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Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Selected by the Books for Youth editors, the following titles constitute the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among adult books published in 2014. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics. Ed. by Chris Duffy. illus. First Second, $24.99 (9781626720657).
This accessible, striking collection of WWI poems adapted by talented cartoonists powerfully evokes the camaraderie, horror, and heartbreak of war in an engaging format.
A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention. By Matt Richtel. Morrow, $28.99 (9780062284068).
Richtel takes a multifaceted look at the consequences of texting while driving. A tragic yet inspirational exploration of not only the neuroscience behind attention but also the importance of fighting to make a difference.
Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves. By James Nestor. illus. Houghton, $27 (9780547985527).
After watching a freediving competition, where divers descend to dangerous depths unaided by scuba gear, Nestor sets out to learn about the allure of freediving, thus launching this exceptionally dramatic and revelatory examination.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. By Jeff Hobbs. Scribner, $27 (9781476731902).
Peace was a brilliant kid from a tough neighborhood in Newark, and he spent much of his life struggling to navigate clashing cultures: the urban poverty of his childhood and the Ivy League privilege he worked hard to attain. With an intimate tone, Hobbs paints a full picture of a complicated figure.
The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan. By Jenny Nordberg. Crown, $25 (9780307952493).
Nordberg stunningly uncovers the history and reality of the enduring Afghani custom of the bacha posh, girls who dress and pass as boys. Staggering research and a captivating topic characterize this unique and compelling chronicle.
The Book of Unknown Americans. By Cristina Henríquez. Knopf, $24.95 (9780385350846).
The Riveras leave Mexico so their 15-year-old, brain-damaged daughter, Maribel, can attend a special school in the U.S. Each element is beautifully realized and brimming with feeling in Henríquez’s compassionately imagined and profoundly wrenching story.
Casebook. By Mona Simpson. Knopf, $25.95 (9780385351416).
Simpson’s perceptive novel puts a clever spin on domestic surveillance as teenage Miles begins spying on his mother, Irene, just as fault lines begin to appear in her marriage to his father. Incisive, fine-tuned, and gracefully charming.
Dark Eden. By Chris Beckett. Broadway, paper, $15 (9780804138680).
John Redlantern, 15, has just been exiled from his community on Eden, a planet with a newly burgeoning human population, and now he must survive with three others. With impressive world building and a suspenseful plot, Beckett has created a spellbinding work of literary speculative fiction.
The Disappearance Boy. By Neil Bartlett. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781620407257).
Reggie Rainbow works as a disappearance boy assisting a stage magician in 1953 London. As the act moves from town to town, orphaned Reggie mourns his long-gone parents and comes into his own in this haunting, evocative, and sensitive British import.
The Fever. By Megan Abbott. Little, Brown, $26 (9780316231053).
Abbott makes an unforgettable inquiry into the emotional lives of young people in this disturbing drama surrounding a mysterious epidemic afflicting teenage girls. Rumors and misinformation spin the town into a frenzy while adults try to pin down the source of the puzzling symptoms.
The Girl with All the Gifts. By M. R. Carey. Orbit, $25 (9780316278157).
This well-executed thrill ride of a novel features Melanie, a gifted, thoughtful, and curious child with a genius-level IQ . . . who’s also a zombie. Carey infuses all his characters—even the undead—with feeling and personality in this unique, terrifying tale.
The Heart Does Not Grow Back. By Fred Venturini. Picador, paper, $16 (9781250052216).
Dale Sampson has the superpower ability to regenerate his body, and, mourning a lost love, he moves to Hollywood to star in a reality TV show in which he donates an organ every week. But will it make him happy?
The Magician’s Land. By Lev Grossman. Viking, $27.95 (9780670015672).
Booted from not only Fillory but also his job at Brakebills, Quentin undertakes a new quest, only to discover much deeper secrets at play. Grossman’s conclusion to his beloved series is full of memorable characters and prodigious feats of imagination.
Three Bargains. By Tania Malik. Norton, $25.95 (9780393063400).
Avtaar, a powerful kingpin in 1980s India, takes an interest in the quietly intelligent young Madan and grooms him to take over. But soon Madan runs afoul of Avtaar, and after narrowly escaping his henchmen, Madan must begin anew in New Delhi all on his own. This absorbing, multifaceted bildungsroman is a tribute to the enduring bonds of family, whether by blood or otherwise.
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