Ten Most Underappreciated Teen Books of 2000-2009

Oh, I love lists! I love making my end of year book lists, and I love reading everyone else’s! But when a decade comes to a close, you have the opportunity of a lifetime to make an extra-special, super-significant (if only to me:) BIG book list. So I decided to compile a list of the 10 most under-the-radar, deserving-of-more-love-than-they-got YA books of the decade, IMHO.  (And if any of these look familiar, it’s because they were each plucked from the RR Top Ten list of their respective year.) I do hope this inspires you to go back and dig these lovelies up, and also to think about what books would end up not just on your end of year list, but on your fav books of the DECADE. Or even OF ALL TIME. (It’s just fun giving your list a name in ALL CAPS. That means it’s even MORE AWESOME:)

2000: Eight Seconds by Jean Ferris

2001: Every Time a Rainbow Diesby Rita Williams-Garcia

2002: Tribes by Arthur Slade

2003: Deep by Susanna Vance

2004: Rockstar, Superstar by Blake Nelson

2005: Lovesickby Jake Coburn

2006: The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

2007: Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess

2008: Life Sucks by Jessica Abel

2009: Punkzilla by Adam Rapp

2009 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 of the books I read this year. (While I love all my Top Ten books the same, I just might love HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT a tiny bit more:) Click on the title to go right to the review.

Bray, Libba. Going Bovine.

Cullen, Dave. Columbine.

Katcher, Brian. Almost Perfect

Kelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

Rapp, Adam. Punkzilla.

Small, David. Stitches.

Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl.

Standiford, Natalie. How to Say Goodbye in Robot.

Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World.

Yancy, Rick. The Monstrumologist.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Their first sign was the small-engine plane crash. By the time the huge Irish Airlines jet crashed a few days later, they were already beginning to understand that the situation was not good, and wasn’t likely to get better. They are the townspeople of Chester’s Mill, Maine. There are about two thousand of them, give or take. And their situation is this: On a perfectly normal fall day, a huge and impenetrable dome materializes over their little town that traps them all like ants under a magnifying glass. Electricity is cut off, air quality is compromised, and temperatures are rising. What is this dome? Where did it come from? (Yes, this does sound like the plot to The Simpson’s Movie, but King claims to have started writing this one years before Homer hit the big screen.) Immediately the outside world tries to come up with answers, while the suddenly made smaller world of Chester’s Mill begins to mobilize into two opposing teams: those who follow “Big Jim” Rennie, blowhard local bureaucrat and possible sociopath, and those who follow Dale Barbara, Iraq war vet and drifter. If you’ve read The Stand or It, then you know how this goes down: good vs. evil, a massive battle in the brewing, and loads of gory casualties, with only the pure of heart surviving. But it doesn’t matter if you think you know how this is going to end, because this is King, and he always makes getting there more than half the fun. Skillfully manipulating a cast of dozens that includes three plucky middle school skateboarders, a curious, hearty Corgi named Horace and a budding serial killer, King uses supernatural means to show how a small town responds to crisis when they have no one but themselves to depend on. And the results ain’t pretty! Gross, suspenseful, and chock full of meaty themes about love, family, politics and the environment, this book was a blast even though I nearly threw my back out toting it around. I know I have some serious teenage King fans out there (because I was one myself, grasshoppers) and trust me, this is THE book you want to ask the ‘rents to stash under the tree or menorah for you this holiday. Not just because it’s AWESOME and probably his best full-length novel since The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, but also because it weighs as much as small loaded suitcase and you’d probably rather finish it over break so you don’t have to lug it back and forth to school. While you count down ’til school’s out, take a peek at this pretty cool Under the Dome book trailer.