2010 has been a year where I have read less content but reviewed more positively. This has been due to the fact that I have been purchasing more books that interest me and receiving less review copies. My top ten are from the books that I have written a review of and have been released in 2010.
Anna and The French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
If you respond to quality characterisation, authentic and well built individual conflict and a gradual, evolving romance (based on friendship and attraction, rather than the love pow) then this is the book for you! What I love most about Perkins' debut is that while the romance is lovely, so is the personal journey of the protagonist. Should St Clair not have existed this book would still have been a fascinating examination of being a stranger in a foreign land and problems that plague a teen in boarding school.
The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
Nelson's debut shows of her exquisite turns of phrase while depicting the push and pull of grief. It is a story that explores the muddiness of mind and emotions that come with grief and the need to hold onto the familiar, the known. The poetry that is sprinkled throughout strikes a chord drawing the reader in closer to the heart of the matter.
A Match Made in High School - Kristin Walker
This somewhat overlooked title was riotously fun demonstrating how one jaded principal's perspective can turn a senior class upside down. What is lovely here is that two friendships are born between the protagonist and two diametrically opposed boys as a result of the Marriage Education program. I love Todd Harding (one of the boys) too much considering how much he would have annoyed me during high school. His way with dirty jokes and innuendo is a credit to the author. Worth checking out for the shenanigans and the deeper implications of a hilarious educational implementation.
Review *My favourite opening line of any review I have ever posted.
The Piper's Son - Melina Marchetta
Tom Mackee was the larrikan in Marchetta's sophomoric Saving Francesca but in this title we see another side of the jokester. The audience is reintroduced to several characters we are already familiar and news ones as well as the perspective alternates between Tom and Georgie. Despite the cloud of grief that shadows TPS there is laughter, love and lots of music. It is the only title on this list that represents the older years of the young adult category and does a wonderful job of reflecting that aimlessness of change and self doubt.
Grace - Elizabeth Scott
Scott is an author (along with Marchetta) who is always changing it up. It is such an admirable trait, especially when accomplished to the degree that this title is. Grace is unlike anything I have read in YA. Detailing a barren dystopian world only slightly removed from our own, we join a girl ready to sacrifice herself for another's cause. It's sparse, tense and political and also highly personal. Affecting and thought provoking.
Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley
Sometimes there are books that come along where the characters speak directly to your own experiences and those that populate your own lives and Graffiti Moon is that. Highly relatable, introspective, funny and a lovely representative of those that chase artistic ideals. I particularly love that it is a story encapsulated within one Melbourne night with multiple perspectives presented. Love it.
Six Impossible Things - Fiona Wood
Sadly this is the only title that graces the list told exclusively from a teen male perspective. And yet, I have a lot in common with this character having shared several of the same situations that he encounters....though I never stalked my cute neighbour. Wood has shared with us a kid dealing with a world upside down with an enormous reservoir of humour and sensitivity. There are also heapings of quirk - always a good thing!
Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers
Unflinching in it is portrayal of the heinous nature of high school girls, Summers' sophomoric novel is powerful, nasty and slightly wicked. But deep down under the underhanded power plays and evil wrongdoings there is a truthful look at redemption, forgiveness and how far is too far.
Kinetic. Fast. Charismatic.
A Little Wanting Song - Cath Crowley
Another duel perspective Australian tale for the list, A Little Wanting Song is the lyrical telling of two girls finding friendship despite their differences and one hurtful untruth. It's gentle and strong like Charlie's song lyrics and while quiet it resonates.
The two girls are diametrically posed in upbringing, interests and geography but their burgeoning relationship is beautifully grown. Just lovely.
Not That Kind of Girl - Siobhan Vivian
Feminism and femininity aren't themes that are often told hand in hand in YA but I am ecstatic that they are so truthfully told here. Never have I read a book that seemed to so accurately depict my high school experience (sans hot boy). Vivian has told a story about a girl striving to be her best version of herself to a degree that is frightening. The rigidity of Natalie's existence, her pursuit of perfection and the pressure placed upon her are at direct contrast to that of the errant upstart who uses her sexuality to seek her goals. Fantastic.
December 21 - 5 Great Debuts
December 22 - 5 Great Covers
December 23 - 5 Great Series
December 24 - 5 Great Re-Reads (books you've LOVED so much you went back for more)
December 25 - 5 Most Anticipated (2011 titles)
December 26 - 5 Hopes for YA in 2011
December 27 - 5 Great YA Movie Deals
December 28 - 5 Great Author (in the flesh) Moments
December 29 - 5 Great YA Bloggers
December 31 - 5 Best Titles for 2010 (which I double because 5 was too hard)