smoke and ash. Now, at the command of Partridge’s father, the Dome is unleashing nightmare after nightmare upon the Wretches in an effort to get him back.
At Partridge’s side is a small band of those united against the Dome: Lyda, the warrior; Bradwell, the revolutionary; El Capitan, the guard; and Pressia, the young woman whose mysterious past ties her to Partridge in ways she never could have imagined. Long ago a plan was hatched that could mean the earth’s ultimate doom. Now only Partridge and Pressia can set things right.
To save millions of innocent lives, Partridge must risk his own by returning to the Dome and facing his most terrifying challenge. And Pressia, armed only with a mysterious Black Box containing a set of cryptic clues, must travel to the very ends of the earth, to a place where no map can guide her. If they succeed, the world will be saved. But should they fail, humankind will pay a terrible price . . .
Ages 15 and up | Publisher: Grand Central Publishing | September 10, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1455503100
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school — and must discover resources she never knew she had.
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.
Ages 15 and up | Publisher: Candlewick | March 26, 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-0763658595