Best of 2011: Our Favorite Young Adult Titles

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the Young Adult section of the bookstore when compiling our Best of 2011 list. Today we share our favorite books for teens that featured Slatebreaking characters and themes. Although there is a lot of great YA to look forward to in 2012, don’t let these books sit forgotten in your “to read” pile as you move into the new year.


Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Ok, ok, I can hear you all groaning. But if you can get past the atrocious cover, this is a seriously enjoyable book. I am a Star Trek fan and this book incorporated space travel and dystopian elements in a way that advanced the story but didn’t alienate me as a reader. There was also just enough murder mystery and teen romance to make this book a guilty pleasure. I read this book months before the blog was off the ground, so I didn’t get a chance to review it, but here is a review from Waking Brain Cells with more details.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

I feel like this may be the quintessential Slatebreaking book (other than Anne of Green Gables, of course). An airplane full of beauty queens crashes and leaves them stranded on a deserted island with only their stilettos and smarts to help them survive. The stupendous female characters in this novel are hilarious, bold, confident, sexy (in the best kind of way), and inspiring. It was also the first book that we reviewed here at the Slatebreakers blog, so it will also hold a special place in my heart.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King

A Slatebreaking book starring a boy character – this was an exciting development for us as reviewers. Lucky is a terrifically resilient young man, and A. S. King tackles bullying in an innovative and refreshing way. We also got to meet A. S. King at our local bookstore and she is super cool. That was another highlight of 2011 associated with this book.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya’s Ghost captures that mix of angst, indecision, and self-consciousness that was the hallmark of my high school years. Anya accidentally acquires a ghost companion, and although things quickly get out of control, she takes responsibility and solves the problem. I loved the way that Brosgol depicted the tough choices of adolescent social life, and how Anya as a character handled these difficult decisions. Watch for my review in January!

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I am absolutely cheating by putting this on my list because this book is not actually marketed to Young Adult readers. But I can’t help myself. This book was one of my favorites of the year so it has to go in my top five. Besides, I would have no qualms about handing Bossypants to a mature teen reader. Tina Fey proves that yes, women can be and are hilarious. I also appreciated how Tina wrote about her work/life balance and the unique challenges she faced as a woman working in comedy. You can find the New York Times review of the book here.


Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Thrilling and sometimes terrifying magical adventure, in which an albino Nigerian girl discovers she has magical abilities as one of the Leopard People. I loved the blend of myth and original storytelling here, and the relationship between Sunny and the rest of her Leopard People friends as they come together. Compelling writing and fantastic characters make for an unforgettable fantasy. 

All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen

This book stunned me with its sheer cleverness. It’s not easy to write an adaptation that well-serves the source material while crafting a totally original story, and Rosen manages it tenfold, with two separate and very famous sources! Give this book to anyone you know who loves theatre, steampunk, classic literature or feminism.

And Then Things Fell Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

This book wins my unsung hero of the year award. I don’t know why it didn’t get more attention! It made me laugh and cry, sometimes in the same paragraph. Keek’s voice was authentic and the writing is sharp and funny. Plus, it’s set in Chicago, which is always a bonus factor for me! If I were making a list simply of characters I’d like to hang out with, Keek would definitely be my number 1.

Chime by Franny Billingsley

I didn’t review this one because I read it early in the year, before this blog existed! A shame, because it was fantastic. Magical and mysterious with a totally unreliable yet still Slatebreaking narrator. I was completely swept up in reading about Briony, Eldric, Rose and everyone else and incredibly impressed by the world and surrounding mythology that Billingsley creates for her characters.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone 
by Laini Taylor

This is one of those books that I read on a plane, and was shocked to find myself suddenly at my destination. That’s how good, and completely enrapturing it was. Taylor transports us completely to both contemporary Prague (magical in its own right) and to an otherworldly, unrecognizable landscape, layered with fascinating characters and breathtaking plot twists.

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2 Responses to Best of 2011: Our Favorite Young Adult Titles

  1. I know I already said this on Twitter, but I LOVE this list! Across the Universe was such an unexpectedly lovely book (and…I kind of like the cover?), and Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the best fantasies I’ve read in years (let’s hear it for something other than dystopia!), and Chime has become the book that I tell everyone I know to read (especially because it’s a stand-alone novel—have to say that I’m getting a bit worn out when it comes to trilogies).

    All Men of Genius is very high on my TBR list, and ahhh…here’s to another great year of YA books.

  2. D. Vaughn says:

    Just discovered that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is by a Portland, OR author! I love your list even more now.

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