Jen’s 2007 Top Ten Books

someday this painThe 2007 Top Ten list has been posted! You can find it under “Jen’s Yearly Top Ten Lists” on the right hand sidebar, towards the bottom of the RR homepage. Please check it out and let me know what you think. Am I right on the money? Or have I missed/dissed some of your favorites? Please leave a comment and let me know what would have made YOUR top ten of 2007! (Even though I try to love all my Top Ten Books the same, if I had to pick my very favorite, it would have to be Peter Cameron’s angsty YA debut, shown at right.)

2007 Top Ten

Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by age, gender or genre. These are just my “from-the-gut” favorites. No annotations this year, just click on the title to go right to the review.

Brande, Robin. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature.

Burgess, Melvin. Bloodsong.

Cameron, Peter. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

Downham, Jenny. Before I Die.

Ellis, Ann Dee. This is What I Did.

Jenkins, A.M. Repossessed.

Juby, Susan. Another Kind of Cowboy.

Lockhart, E. Dramarama.

Peet, Mal. Tamar.

Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars.

2006 Top Ten

Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by age, gender or genre. These are just my “from-the-gut” favorites. You can find longer reviews for most of these titles by searching the site. Happy reading!

Anderson, M.T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party. (8th-12th grade)After a young man slowly realizes that he and his mother, an African queen, are the subjects of an extensive social science experiment in pre-Revolutionary America, he takes drastic steps to save them both from a life of slavery and servitude. Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Young People.

Gantos, Jack. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs. (9th-12th grade)
Sixteen-year-old Ivy learns some disturbing family secrets after she discovers a taxidermied body in the basement that could be her paternal grandmother.

Hautman, Pete. Rash. (7th-12th grade)
In an ultra-safe future, where contact sports and name-calling have been outlawed, teenaged Bo breaks the rules and ends up in a penal pizza-making factory, where he ironically learns the true meaning of freedom.

Jenkins, A.M. Beating Heart: A Ghost Story. (8th-12th grade)
Evan begins to realize that he’s not alone in his new room when he begins to have disturbing dreams of a girl from the past who’s in trouble.

Lawrence, Iain. Gemini Summer. (7th-10th grade)
This nostalgic historical fiction of a boy and his devoted dog who manage to stay together against overwhelming odds, will remind teen readers of Stephen King’s Stand By Me, or S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

Parkinson, Siobhan. Something Invisible. (6th-8th grade)
Eleven-year-old Jake only likes football and fish, until eccentric, outspoken Stella comes into his life and changes it forever.

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life As We Knew It. (7th-12th grade)
When an asteroid hits the moon, causing worldwide natural disasters, small-town girl Miranda must give up all the things she used to take for granted, like electricity, clean laundry, and chocolate. My personal favorite book of 2006.

Ruby, Laura. Good Girls. (9th-12th grade)
Good girl Audrey’s life goes into a downward spiral when a vindictive friend mass-emails a cell-phone photo of Audrey doing something not-so-nice with a boy at a party.

Vaughan, Brian K. and Niko Henrichon. Pride of Baghdad. (9th-12th grade)
This disturbing and sad graphic novel for grown-ups about a pride of lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid of Iraq makes a powerful statement the meaning of freedom that will resonate with older teens.

Yang, Gene. American Born Chinese. (7th-12th grade)
This brightly colored, charismatic graphic novel, about a young middle school student’s struggle to become comfortable with his racial identity, is rich in wisdom and folklore, and ripe with humor and pop culture references. Nominated for the 2006 National Book Award for Young People. Winner of the 2006 Michael L. Printz award.

2005 Top Ten

Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by age, gender or genre. These are just my “from-the-gut” favorites. You can find longer reviews for most of these titles by searching the site. Happy reading!

Coburn, Jake. Lovesick. (8-12th grade)
College freshmen Ted and Erica fall in love after discovering each other’s addiction-his to alcohol, hers to bulimia.

Fleming, Candace. Our Eleanor. (7th-12th grade)
Candace Fleming’s chatty scrapbook approach to this American icon makes Eleanor Roosevelt seem more like a wonderful acquaintance you’d love to get to know better as opposed to a distant political figure.

Griffin, Adele. Where I Want to Be. (7-12th grade)
Two sisters, one dead and one alive, struggle to reconcile their feelings for one another as each stands on the brink of a new life.

Halam, Ann. Siberia. (8-12th grade)
In a frozen future, teenage Sloe carries the genetic seeds of long-extinct animals on a quest to save the planet and find her long-lost mother.

Hearn, Julie. The Minister’s Daughter. (8-12th grade)
Happy-go-lucky Nell finds herself suddenly labeled a witch when the spiteful daughter of the minister accuses her of spell-casting in order to draw attention away from her own terrible secret.

Lanagan, Margo. Black Juice. (9-12th grade)
Short story master Lanagan drops readers into ten bizarre and original worlds that contain unforgettable images of beauty and horror.

Lynch, Chris. Inexcusable. (8-12th grade)
Self-proclaimed “good guy” Keir tries to explain why the reader should believe his word over that of Gigi Boudakian, who claims he date-raped her.

Westerfeld, Scott. Uglies. (7-12th grade)
In a future where everyone is Pretty, Tally Youngblood must betray her best friend to the government or stay Ugly forever.

Wooding, Chris. Poison. (7th-12th grade)
Cynical teen Posion sets off on a mission to rescue her kidnapped sister, and instead finds a world of treacherous magic that she must learn to control.

Yoo, David. Girls for Breakfast. (8th-12th grade)
Graduating senior Nick Park can’t understand why girls have never liked him as much as he has liked them. Is it because he’s Korean?

2004 Top Ten

Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by age, gender or genre. These are just my “from-the-gut” favorites.

Braff, Joshua. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green. (9-12th grade, adult)
13 year old Jacob Green tries to establish his identity within his seriously dysfunctional suburban Jewish family during the late 70’s/early 80’s.

Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts. (6-8th)
12 year old Moose Flanagan is first terrified and then intrigued when his dad accepts a prison guard position at the infamous Alcatraz Island in 1935.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. (8-12th)
15 year old Luther Farrell turns the tables on his scam artist mother in this engaging story of a young man determined not to follow in the footsteps of his morally bankrupt parent.

Marchetta, Melina. Saving Francesca. (8-12th)
High school junior Francesca Spinelli is reluctant to admit how much she loves and needs her vivacious mother Mia until Mia suffers a nervous breakdown and refuses to leave her bed.

Meyer, L.A. Curse of the Blue Tattoo: being an account of the misadventures of Jacky Faber, midshipman and fine lady. (6-12th) Having blown her “Grand Deception,” Jacky Faber, former ship’s “boy,” has been unceremoniously dropped off in Boston to learn the art of becoming a fine lady. Sequel to Bloody Jack.

Nelson, Blake. Rock Star, Superstar. (8-12th)
Pete learns what it takes to make it in a garage band, while stumbling through his first real romantic relationship with Margaret.

Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. (5-10th)
Young Matt Cruse defends his beloved airship against sky pirates and wild flying cats, while falling for the lovely Kate.

Pratchett, Terry. A Hat Full of Sky. (5-10th)
Tiffany Aching battles the evil Hiver, with the help of other witches and her trusty hat. Sequel to The Wee Free Men.

Provoost, Anne. In the Shadow of the Ark. (8-12th)
Re Jana and her family have doubts that the mighty flood Noach is predicting will really come.

Shepard, Jim. Project X. (9-12th, adult)
8th graders Edwin and Flake concoct a fatal plan to finally end the bullying at their school.

2003 Top Ten

Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by genre, gender, or age designation. These are just my from-the-gut favorites.

Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light (7-12th)
In turn-of-the-century upstate New York, in the midst of a murder investigation, a young woman finds that she must make a choice between becoming a writer or beginning a family.

Frank. E.R.. Friction (8th+)
Alex tries to decide if the sordid tales told to her about her beloved teacher by a sophisticated new classmate, are true.

Jenkins, A.M.. Out of Order (8-12th)
High school sophomore Colt Trammel learns more about himself than he ever wanted to know as he negotiates relationships with three difficult women, one them his long-time girlfriend, who all have a valuable lesson to teach him.

Maynard, Joyce. The Usual Rules (8th+)
13 year old Wendy attempts to come to terms with her mother’s death on September 11, 2001, by moving to California to live with her biological father, whom she barely knows.

Parker, Jeff. The Interman (6-12th)
Van Meach, a globally built genetic “super spy” finds himself under attack when the governments that made him decide that it is too dangerous to allow him to live.

Reeve, Philip. Mortal Engines (7-12th)
In a frightening future where cities move on tracks like tanks and large towns “devour” small suburbs whole, third class history apprentice Tom and scarred orphan Hester try to unravel the mystery of the destructive weapon that is hidden in London’s core.

Rapp, Adam. 33 Snowfish (9-12th)
Three troubled teenagers with violent pasts are on the run from the law and from themselves.

Stroud, Jonathan. Bartimaeus Trilogy Book One: The Amulet of Samarkand (6-12th)
The wickedly funny and sage genie Bartimeaus is humiliated to be bound in service to scrawny, but powerful twelve year old magician-in-training Nathaniel.

Thompson, Craig. Blankets (9-12th)
The angst-ridden tale of one teen’s journey through the pitfalls of adolescence, which include his growing disillusionment with his religion and a passionate first love affair.

Vance, Susanna. Deep (8-12th)
13 year old Birdie Sidwell and 17 year old Morgan Bera become unlikely allies when they find themselves confronting a ruthless modern pirate.

2002 Top Ten (Actually Eleven)

Note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by genre, gender, or age designation. Just my from-the-heart, gut-reaction favorites.

Anderson, M.T.. Feed (gr. 8-12)
Chronicles the lives of teens in a warped future where corporations rule culture, and most newborn children are implanted with a “feed,” or mini-computer in their heads.

Barker, Clive. Abarat (gr. 7-12)
Teenaged Candy Quakenbush finds herself spirited away to the mystical land of Abarat, where each hour of the day is a different island, and the Lord of Midnight stalks her.

Frank, E.R.. America (gr. 9-12)
Troubled foster child America reveals the sad confusion of his short life to the sympathetic Dr. B., the one adult who might finally be able to help him.

Frank, Hillary. Better Than Running at Night (gr. 9-12)
Ellie Yelinsky’s freshman year at art school turns out to be an unexpectedly strange experience, as Ellie dances with the Devil and learns that painting is more about craft than angst.

Freymann-Weyr, Garrett. My Heartbeat (gr. 8-12)
Their three-way friendship is forever altered when 14 year old Ellen questions whether her older brother and his best friend are more than just locker buddies.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline (gr. 5-9)
Young Coraline gets more than she bargained for when she discovers a secret passageway in her house that leads right back to her house…only different.

Gantos, Jack. Hole in My Life (gr. 8-10)
The infectiously funny author of the Joey Pigza books switches gears with this serious memoir about his mixed-up youth, and how the time he spent in prison as a young man influenced him as a writer.

Lawrence, Iain. The Lightkeeper’s Daughter (gr. 9-12)
A teenage mother tries to reconcile with her lighthouse-keeping parents, despite feeling that it was their remote and lonely lifestyle that led to her brother’s death.

Powell, Randy. Three Clams and an Oyster (gr. 9-12)
Three members of a flag football team search for a fourth teammate over a weekend in which they confront their attitudes about friendship, girls and their shared past.

Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones (gr. 9-12)
Susie Salmon narrates the story of her brutal murder and glowing afterlife as she watches her family and friends try to cope with the gaping hole her death has left in their lives.

Slade, Arthur. Tribes (gr. 8-12)
High school senior Percy Montmount copes with his anthropologist father’s death by keeping a detailed record of the strange and elusive tribe known as Grade Twelve, of which he is a lonely outsider.