YA for Snobs: July 26

We know it can be hard to find a really great book, so we’re helping you picky readers decide what to read next. These new YA titles come with ringing endorsements from some highbrow publications like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, which mostly review books for adults. Take a look at these highly recommended titles, and happy reading!

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Delilah loves to read, and she especially loves Prince Oliver, the protagonist of her favorite fairy tale. But when Oliver starts talking directly to Delilah, she realizes that he’s more than just a character. He’s a teenager like her, and he hates being trapped in the routine of his novel. Can they work together to get Oliver out of the book and into the real world?

Reviewed by the Christian Science Monitor“The characters flirt with the philosophical questions one would expect from those who spend time with books for a living: Is the author God? Do the books write themselves, or does the author write the books? Who owns the story—writer or reader? Not all of these brain-teasers are satisfactorily resolved, but the Picoults ensure that girls who love fairy tales and boys who love war games are equally united in their happily-ever-after twist.”

Small Damages by Beth Kephart 
When Kenzie finds herself unexpectedly pregnant during her senior year, her mother sends her to Spain. The idea is that Kenzie will give birth there and a Spanish couple will adopt the baby—nobody from home even needs to know she’s pregnant. At first Kenzie hates it there, but as she adjusts to life in Spain, she starts to see the world differently. Now she has some serious choices to make about the future.

Reviewed by The New York Times“[Kenzie’s] percolating story emerges through Kephart’s lilting prose in that same hazy way you’d meander through the narrow white streets of Seville in the noontime sun or confront the hot, dry winds, redolent of foreign smells and flavors, on a ranch in the Spanish countryside. The reader is lost and found and lost and found again.”

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough 
Sixteen-year-old Heidi Devine knows it’s unusual to have an imaginary friend, but she’s always heard a witty male voice in the back of her mind. What she doesn’t realize is that the voice actually belongs to her friendly but reluctant guardian angel, Jerome Hancock. When he makes one mistake too many, their worlds collide, and Heidi is on the verge of losing her soul forever.

Reviewed by the Chicago Tribune“Brockenbrough’s spot-on dialogue and hilarious, lovingly crafted prose elevate the book from what could have been a long, clever joke to what is an endearing look at two lost souls who find, to both of their surprise, a purpose.”

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
An updated version of Cinderella tells the story of Cinder, a talented mechanic living in New Beijing. Her stepmother hates her, and society looks down on her because she’s a cyborg. When she meets the handsome Prince Kai, their destinies become inextricably bound. Suddenly, the Prince’s life, along with the fate of Earth itself, lies in Cinder’s hands.

Reviewed by the Los Angeles Review of Books: “[Cinder is] tough, self-reliant, and resourceful. And she’s only beginning to discover her extraordinary talents.”

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne 
It’s 2024 and horrible natural disasters are starting to occur. Fourteen kids, ranging from young children to high schoolers, take refuge inside a grocery store. Full of food and supplies, the store is a great place for them to wait out everything from terrible storms to chemical weapons spills. But as more and more of the outside world is contaminated, they start to wonder whether they’ll ever be able to leave.

Reviewed by the The New York Times“Laybourne’s strong characterizations of the resourceful, optimistic children who make up this improvised family intensify the horror of the situation and make the almost cartoonish series of catastrophes frighteningly real.”

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
When a biological bomb is released in a mall, all the shoppers are quarantined inside. Among the trapped are Marco, Lexi, Ryan, and Shay, four teenagers from completely separate backgrounds and social circles. As everything descends into pandemonium around them, they must put aside their differences in order to escape.

Reviewed by the The New York Times“[Lorentz’s] detailed depiction of the escalating chaos over the course of seven long days is deeply unsettling.”

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn 
Violet thinks spending the summer in Seattle with her father is going to be boring. But when her father’s clients are robbed of some priceless Van Gogh sketches, Violet and her father set off for Japan on a mission to recover the artwork. When all the adults are stumped, will 16-year-old Violet be able to save the day?

Reviewed by The A.V. ClubTokyo Heist is refreshingly free of most of the standard modern YA-fiction tropes. Violet is a plain, nerdy girl who isn’t secretly gorgeous or “chosen” for her important task.”

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