Wendy Stephens, author of Wendy on the Web, recently wrote a post detailing her favorite reads of 2010 prompting me to consider the YA novels I had read this year. Which are ones I have or will recommend over and over to my students?
This is the first installment of the Infernal Devices series that is the prequel to the Mortal Instruments series, my favorite YA fantasy series of this century. Cassandra Clare has captured the essence of the Mortal Instruments world with this novel; I felt as if I had fallen right back into this delicious world of Downworlders and Shadowhunters – even though the novel involves different characters and is set 100 years ago in England.
Clare does not disappoint in this story of sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray who has traveled to London to be reunited with her brother who has mysteriously disappeared. She is captured by the Dark Sisters who awaken and help her perfect her power of shapeshifting. Once she escapes from their clutches, she takes refuge at the Shadowhunters’ London Institute and continues to search for her brother.
Another first in a series, Lockdown introduces us to Alex Sawyer who has been framed for the murder of his best friend and sentenced to life in the legendary Furnace Penitentiary. Furnace is a prison like no other, buried a mile underground and ruled by inhuman creatures who take pleasure in randomly kidnapping inmates from their cells. The inmates are dragged, kicking and screaming, from their cells and undergo horrific, though unknown, experiments which transform them into hideous beasts.
No one has successfully escaped from Furnace, but the thought of spending the remainder of his life there propels Alex to team up with two other inmates to attempt the impossible. Smith succeeds in keeping the reader mesmerized and anxious to discover what will happen to Alex.
Finally, a stand-alone novel! Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is laying down in the backseat of her stepmother’s Escalade when Griffin Sawyer, another teenager, decides to steal the car. His father runs a chop-shop and Griffin is hoping to prove he can be an asset to his dad.
Griffin doesn’t realize Cheyenne is in the back seat until it is too late and now he must decide what to do with her. Cheyenne, who is blind, tries to convince Griffin to let her go because she can’t identify him. When his father discovers that Cheyenne is from a wealthy family, Roy decides to ask for a ransom.
A fast read, the last third of the novel is a suspense-filled ride that you can’t put down.
Seventeen-year-old Mia loves her life. She is close to her parents and younger brother, she is a talented cellist hoping for a scholarship to Juillard, and her boyfriend Adam “gets” her. But in the proverbial blink-of-an-eye, everything changes. Mia’s family is involved in a fatal car crash, with Mia being the sole survivor. As she lingers in a coma, Mia is completely aware of what has happened and can’t imagine life without her family. Will she find the will to fight for life without them? This poignant story takes you on Mia’s mental journey to a decision.
What titles have you recently read that you are recommending to your students?