Welcome Back to YA Cafe, where book lovers can gather and chat about teen literature. I’m your barista, along with Ghenet from All About Them Words.
Each Friday we pick from a menu of topics and share our thoughts on our respective blogs. We’ve also got plans brewing for interviews, events and even some exciting giveaways, so stay tuned! Join the discussion by responding in the comments, on your own blogs or on twitter using the hash tag #yacafe.
Today’s Special is: The Teen-10
• I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President (Josh Lieb) An evil mastermind running for eighth grade class president? Hilarious! This kid has such a great voice, it cracks me up. Some readers might also not fully appreciate the voice, but chances are that’s because they’re just not smart enough to appreciate the sheer genius that is this book (and this character). Then again, it’s easy to overlook genius in its own time.
• The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things (Carolyn Mackler)
A funny, heartfelt book about a girl who’s struggling to live up to the unrelenting standards of her seemingly perfect family. It was a tough call between this book by Carolyn Mackler and two of her others (Vegan Virgin Valentine and Tangled) but I chose this one for my Teen-10 because it’s the one that spoke to me on the most personal level. Anyone who’s ever felt a little too fat or not good enough will relate to this heroine.
• Geektastic (Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci)
This collection of short stories captures geekdom on all it’s geekish levels. Geektastic has all sorts of geeky goodness represented here–from trekkies and techies–the stories are written by bona fide members of the “nerd herd.” Why I love this book: first there’s the sheer inspiration factor; being a geek doesn’t condemn you to a lifetime of awkward loneliness (these writers are living proof). Second (in number but not in awesomeness) this book intermingles short stories with super-funny comics. What’s not to love?
• Feed (M. T. Anderson)
Feed is one of my favorite books of all time and it most definitely wins the prize for best first line in a novel EVER. I can’t think of what else to tell you that won’t seem meaningless, because no summary can do justice to the awesome that is this book. But I’ll try. Here goes. Imagine a world where everyone has the internet pumped directly into their brains. Sound scary? Maybe because it’s not too far from being reality.
• The Looking Glass Wars (Frank Beddor)
Alice in Wonderland meets Star Wars. If you don’t find that unbelievably awesome, you need to get your head examined. ’nuff said.
• What I Saw and How I Lied (Judy Blundell)
When I read What I Saw and How I Lied I read it practically in one gulp because I couldn’t put it down. Now, let me just say this… with all interwebby awesome out there and reruns of Law and Order on just about every cable channel, the temptation to put a book down is pretty big. But this book grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and would not let me go.
• Ice (Sarah Beth Durst)
Who would have thought a book entitled Ice would be so warm, heartfelt and passionate? The relationship between Cassie and Bear is loving, sexy, and real. I love how this book combines elements from so many different genres and styles; it has the flavor of a folktale with the structure of a fairytale and the strong-yet-vulnerable female protagonist of contemporary YA. A breath-taking book.
• True Believer (Virginia Euwer Wolff)
Of course I had to include a verse novel on this list because verse novels are among my favorites. This book makes my Teen-10 because when I read True Believer (book 2 in the Make Lemonade series), I detested it. I thought it was sappy and silly and ridiculous. The thing is, when a book makes me feel so viscerally against it, I often have to go back and take a second look. In this case, I decided to go back and read book 1 in the series (Make Lemonade) and it’s positively lovely and made me reconsider my feelings about True Believer. When a book (or in this case, author) wins me over on a second read, it often becomes a favorite of mine. It’s as though I end up liking it all the more because I disliked it so much at first. This is one of those books. The other book I felt like this about is now my number-one-all-time-favorite-book:
Pride and Prejudice.
• The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
A book narrated by Death? A story about the power of words? Love, war, friendship, betrayal, family and sacrifice all woven together? The Book Thief is a bibliophile’s dream. Seriously. When I read this book, I cried almost the whole way through. Not because this book is sad (which it is, by the way) but because it’s so beautifully crafted that I kept thinking “I’ll never write like this!” My writerly insecurities aside, if you haven’t read this book, you need to. Right now. Seriously, step away from your computer and Read. This. Book.
• If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
This book made me cry. So much so that I couldn’t read the ending right away because vision was blurry. Seriously, I had to get up and make a cup of tea so I could collect myself and read those last few pages. This book has special meaning for me, for reasons I can’t quite explain here. Suffice to say, this is a heart-wrenching but beautiful book. Read it with a box of tissues.