This week on Blogging for a Good Book, I’ll be making a variation from our usual pattern of one review a day to highlight the results of WRL’s annual compilation of the best-of lists into one spreadsheet: the All-the-Best-Books Compilation (ABBC). I’ll look at the results to date from one of the ABBC’s 12 categories each day. The remaining categories will be covered at my other blogging home, Booklist’s Book Group Buzz, where I’ve already explored the short story category. Stay tuned here at BFGB for releases of further editions of the ABBC compilation, as I compile more lists into a spreadsheet that already includes over 70 prominent sources.
The growth in young adult publishing can be seen in this year’s results, as mentions for 174 works have already been compiled into the ABBC. We’ve already posted about some of the top titles at BFGB.
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has a healthy lead, with 23 mentions to date. As Charlotte noted back in January, Green writes about highly literate teenagers in stories with intelligent romance, a dose of mystery, and plenty of real emotional content. Here he tells the story of a girl who gets a terminal cancer diagnosis on her 13th birthday, but is then swept into a romance with a boy from her support group who uses his final wish to take her to Amsterdam in search of the reclusive author of her favorite book. The phrase “it will make you laugh and make you cry” may be overused, but it’s certainly true here.
Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity is in second place, with 16 mentions to date. Charlotte reviewed this one on BFGB in May. It’s a WWII thriller about a Scottish girl who has been captured by the Gestapo. In her first person narration, she confesses her involvement with the resistance movement in France to Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden of the SS. This isn’t sugar-coated: it’s a story full of torture and other realities of war, but it’s full of twists, excitement, and some powerful poignant moments.
Third in the ABBC results is Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina, reviewed here in September by — guess who? — Charlotte. This one opens on a truce between dragons and humans in an age-old war. It’s a fantasy notable for political intrigues, dispassionate dragons, and the title character’s gift for deceptions and for a magic born from lucid dreaming. With an involving mystery at its core, Seraphina is the start of a new series.
In fourth place is Libba Bray, a mainstay at the top of young adult best of the year lists since 2003’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. A gifted and diverse writer, her 2012 offering was The Diviners, given 11 best-of-the-year mentions to date. This one’s about a Jazz Age girl Evie, who comes to live with her Uncle Will, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult in New York City. Evie can read people’s pasts by holding their possessions and she uses this gift, in concert with those of a group of new oddball friends, to combat the perpetrator of a series of killings. This is the fun, creepy opening to a new series.
One mention behind in 5th place is David Levithan, with Every Day. It’s protagonist “A” wakes up every morning in a different body, some male, some female, but one thing remains the same: A is always in love with the same girl, Rhiannon. A’s different lives and encounters with Rhiannon range from humorous to harrowing, and as usual, Levithan uses an unusual premise to engage in philosophical explorations while still telling a good story.
The rest of the young adult top ten to date are Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, Lois Lowry’s finish to The Giver quartet in Son, Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue, Robin LaFevers Grave Mercy, and Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. These and other books are packed close enough together that positions may easily change by the time the compiling of the ABBC is complete.
Click on the individual book title links to go to the WRL catalog.