It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, “Be of good cheer!” It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s also the time of the year for Team Novel Teen’s Top 10 books of 2011. And this year Team Novel Teen and our Novel Teen staff all pitched in votes to come up with this list. Pretty cool, huh?
So, if you’re looking for some great young adult novels you may have missed, or a fun gift for a loved one, we hope this list will give you some good ideas. Click on the title or picture to view each book on Amazon.com.
And merry Christmas!
10. Song of the Ovulum (Children of the Bard) by Bryan Davis
(A fantasy novel for boys and girls that’s a continuation of Bryan’s Dragon’s in Our Midst series.)
Coming in at number ten this year is Bryan Davis’ new book Song of the Ovulum. We haven’t even gotten a chance to review this book yet, but it got enough votes from the team to make the list, so here is the description of the book:
It has been fifteen years since Billy and Bonnie Bannister helped repel the demonic assault on Heaven. Now they and Ashley Foley sit in a maximum security prison where the authorities conduct experiments on them to learn the secrets of long life. Earlier, the world’s acceptance of dragonkind crumbled, and the Enforcers took the infant twins born to Billy and Bonnie and stole Excalibur, hoping to develop a weapon to battle the dragons that are sure to try to rescue their allies. All the while, a great secret from the past is being revealed to Bonnie through a dream. Joran and Selah, teenaged children of Methuselah, have been trapped in a strange world for centuries, yet still able to manipulate certain events in our world during that time.
The fate of two worlds now rests on the Bannisters’ two teenagers who must use their dragon traits and their innate courage to battle demons, a sorceress, and soldiers in a military compound in order to rescue parents they don’t even know.
9. Replication by Jill Williamson
(A science fiction/suspense story for male and female readers, akin the James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books, though a little less comic book-like.)
Number nine comes from our own Jill Williamson. Her new book with Zonderkidz, though it deals with the touchy subject of human cloning, will surprise and entertain readers.
Review by J. R. Parker
Martyr, or Jason 3:3, is one of fifty-five clones living in an underground lab in Alaska. The clones are closely supervised and forbidden from entering the outside world because of the “toxic air.” And, well, the guards and locks and cameras. Expiration on their eighteenth birthday is something the Jasons have come to accept. But Martyr wants to see the sky before he dies. And when he steals a card key and makes it past security, the adventure begins.
Abby Goyer, one of the lab scientist’s daughters, is Martyr’s first contact and fiercest defender. Together, she and Martyr attempt to elude those so desperate to get him back, facing down not only their pursuers, but the uncertain allegiance of her father. And the shear outlandishness of Martyr’s story makes finding allies difficult. In their flight, they piece together a trail of clues that could explain more of the secrets buried in Jason Farms and in Martyr’s genetic code. Slowly, Martyr drifts from the embrace of his expiration, toward a new purpose…
The mesmerizing depth of character Williamson’s readers have come to expect is woven deftly into Replication, with extra layers of gripping suspense and twisting mystery. I did not intend to stay up reading this book until the early morning hours, but that was the result. And on a computer screen, no less, making this the first time I’ve ever convinced my eyes to read a novel in its entirety on a backlit surface. They did not complain.
8. The Final Hour by Andrew Klavan
(An action-adventure series like no other. Boys will eat it up. And some girls will like it too.)
This has been a wonderful four-book series for boys. And this year, all four books are available, so now you can order the whole set!
Review by Jill Williamson
Charlie West is in prison, and not just some juvenile detentions center. He’s in Abingdon State Prison, a high security prison for the vilest offenders. And between the prisoners and the brutal guards, it looks like Charlie might be someone’s next victim.
But his memories are slowly coming back, and Charlie learns that a terrorist strike is coming soon. He has to do something, but what? No one will listen to a convict, all his allys are gone, and time is ticking away. But Charlie can’t give up. Not when lives are at stake.
Loved it! And I closed this book with a smile on my face, because these four novels really felt like one big story, and it was tough to wait for each next one. I loved the way Andrew Klavan told this tale, how he weaved it backwards and forwards with action and memories and mystery. It was very cleverly done. This is a GREAT series for boy readers. So if you love action and adventure novels, or if you’re looking for some books for a young man, look no further. This is the series. I highly recommend all four Homelander books.
7. There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
(A contemporary novel for girls with the perfect balance of real life, humor, and romance.)
Whenever Jenny B. Jones writes a novel for teens, you can bet we will rave about it. This book is a great read. We adored it.
Review by Jill Williamson
When Finley Sinclair leaves home to study abroad in Ireland, her goal is to follow in her brother Will’s footsteps, using his journal as a guide. She wants to see the places Will saw, feel what he felt when he traveled through Ireland before he died. She’s hoping for closure, and an ending to the song she is composing.
But she meets Hollywood heartthrob Beckett Rush on the airplane—the last thing she needs, another guy who’s full of himself and drawn to trouble. But her lack of interest intrigues Beckett, and he makes her his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide in finding all the places in Will’s journal. But the pressure is too much on Finley. Why won’t God help her heal? Isn’t Ireland the place where she should find him?
Ah… very well done. Jenny B. Jones is a wonderful authors. I say it every time I read one of her books, but it’s true. This book hooked me in with its characters and its country (Ireland). It made me want to visit Ireland. It reminded me that everyone was young once, and we all have a past. I loved Finley and Beckett’s characters. But as this was a Jenny B. Jones book, I wasn’t surprised to find that I loved just about every character. This is a wonderful book. Highly recommended for all girl readers, no matter how old you are.
6. The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O’Dell
(A contemporary story that deals with tough life issues in an engaging way. Girl readers will be hooked.)
Number six on the top ten list comes for our own Nicole O’Dell. She has penned the first in a wonderful new series. We can’t wait to read them all!
Review by Jill Williamson
Olivia Mansfield has everything a girl could want. She lives in a mansion, has a rich stepfather, a mother who spoils her, and a wonderful big brother. But it’s all a mirage. Her stepfather’s abuse, her mother’s indifference, and nightmares of her real father’s death make Olivia’s live something she wants to get away from.
So when her friend introduces Olivia to the party scene, Olivia is only too happy to indulge in this means of escape. But one too many parties and the death of her friend lead Olivia to a girls’ home called Diamond Estates, her last hope at getting her life on track before she loses it.
Talk about your coming of age novel! Wow. This book sucked me in and didn’t let go. And when it was done, I was sad. I wanted to keep reading about Olivia’s life, all the way until she was a grandmother. Alas, the book stopped WAY before then. Ah well, it was worth it. Olivia’s story and her journey to find herself enthralled me. I was rooting for the truth to be revealed every step of the way. This is a wonderful book for young girls. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!
5. Gravestone by Travis Thrasher
(A Christian thriller for teens that will keep eyes wise, lights on, and pages flying.)
Christian horror for teens? Who knew? But Travis Thrasher has started an amazing new series with his Solitary novels. Creepy, mysterious, and completely addictive. It you, or someone you know, loves a scare, you’ve got to get these books.
Review by Jill Williamson
A recent tragedy has left Chris Buckley numb. He goes to school, gets a job, and tries to make heads or tails of the insane town of Solitary, North Carolina. His investigations in to what happened only leave him with more questions—and more warnings to stay out of it. His mom is convinced a man haunts her in her dreams, and now she is drinking more than ever.
Chris befriends a girl in art class, but he’s afraid that any new friends he makes may end up getting hurt. He searches for sparks of light in his dismal hometown, but everything only seems to lead to more darkness.
Okay. I’m officially hooked now.
This is the first Christian young adult horror series I’ve ever read. David C. Cook is calling this “young adult mystery/suspense,” but it’s horror if I’ve ever read horror. But it’s cool and creepy and entertaining—and you can’t possibly guess what’s going to happen. That’s what I like most, second to Chris Buckley’s voice. If you like your creepy horror stories, pick up this series. But keep in mind: there will be four books. So you’ll have to wait, wait, wait with the rest of us.
4. The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
(A medieval, fairy tale romance that will thrill girl readers.)
Some of the most well-known stories of all time are fairytales. We love them once, we love them twice, we’ll always love them. And this retelling of Beauty and the Beast is a sweet read for the romantic heart.
Review by Jill Williamson
For years Annabel’s family shirked their duties and now that Lord Ranulf is moving to town, they must pay for their crimes. Unfortunately, the responsibility falls to Annabel. She must marry the evil bailiff or become Lord Ranulf’s servant. Choosing the lesser of two evils, she packs her bags and begins three years of indentured servitude.
But life with Lord Ranulf is not as horrible as she feared. Though the man has a horrible temper and is scarred and disfigured, he allows Annabel to read from the bible, something she has always dreamed of doing. But when Annabel is attacked and a man gravely injured, everything good hangs in the balance, including Annabel and Lord Ranulf’s futures.
Oooh, I love a good romance novel! And Melanie Dickerson writes very sweet romance novels. But they’re fairytales, and fairytales always include an evil villain and danger. The Merchant’s Daughter did not disappoint. I loved Annabel and Lord Ranulf’s characters. I loved the initial misunderstandings, and I especially loved how it all worked out in the end. If you love fairytale romances, this one is a must read.
3. Monster in the Hallows (Wingfeather Saga, book 3) by Andrew Peterson
(A wonderful fantasy series for girls and boys… and adults too.)
Was there every any doubt that this book would make the list? This series came from a new author and captivated the hearts of readers everywhere. If you haven’t discovered these books yet, what are you waiting for?
Review by Jill Williamson
Janner and his family settle into life in the Green Hollows, but people don’t really accept them, especially the furry Kalmar, whom they think is a Fang. Janner must step up into his role as a Throne Warden to keep Kalmar from getting into a fight that could destroy their entire family. But there are mysteries, betrayals, and dangers lurking. Janner does all he can to watch over and defend his brother, but what he can’t manage to do is convince himself that Kalmar is innocent.
I love Andrew Peterson’s stories. He is a genius. His characters and dialogue are delightful. I cannot wait to see how this series will end. The only thing that felt off about this book was that—through most of it—it felt like its own story, like a standalone novel, separate from the first two books in the series. I enjoyed the book a great deal, and it all tied together nicely in the end, but I missed the overall plot of the series through most of this volume. If you haven’t read Andrew Peterson’s work, start with book one, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. They are fabulous.
2. From Darkness Won (Blood of Kings, book 3) by Jill Williamson
(Fantasy, adventure, and a bit of romance. Great for boys, girls, and adults, too.)
From our own Jill Williamson… the adventure has ended! Readers have fallen in love with Achan and Vrell. And this is the final tale Achan and Vrell embark on one last journey, an epic battle, and take the final stand to push back Darkness or perish.
Review by Christian Miles
This is it. The final book of the Blood of Kings trilogy.
Achan and Vrell have come far. They’ve fought Black Knights in Darkness, freed prisoners from icy cells, escaped the wrath of a bloodthirsty usurper… but now they’ve found themselves in the midst of a war. Everything hangs in the balance, and if the Crown Prince cannot take the throne at Armonguard, Darkness will consume all the land.
Our final foray into the land of Er’rets couldn’t have been better. I don’t know how she did it, but somehow Jill Williamson managed to write the perfect last book to her Blood of Kings trilogy, tying off every loose end with flair. From Darkness Won had me up until 3 a.m. reading. It bonded to my hands the moment I picked it up, refusing to be put down until the last page fell. Five stars and a standing ovation are in order, I think.
Very highly recommended.
1. BONUS!!! Waterfall, Cascade–and–Torrent (All three books in The River of Time Trilogy) by Lisa T. Bergen
(A time travel romance trilogy that girl readers will inhale.)
Another series that came from out of nowhere and captivated readers. The River of Time trilogy from Lisa T. Bergen has melted the hearts of girls everywhere. If you like romance, you owe it to yourself to get hooked on this series.
Review of book one Waterfall by Stefanie Morris
What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?
Waterfall combines my two favorite genres, fantasy and historical fiction, with quite a bit of romance thrown in.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini are two American sisters who have spent way too much time kicking around Italian archaeological digs with their parents. Then Gabi and Lia enter an Etruscan tomb and time travel back to 14th century Italy. If that isn’t bad enough, something goes wrong and the sisters become separated.
This book started a tad slow, but the story hooked me once the action got going. Gabi’s concern for her lost sister makes her a sympathetic heroine. And I really enjoyed reading about medieval Italy.
At first, I was a little annoyed at Gabi’s attraction to a 14th century knight. Sure he’s hot and looks great in his tunic, tights, and breastplate. But how can they have a future if she plans to go back to the future? Ah, but author Lisa Bergren is not going to leave us wondering. She plans several more books in the series. Now my only problem is waiting for the sequel to resolve Gabi’s romantic dilemma.
So there you have it! We hope you saw something new on this list, something to perk your interest or spark an idea for a gift. From all of us at Novel Teen, Merry Christmas! And we hope that you all get to read many wonderful clean teen fiction titles in 2012!