Late last year, I read a boatload of new science fiction and fantasy books for teens. A lot of them. Wizards, dystopias, magic, quests - they were coming out my ears, I tell you. These are my top four.
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick - When a powerful electromagnetic pulse kills off two-thirds of the human race and knocks the rest back to the Stone Age, it's every man, woman, and child for himself. 17-year-old Alex was already living on borrowed time, what with the brain tumor and all, so she thought she knew about living life one day at a time. Along with Afghanistan vet Tom and eight-year-old Ellie, she discovers that it's a little more difficult when you have to fight wild animals and teen cannibal zombies for the privilege.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young - You know Katniss Everdeen? She has a soul sister in Saba, the heroine of this gritty, grimy, ferocious novel. When her twin brother is kidnapped, Saba sets off across a wild and dangerous post-apocalyptic landscape to find him. Seriously, this one is perfect for Hunger Games fans. It even has cage fights.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - At birth, Princess Elisa was marked by God, chosen to render a special service to her people. Unfortunately, she grew into a shy, uncoordinated, overweight girl, and it's hard to imagine what she can do for anybody. When she's married off to the king of a war-torn country, she discovers that her great destiny is both more complex and more demanding than she could ever have imagined. If you loved Robin McKinley's classic The Blue Sword, you'll eat this up.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - It's your usual sweet boy-meets-girl story, if the girl were a cursed, murderous ghost and the boy were hunting her. Cas Lowood makes it his mission to destroy destructive paranormal creatures, and he's very good at it, until he meets Anna Dressed in Blood. Beautiful, powerful, sad, and yes, somewhat homicidal, she makes him question everything he believes about ghosts. Horrifying and romantic at the same time, this book is above all memorable.