My 2010 Megalist compiles votes from over 170 sources into one spreadsheet and provides the final word on the best reviewed books of the year. In previous posts, I’ve provided top 10 lists for general fiction, historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers, narrative nonfiction, and biographies and memoirs. Today let’s look at this year’s crop in young adult fiction. These books make a refreshing alternative for book groups, no matter what the age of members.
1. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins (29 votes)
The finale to Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy is the runaway winner in a quieter year for young adult fiction. Since Katniss Everdeen is coming to a multiplex near you, this series is going to remain red hot. It’s the dystopian story of a corrupt central government that consolidates power through a media-circus reality television program that pits young people from each part of the country against each other in a battle to the death. One contestant finds a way to not only survive, but turn her popularity into the turning point in a revolution against the capital.
2. Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi (12 votes)
Young Nailer scavenges the remains of Gulf Coast ships in a post-apocalyptic America. When his crew finds a well equipped luxury liner, their fortune may be made. But it might be even better: a young woman in the wreckage claims to know about even more wealth to which she can lead Nailer, but only if he will aid in her rescue.
3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green & David Levithan (10 votes)
In alternating chapters, two talented writers tell the story of an odd friendship between a straight kid and a gay kid who share the same name and not much else. Together with the unforgettable Tiny (who is not) Cooper, they are trying to navigate the difficult years of high school.
4 (tie). Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (9 votes)
Pretty and popular, but also selfish and cruel, Samantha Kingston gets a cruel surprise on Valentines Day: her death in a car accident. Instead of the end, Sam will re-live the events of her final day seven times, each time changing her behavior and getting a little more right. Readers will wonder right up until the end what kind of ending Oliver has cooked up.
4 (tie). Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness (9 votes)
Ness’s third in the Chaos Walking series should only be attempted by those who read the first two books. This big story of the battle for control of a colonized planet touches on themes of war, peace, revolution, gender differences, morality, colonialism, and more. There’s less comic relief in this entry and more drama (if that’s possible) and romance as Ness goes for the big finish.
7. Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly (8 votes)
In Paris, battling the depression brought on by her brother’s death, young Andi Alpers finds a diary that belonged to the companion of the last dauphin of France. Andi’s scientist father has been paid to identify a preserved heart that might well have belonged to the same young prince. This is the starting point for a tale of two parallel and tragic lives in different eras.
And I won’t describe them, but in a tie for 8th, with 7 votes each:
Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld
Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher
The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud
Trash, by Andy Mulligan
Download the full Excel spreadsheet if you would like to see the other 123 young adult books that graced this year’s Megalist, or the choices in any of the other categories.