Monday, January 2, 2012

Edgy Reads

I was going to do a best-of-the-year post, but when I looked back at the teen books I read in 2011, I realized that most had something in common: they were pretty dark and disturbing. Dark content in YA literature got a lot of press this year, but in the end, it's a personal decision. If you're searching for books that push the envelope and give you that unsettled, is-this-really-okay-to-read feeling, give these a shot!

  • After by Amy Efaw is the raw, unflinching story of the person behind the headlines:  Devon did something terrible, something so bad she can't even quite remember or believe it, even in her cell in juvie, where she has all the time in the world to reflect.
  • Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher isn't what anybody, even the main character, expects. Yeah, in a way it's your typical boy-meets-girl high school romance. But Sage isn't a cis gendered girl, and that really upsets Logan, since he really really likes her. I have to say, Logan behaved badly enough toward Sage that it was hard for me to root for a "happy ending," but it was refreshing to read a realistic story about a transgendered character.
  • The Inferior by Irish author Peadar Ó Guilin is pretty intense. There was a lot of controversy over The Hunger Games, what with the whole dystopia where teenagers kill each other on national TV thing. If that premise doesn't go far enough for you, throw in some cannibalism and aliens and you've got The Inferior.
  • Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott also reads like a lurid headline brought to life. An evil, twisted person kidnapped Alice, and now he's starting to think she's too old for his taste. It's almost unbearably tense to read, but by the end, you understand every decision Alice makes, and why.
  • Finally, no, The DUFF (by 17-year-old author Kody Keplinger) is not a very nice thing to call someone, but hey, it's better than some of the fates above! Our heroine, Bianca, is in a tough situation that leaves her self-esteem pretty much nonexistent, which obviously leads to some troubling dating choices, but Bianca's so funny that, unlike some of the other characters I just mentioned, she makes you root for a happy ending. 

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