Teens Top Ten Books of 2011

Every year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), part of the American Library Association, puts out a Teens Top Ten Books list. These books are provided to participating teen reading groups in libraries across the country by publishers. The teens then read and rate the books and send in their responses to the YALSA, which comes up with a national list of titles. Voting is open to teens across the country during August and September of each year, with the results announced in late October during Teen Read Week. It is important to note that this is not a list of the top ten releases in 2011, or the best young adult books of 2011, but the top ten most popular books read during that year. As such, unlike those populating The Ranting Dragon’s Top Books of the year lists, some of these novels were released in 2010, and some in 2011.

What struck me about the list this year is that of the twenty-five nominations, only four titles did not fall into the category of speculative fiction. None of those four made the top ten. This truly illustrates the incredible explosion of speculative fiction in YA we’ve been seeing over the past ten years, even before you take into account that several of these titles have movie versions either already released or in the works. What’s also stunning is how many of these books are part of a series. These authors are likely to be major players in the YA scene for several years yet, and their readers’ tastes will shape the future of the adult genre. While there are appearances on this list of the types of teenage love stories that made the Twilight Saga so popular, there is also a refreshing amount of dark, dystopian novels meant to make you think.

And on to the list! Some of these titles we’ve already reviewed, and those we haven’t yet, you can look forward to seeing on the site in the coming weeks.

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Cassandra Clare burst onto the YA scene in 2007 with the first book of her Mortal Instruments series, of which Clockwork Angel is the first installment of a prequel companion series. Unlike her earlier work, this is a steampunk series set in Victorian London. With fleshed out characters and an engaging plot, this is a must-read for followers of YA fantasy.
Want to find out more? Read our review of The Clockwork Angel.
2. Mockingjay by Susanne Collins Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
This is the final volume in Collins’ blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy. While they were written for teens and the protagonist is herself a teenager, there have been a lot of questions about the suitability of this book for reading by teenagers. If anything, this should tell you that even as an adult, you’re likely to be able to pick this book up and enjoy it. The writing here is masterful, although the book is even darker than the first two installments. And let’s not forget, the film adaptation of the first book, The Hunger Games, is due out March 23, 2012 in the US.
Want to find out more? Read our review of Mockingjay.
3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
It’s a shame to call Fitzpatrick the heir apparent to Stephanie Meyer, no matter the similarities in their work and audiences. Fitzpatrick is a much better writer with deep characters and good worldbuilding. In this second installment of her urban fantasy series, protagonist Nora proves she’s no Bella by taking charge and taking names in her attempt to find her father’s killer, even if boyfriend Patch isn’t being much help.
Want to find out more? Read our review of Crescendo.
4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
I Am Number Four is a science fiction novel with familiar tropes such as aliens living among us blending perfectly with humanity. Even the “author” Pittacus Lore claims to be an ancient alien here to warn of this. In reality, Lore is the combined pseudonym of James Frey (yes, that James Frey whose claim to fame is writing a fake memoir chosen as part of Oprah’s book club) and Jobie Hughes, a desperate author with a mountain of college debt. It seems Frey wanted to produce the next Twilight or Harry Potter and believed the next big thing was aliens. If you read a lot of science fiction, you’ll find nothing here but rehashed science fiction tropes molded into what Frey believes to be a commercial novel that will trick teens into thinking it’s good literature. Watch the movie first, if in doubt, though I hear it’s better than the book. When’s the last time you heard that?
Want to find out more? Our review of I Am Number Four coming soon! More on Pitticas Lore can be found here, 
5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Another treat for Twilight fans and detractors alike, Kagawa’s series is a tribute to all things fey and fantastic. Meghan is a half-fey teenager living in our world. When her brother is kidnapped by the faeries and replaced with a changeling, it’s up to Meghan to rescue him. Highly entertaining and original, Kagawa’s style of writing makes for a fun and entertaining read.
Want to find out more? Read our review of The Iron King.
6. Matched by Allie Condie Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Have you read The Giver by Lois Lowry? If so, you’ll be very familiar with a great deal of the worldbuilding in Ally Condie’s dystopian novel, Matched. A world in which the lives of the people are decided for them and their emotions are carefully controlled by pills is an interesting, if previously used, premise, but all that’s left if you take out the dystopian elements is a standard YA romance. A young heroine who must choose between two love interests, one the best friend type and the other the mysterious emo guy. If that’s your cup of tea, Matched will be a quick, enjoyable read. If you’re bored of the standard love triangle, I would suggest looking elsewhere for a better YA novel.
Want to find out more? Our review of Matched coming soon.
7. Angel by James Patterson Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Patterson is one of the most prolific and successful authors of our time. His works spans multiple genres and age groups. The Maximum Ride series follows a group of genetically altered children. In Angel, the seventh and penultimate volume, our heroes are out to stop the Doomsday Group from destroying non-mutants. The series will wrap up in February 2012 with the eighth book, Nevermore.
8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
This debut work made the New York Times Bestseller list in 2010, and the movie rights have been sold. The book is a well-written urban fantasy, featuring werewolves, vampires (nasty, creepy, non-Twilight vampires) and faeries among other things. The excellent writing present here makes the first installment in a coming-of-age trilogy an enjoyable read.
Want to find out more? Our review of Paranormalcy coming soon!
9. Before I Fall by Laruen Oliver Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
The lone offering of literary speculative fiction on the list, Before I Fall explores the idea of what might happen if you got to rewind the day you died and live it over (and over and over). What would you change? What changes would be enough? And what would you eventually learn by living one day over again seven times? The writing here is absolutely fantastic and makes for a worthwhile read no matter your age.
Want to find out more? Our review of Before I Fall coming soon!
10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Another urban fantasy, this first installment of a trilogy introduces us to Calla, a teenaged shapeshifter trapped in an authoritarian society. She’s been trained all her life for a single purpose, but as she approaches her eighteenth birthday she is forced to decide whether she wants to live the life planned for her or if she’ll live her life for herself. An international bestseller, this coming of age story is a wonderful addition to the YA genre.
Want to find out more? Our review of Nightshade coming soon.

And in no particular order, here are the other speculative fiction nominees:

Drought by Pam Bachorz Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Zombies Vs Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalastier Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Want to know more? Read our review of The Lost Gate.
Lies by Michael Grant Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
The False Princess by Ellis O’Neal Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld Buy on Amazon.com Buy at The Book Depository Buy at Barnes and Noble Find this book on Goodreads
Want to know more? Our review of Behemoth coming soon!

About Janea Schimmel

Janea Schimmel
Janea is an avid fantasy reader who after college inexplicably found herself working in a library. She was the only one surprised by this strange turn of events. When not surrounded by books, she enjoys working on her own fantastical fiction (thereby restoring order to her universe by having a book nearby), as well as making music (clarinet, vocals, renaissance recorder), cooking, and honing various skills made obsolete by the industrial revolution.

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