Teens’ Top Ten Nominees
By Grace Benedick, Teen Services Librarian
The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, gives out a number of literary awards for books selected by committees of librarians. However, there is one award that allows teens to get in on the fun: the Teens’ Top Ten award. Every October, teens can vote for their favorite books from a list of 25 titles published in the previous year. Teens also choose the nominees through participating book clubs throughout the U.S. The nominated books are announced in April, and voting takes place online between August 15 and October 13, 2019. Then, this year’s Teens’ Top Ten Winners will be announced during the week of October 20th, 2019.
Overall, the list leans more toward fantasy, but there are several novels that address the difficulties that real life can throw at us.
There isn’t a John Green title on the list this year, but don’t worry, his brother wrote a book, and it’s on the list. “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” by Hank Green, deals with finding fame on the internet, and the fallout that almost inevitably follows.
Gloria Chao’s “American Panda” features Mei, a freshman at MIT struggling to reconcile her parents’ goals for her with her own dreams, as the gap between their plans widens.
Darius, the protagonist of “Darius the Great Is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram, grapples with clinical depression. Although he’s half Persian, he’s more interested in Tolkien’s fictional languages than Farsi and isn’t very interested in connecting with his Persian heritage, until a trip to visit family in Iran brings him right next door to the friend he needed and never expected to find.
In “Girl Made of Stars” by Ashley Herring Blake, Mara’s beloved twin brother is accused of rape by a mutual friend. This book explores the hard question of how to respond when a loved one harms a friend.
The fantasy selections start off on a morbid note with “#MurderTrending” by Gretchen McNeil, a novel about a dystopian society where criminals are sent to a prison called Alcatraz 2.0. Prisoners there are killed in brutal and creative ways on film, which is released through an app. Dee is wrongfully sentenced and sent to Alcatraz, where she finds friends and fights to escape the twisted system.
Dhonielle Clayton sets her novel “The Belles” in a totally different kind of dystopia: a land where people are nearly all born plain, but a few are born as Belles: able to control beauty and transform others into beautiful people. Thus, the Belles are in high demand, and Camellia seeks to rise to the top and be appointed as the Queen’s favorite. Once she achieves her goal, though, she finds that her world is not what she once thought.
Unsurprisingly, Tomi Adeyemi’s “Children of Blood and Bone” also makes the list. Zélie Adebola lives in a land filled with magic, but a tyrant king rises who kills those who practice magic, including Zélie’s mother. Left with her grief and her abilities, Zélie must find a way to overthrow the new king and return magic to her land.
In 2018, Laini Taylor’s “Strange the Dreamer” won a place in the Teen’s Top Ten, and this year the sequel, “Muse of Nightmares,” has also been nominated. Although Lazlo and Sarai have transformed, the struggle continues as they face off against enemies both old and new. Marie Lu also has a sequel to one of last year’s winners on the nominee list, with “Wildcard,” which follows her sci-fi novel, “Warcross.”
Three graphic novels were nominated in 2019, which is a delightful surprise, as there were no graphic novels nominated in 2018. The graphic novels nominated for 2018 include: “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang, an exploration of gender expression set in a whimsical European fairytale world; “Speak: The Graphic Novel” by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll, adapted from Anderson’s classic novel; and the only non-fiction title on the nominee list, “The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees” by Don Brown.
To browse more of the Teens’ Top Ten nominees, as well as last year’s winners and other award-winning young adult titles, please check out the young adult award-winners display near the Teen Zone on the 2nd floor of Manhattan Public Library.