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Best New Young Adult (Grade 9-12) Books Of 2011-2012

View all Recommendations by Age > Recommendations for Young Adult book lists; This list was last updated on 8/12/2013
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release date: Oct 12, 2010
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The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist)
While attempting to disprove that Homo vampiris, the vampire, could exist, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiancé to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop also considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied? This second book in The Monstrumologist series explores the line between myth and reality, love and hate, genius and madness.
release date: May 01, 2012
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Glimpse
This stunning and PEN Award–winning novel of triumph over trauma is a “page-turner for Ellen Hopkins fans” (Kirkus Reviews).

In one moment
it is over.
In one moment
it is gone.
    
Twelve-year-old Hope's life is turned upside down when her older sister, Lizzie, becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself. Hope and Lizzie have relied on each other from a young age, ever since their dad died. Their mother, who turns tricks to support her family, is a reluctant and unreliable parent—at best. During the course of this lyrical and heartbreaking narrative, told in blank verse from an exceptionally promising YA voice, readers will discover the chilling reason why Lizzie has stopped speaking—and why Hope is the only one who can bring the truth to light and save her sister.

 
release date: Jan 02, 2012
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The Mockingbirds
Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.


From the glossy pages of its admissions brochure, the prestigious Themis Academy appears perfect in every way: exceptional academics, extraordinary students, the kind of extracurriculars to make an Ivy League proud, and zero instances of student misbehavior. But this boarding school isn't as pristine as it appears. There's a dark underbelly to the perfect record the Themis administration flaunts. Student infractions are rampant, and it's up to a secret vigilante society, the Mockingbirds, to maintain order on campus--a responsibility their members take very seriously.

Alex Patrick never thought she would need the Mockingbirds. But when she's date-raped by another student, she doesn't know where else to go. As much as she'd like to forget what happened, she can't escape the daily reminders of what went wrong that terrible night. Before she can summon the courage to take a stand, she'll have to accept that her battle for justice is not hers alone. Standing up for someone, especially yourself, is worth the fight.
release date: Jan 10, 2012
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Adios, Nirvana

    When you piss off a bridge into a snowstorm, it feels like you're connecting with eternal things. Paying homage to something or someone. But who? The Druids? Walt Whitman? No, I pay homage to one person only, my brother, my twin.
       In life. In death.
       Telemachus.

Since the death of his brother, Jonathan's been losing his grip on reality. Last year's Best Young Poet and gifted guitarist is now Taft High School's resident tortured artist, when he bothers to show up. He's on track to repeat eleventh grade, but his English teacher, his principal, and his crew of Thicks (who refuse to be seniors without him) won't sit back and let him fail.

release date: Jan 01, 2010
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A Conspiracy of Kings

Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, has disappeared without atrace. Eugenides, the new and unlikely king of Attolia, has neverstopped wondering what happened to his friend. Nor has theQueen of Eddis, who once offered Sophos her hand. They sendspies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as timegoes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever seetheir friend alive again.

Battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are setin motion. Across the sea, a ruthless empire watches for even theslightest weakness. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides histime. Until, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus—and Eddis—Sophos sets out on an adventure that will change allof their lives forever.

release date: Jan 01, 2010
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Some Girls Are

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

release date: Jan 01, 2012
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The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
One is dying of cancer. The other's planning a murder.

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully--ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be;and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life.

Nuanced in its characters and surprising in its plot developments--both soulful and funny--LAST SUMMER is a buddy novel of the highest kind: the story of a friendship that helps two young men become all they can be.
release date: Apr 01, 2011
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After Ever After
An amazing sequel to the groundbreaking debut, DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE.

Jeffrey isn't a little boy with cancer anymore. He's a teen who's in remission, but life still feels fragile. The aftereffects of treatment have left Jeffrey with an inability to be a great student or to walk without limping. His parents still worry about him. His older brother, Steven, lost it and took off to Africa to be in a drumming circle and "find himself." Jeffrey has a little soul searching to do, too, which begins with his escalating anger at Steven, an old friend who is keeping something secret, and a girl who is way out of his league but who thinks he's cute.
release date: Jan 01, 2009
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The Hunchback Assignments
A gripping new series combines Steampunk, spying, and a fantastic Victorian London.

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania's efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It's up to them to save their country.


From the Hardcover edition.
release date: Jan 01, 2010
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The Grimm Legacy
Elizabeth has just started working as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository - a lending library of objects, contemporary and historical, common and obscure. And secret, too - for in the repository's basement lies the Grimm Collection, a room of magical items straight from the Grimm Brother's fairy tales. But the magic mirrors and seven-league boots and other items are starting to disappear. And before she knows it, she and her fellow pages - handsome Marc, perfect Anjali, and brooding Aaron - are suddenly caught up in an exciting, and dangerous, magical adventure.
release date: Oct 15, 2009
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Gateway
As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring?and tells her that ?black jade? translates to ?Daiyu??she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it?s more than that; it?s magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There?s only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever. . . .
release date: Sep 27, 2011
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Revolver

A LOADED GUN. STOLEN GOLD. And a menacing stranger. A taut frontier survivor story, set at the time of the Alaska gold rush.

In an isolated cabin, fourteen-year-old Sig is alone with a corpse: his father, who has fallen through the ice and frozen to death only hours earlier. Then comes a stranger claiming that Sig's father owes him a share of a horde of stolen gold. Sig's only protection is a loaded Colt revolver hidden in the cabin's storeroom. The question is, will Sig use the gun, and why?

Revolver is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

release date: May 01, 2010
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The Cardturner
How are we supposed to be partners?
He can't see the cards and I don't know the rules!

The summer after junior year of high school looks bleak for Alton Richards. His girlfriend has dumped him to hook up with his best friend. He has no money and no job. His parents insist that he drive his great-uncle Lester to his bridge club four times a week and be his cardturner—whatever that means. Alton's uncle is old, blind, very sick, and very rich.
           
But Alton's parents aren't the only ones trying to worm their way into Lester Trapp's good graces. They're in competition with his longtime housekeeper, his alluring young nurse, and the crazy Castaneda family, who seem to have a mysterious influence over him. Alton soon finds himself intrigued by his uncle, by the game of bridge, and especially by the pretty and shy Toni Castaneda. As the summer goes on, he struggles to figure out what it all means, and ultimately to figure out the meaning of his own life.
release date: Mar 01, 2011
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The Prince of Mist
1943. As war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver's father moves his family away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen: Max discovers a garden filled with eerie statues; his sisters are plagued by unsettling dreams and voices; a box of old films opens a window to the past. Most unsettling of all are rumours about the previous owners and the mysterious disappearance of their son. As Max delves into the past, he encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with the first mists of dawn ...Originally published in Spain as a young adult novel, THE PRINCE OF MIST is a mesmerising tale of mystery, romance and adventure.
release date: Mar 01, 2011
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Fever Crumb
A stunning, new novel by master storyteller Philip Reeve.

Fever Crumb is a girl who has been adopted and raised by Dr. Crumb, a member of the order of Engineers, where she serves as apprentice. In a time and place where women are not seen as reasonable creatures, Fever is an anomaly, the only female to serve in the order. Soon though, she must say goodbye to Dr. Crumb-nearly the only person she's ever known-to assist archeologist Kit Solent on a top-secret project. As her work begins, Fever is plagued by memories that are not her own and Kit seems to have a particular interest in finding out what they are. Fever has also been (cont'd)
release date: May 03, 2011
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Sorta Like a Rock Star
Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism--and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope?

With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. The world is Amber's stage, and Amber is, well...she's sorta like a rock star. True? True.
release date: Jul 01, 2010
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Bamboo People
Junior Library Guild Selection
Nominated for ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults
Starred Reviews in PW and School Library Journal
Book Page's Top Ten MG Novel of 2010
Bang! A side door bursts open.

Soldiers pour into the room. They're shouting and waving rifles.

I shield my head with my arms. It was a lie! I think, my mind racing.

Girls and boys alike are screaming. The soldiers prod and herd some of us together and push the rest apart as if we're cows or goats.

Their leader, though, is a middle-aged man. He's moving slowly, intently, not dashing around like the others. "Take the boys only, Win Min," I overhear him telling a tall, gangly soldier. "Make them obey."


Chiko isn't a fighter by nature. He's a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as each boy is changed by unlikely friendships formed under extreme circumstances.
release date: Jan 01, 2011
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Hatchet
Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.

But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel's parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy, and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for the patriot cause. And he learns that he must go deep into enemy territory to find his parents: all the way to the British headquarters, New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.
release date: Sep 01, 2010
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Half Brother
For thirteen years, Ben Tomlin was an only child. But all that changes when his mother brings home Zan ― an eight-day-old chimpanzee. Ben's father, a renowned behavioral scientist, has uprooted the family to pursue his latest research project: a high-profile experiment to determine whether chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills. Ben's parents tell him to treat Zan like a little brother. Ben reluctantly agrees. At least now he's not the only one his father's going to scrutinize. It isn't long before Ben is Zan's favorite, and Ben starts to see Zan as more than just an experiment. His father disagrees. Soon Ben is forced to make a critical choice between what he is told to believe and what he knows to be true ― between obeying his father or protecting his brother from an unimaginable fate. Half Brother isn't just a story about a boy and a chimp. It's about the way families are made, the way humanity is judged, the way easy choices become hard ones, and how you can't always do right by the people and animals you love. In the hands of master storyteller Kenneth Oppel, it's a novel you won't soon forget.
release date: Jan 01, 2011
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Before I Fall

With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today's foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person's life can affect so many others.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Named to numerous state reading lists, this novel was also recognized as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Daily Beast, NPR, and Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by Fox 2000 Pictures.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

release date: Apr 01, 2011
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Birthmarked

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia's mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia's choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

release date: Jan 01, 2010
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Trash
In an unnamed Third World country, in the not-so-distant future, three “dumpsite boys” make a living picking through the mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city.

One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It's up to Raphael, Gardo, and Rat—boys who have no education, no parents, no homes, and no money—to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong.

Andy Mulligan has written a powerful story about unthinkable poverty—and the kind of hope and determination that can transcend it. With twists and turns, unrelenting action, and deep, raw emotion, Trash is a heart-pounding, breath-holding novel.
release date: Apr 01, 2012
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Stolen
Now in paperback, the acclaimed Printz Honor Book: Sensitive, sharp, captivating!

A girl: Gemma, 16, at the airport, on her way to a family vacation.

A guy: Ty, rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar, eyes blue as ice.

She steps away. For just a second. He pays for her drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. To sand and heat. To emptiness and isolation. To nowhere. And expects her to love him.

Written as a letter from a victim to her captor, STOLEN is Gemma's desperate story of survival; of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare--or die trying to fight it.

A Michael L. Printz Honor Book * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults * A 2011 USBBY Outstanding International Book

*"An emotionally raw thriller."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Disturbing, heartbreaking, and beautiful all at once." --School Library Journal
release date: Sep 13, 2010
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Crazy
Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father's deteriorating condition.

Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.
release date: Mar 01, 2010
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The Sky Is Everywhere
Adrift after her sister Bailey's sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby—Bailey's boyfriend who shares her grief—and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs... though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.

Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.

As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.
release date: Dec 27, 2011
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Lockdown

Walter Dean Myers enjoys speaking with kids in schools and juvenile detention facilities about writing and making positive decisions. He says, "I have enormous faith in young people."

What's it like in juvie jail? Enter the world of fourteen-year-old Reese, who's locked up at Progress juvenile detention facility. Can he get a second chance?

release date: May 23, 2011
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The Boneshaker
Thirteen-year-old Natalie Minks loves machines, particularly automata—self-operating mechanical devices, usually powered by clockwork. When Jake Limberleg and his traveling medicine show arrive in her small Missouri town with a mysterious vehicle under a tarp and an uncanny ability to make Natalie's half-built automaton move, she feels in her gut that something about this caravan of healers is a bit off. Her uneasiness leads her to investigate the intricate maze of the medicine show, where she discovers a horrible truth and realizes that only she has the power to set things right.

Set in 1914, The Boneshaker is a gripping, richly textured novel about family, community, courage, and looking evil directly in the face in order to conquer it.
release date: Apr 12, 2010
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Sources of Light

It's 1962, a year after the death of Sam's father--he was a war hero--and Sam and her mother must move, along with their very liberal views, to Jackson, Mississippi, her father's conservative hometown. Needless to say, they don't quite fit in.
    People like the McLemores fear that Sam, her mother, and her mother's artist friend, Perry, are in the South to "agitate" and to shake up the dividing lines between black and white and blur it all to grey. As racial injustices ensue--sit-ins and run-ins with secret white supremacists--Sam learns to focus with her camera lens to bring forth the social injustice out of the darkness and into the light.

release date: Jul 03, 2015
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release date: Sep 01, 2010
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Finnikin of the Rock
2008 Printz Award Winner Melina Marchetta crafts an epic fantasy of ancient magic, exile, feudal intrigue, and romance that rivets from the first page.

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin's unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.


From the Hardcover edition.
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