Gear up for BEA this week by checking out some of the best books for teens. Here, five of our picks:
Building on the plots and themes of the award-winning Graceling and its companion Fire, this rich and poignant fantasy grapples with the messy aftermath of destroying an evil overlord. Nine years after Bitterblue took the crown, the young queen and her realm are still struggling to come to terms with the monstrous legacy of her father, the insane, mind-controlling Leck. How can she "look forward," as her advisors urge, when she cannot trust her memories of the past? Sneaking out of her castle, Bitterblue discovers that her people have not healed as much as she has been told…Devastating and heartbreaking, this will be a disappointment for readers looking for a conventional happy ending. But those willing to take the risk will—like Bitterblue—achieve something even more precious: a hopeful beginning. (Fantasy. 14 & up) Read Bookshelves of Doom’s take on Bitterblue.
A steampunk adventure in which an omniscient narrator delves into multiple heads and a quartet of friends take lurid risks to save their fifth counterpart. Fin de siècle London meets New York when Finley, Griffin, Emily and Sam take passage on a dirigible after a local villain, Dalton, absconds with their friend Jasper. Cross deftly weaves storylines together, fostering each character’s romantic aspirations and nicely complicating them with low social station, part-machine composition or some other hindrance to bliss…Cross nails the old dialects of New York, England and Ireland, imbuing her world with texture and authenticity. Surprising, vivid and cohesive—the work of a pro. (Steampunk. 13 & up)
Selecting high and low points from his experiences as a child, college student, teacher, refugee-camp worker, amateur boxer, Rhodes scholar, Navy SEAL and worker with disabled vets, Greitens both charts his philosophical evolution and challenges young readers to think about “a better way to walk in the world.” Revising extracts from his memoir The Heart and the Fist and recasting them into a more chronological framework, the author tells a series of adventuresome tales. These are set in locales ranging from Duke University to Oxford, from a low-income boxing club to camps in Rwanda and Croatia, from a group home for street children in Bolivia to a barracks hit by a suicide bomber in Iraq…An uncommon (to say the least) coming of age, retraced with well-deserved pride but not self-aggrandizement, and as thought provoking as it is entertaining. (endnotes, bibliography [not seen]) (Memoir. 14-18) Make sure to catch our interview with Greitens about his book online this week.
Imagine waking up in a different body every day. A is a 16-year-old genderless being who drifts from body to body each day, living the life of a new human host of the same age and similar geographic radius for 24 hours. One morning, A wakes up a girl with a splitting hangover; another day he/she wakes up as a teenage boy so overweight he can barely fit into his car. Straight boys, gay girls, teens of different races, body shapes, sizes and genders make up the catalog of A’s outward appearances, but ultimately A’s spirit—or soul—remains the same…Levithan’s self-conscious, analytical style marries perfectly with the plot. His musings on love, longing and human nature knit seamlessly with A’s journey. Readers will devour his trademark poetic wordplay and cadences that feel as fresh as they were when he wrote Boy Meets Boy (2003). An awe-inspiring, thought-provoking reminder that love reaches beyond physical appearances or gender. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Compassionate, thoughtful and expressive, this New Zealand import traces a Maori teen's journey through friendships, family, work and the realization that he is gay. Modest, practical, local-hip-hop–loving Tyson spots a confident, young, white street promoter in a basketball jersey and for the first time feels something he thinks might be love at first sight. Tyson spends his life caring for others: He works nights as a dishwasher to support his mother and two younger brothers, and he looks out for his best mate Rawiri, loyally ignoring the bruises Rawiri sometimes receives at home. Propelled by two friends' encouragement to follow his dreams and his growing interest in the figure he thinks of as “the white homeboy,” Tyson begins to make changes…No simple coming-out story, this many-layered effort is gritty, warm and ultimately hopeful. (Fiction. 14 & up)