2009 exploded with new offerings for Teens and Young Adults, and I'm just thinking about those with a Christian worldview. No doubt this list has missed a great many that came out in 2009, but these are the ones I know about and feel confident in recommending. It was an especially good year for speculative fiction--science fiction, fantasy and thrillers--but also chock full of the girly chic lit. A lot of other genres are represented as well. I am sure I will miss some of the more romantic titles, but then I don't follow those as closely as others do. If you want to add your favorites in the comments, please do.
There is no way I can do justice to all the titles on the list, but I give links to websites (click on author's name) and a place where you can buy online (click on book title). And if I wrote a review on the book, I'll give a link to that as well. Most of these you can get through Borders or other bookstores; several are available at Christian bookstores.
Let's start with the speculative, which will appeal to the guys and many of the girls:
By Darkness Hid, Jill Williamson . (See my blog). In this fantasy novel, young Achan Cham dreams of serving in the Kingsguard Knights, but he is a stray--worse than a slave--and such aspirations are out of his reach. Worse, Achan is beginning to hear strange voices in his head, and wondering why his masters force him to drink a tonic every day, though he is not sick.
Half the land of Er'Rets is permanently shrouded in Darkness. Forces on both sides of the Evenwall want Vrell and Achan, and their powerful gifts.
This is a terrific fantasy adventure with romance, betrayal, cruelty, and unexpected hope. Because above all the other voices in Achan's head, he hears a new one calling him to faith.
The League of Superheroes, Stephen L. Rice (also has a blog and a wiki page. I have blogs here, here and here). World need saving? This looks like a job for . . .Geeks? Yeah, geeks. I mean, who else is going to figure out how to use a super suit? Not some jock! I'm Tom Reilly (Darklight), a language geek; Rod Davies (Titan) is the math and physics genius, the smartest guy in high school; Allen (Tachyon) is our hacker; and Charlie (Micromegas) is our doctor wannabe. Then there's Clarice, Allen's little sister. You know how kids are. And Genie, of course—the self-described little girl we know only from chat rooms. She's the smartest person in history—and probably the most endangered.We've got to save her and the world. I hope we don't get grounded.
Forever Richard, Sue Dent. (Second book in the Thirsting for Blood Series. Book one was Never Ceese) (Other information here. My blogs are here, here, here and here) He's ba-a-ack. Our favorite redeemed vampire and his sister Ceese, who used to be a werewolf, and who is still tormented by the one who cursed her. Twilight fans like this series, but the comparisons aren't that close. There is romance blooming, but so much more going on. Guys like it, too.
The saga of redemption and spiritual triumph readers enjoyed in Never Ceese continues in Forever Richard...Cassie Felts, graduate student and reluctant believer of such things as vampires and werewolves, couldn’t be happier for Richard and Ceese Porter. Their curses lifted and after hundreds of years apart, they can now celebrate being brother and sister once more. Even Rodney, Cassie’s college roommate and former nemesis, shares her relief. But will the faith that saved Richard and Ceese be enough to defeat the new evil that threatens them all?
Reviewed by Novel Teen Book Reviews (Oregon), October 14, 2009
This story starts out where the first book left off: in Peet the Sock Man’s tree house. Janner, Tink, Leeli, Podo, and Nia are about to set off for the Ice Prairies, but they don’t get going soon enough and end up on the run from the Fangs of Dang. It’s a long, long journey to the Ice Prairies, and the Igby children are waylaid by some pretty horrifying setbacks. Will all in their party survive the trip? Will they get caught before they make it? Oh, I likes me this book a way bunch! It makes me wanna talk like Podo, which I probably don’t do as well as the old coot, but still I give it me best shot. I liked this one better than the first, which is such a great thing. The characters were even better this time. I love the parallels with Janner and Peet. Two Throne Wardens struggling to do what they must even when it is nearly impossible. Andrew Peterson’s style is funny and clever while telling a dangerous tale of woe. That’s what makes his writing so unique. He’s a wonderful writer and storyteller. I highly recommend this series. I cannot wait for book three. And I love the illustrations in the book. The Snickbuzzard with the belly button, especially.
Dreamhouse Kings series (House of Dark Shadows, Watcher in the Woods, and Gatekeepers), Robert Liparulo. Kind of creepy; supernatural thrillers. My blogs are here and here. It will be easier to follow the story if you read them in order; it is possible, however, to get into the tale without reading all of them. I missed the first one and still got creeped out ( in a good way). It did make me put the first book on my wish list.
"If you like creepy and mysterious, this is the house for you! Every room opens a door to magic, true horror, and amazing surprises. I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?" --R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)
Thirteen-year-old Jazmin, her ex-Special Ops uncle Charlie, and former FBI agent Lisa are reunited in the second of the Voice of God series to stop an assassin driven to murder members of a megachurch led by Lisa's brother. This assassin has drawn in a coven of teens toying with satanic practices to support his efforts. The naive youth engage in ceremonies that appear to usher in the death of each of his victims. When their rituals open a portal into the spiritual realm, a terrifying and mysterious entity crosses over to our world. ...
Angel of Wrath, Bill Myers. My blog is here. Mainly older teens and adults. Supernatural thriller, high on the creepy scale. I wanted to rush through it to find out what the monster thing really was and to discover the truth about the cult leader/murderer.
On the Run, also by Bill Myers. (My blog with excerpt here) This one could easily be enjoyed by middle school age and up. Still very much into the supernatural. (Note: Bill Myers is a prolific writer with many titles for all ages. If you go to his website, you'll see much more)
Zach and Piper aren't the only ones to notice their little brother's supernatural gifts. Something evil is also paying attention. Now the kids must learn to draw strength from heaven while being pursued by the powers of darkness. The only thing more bizarre than the miracles Zach and Piper's six-year-old brother; Elijah, performed is the strange note from their parents. So begins a wild chase across the country as the two attempts to find their father and mother and protect their brother. Unfortunately, trying to look "normal" isn't easy for three kids on the run in a borrowed motor home. And Elijah's habit of performing miracles doesn't help! Will aid from a mysterious stranger be enough to assist in their escape from the evil pursuing them?
The Shadowside Trilogy ( Trion Rising, The Owling and Beyond Corista), Robert Elmer. I have blogs for Trion Rising and Beyond Corista. Only Beyond Corista was released in 2009, but this is another series where the stories are quite connected. On the planet Corista, Brightside residents enjoy sunlight while the Shadowside endures gloomy despair. When Corista is thrown off its axis, global chaos erupts---and the Shadowside inhabitants are blamed. It will take a special young woman to expose the truth and avert the war that's sure to come! Ages 12 and up.
Time Thriller series (Ripple Effect, Out of Time, Memory's Gate), Paul McCusker. Weird travel from one world to another, and time runs at differing rates; there are fatalities and lots of danger. Excerpts on my blog for Ripple Effect and Memory's Gate.
The Time Thriller Trilogy delivers gripping, fast-paced mystery that intrigues and captivates through hours, seconds, and centuries. A long history of strange disappearances and unexplainable occurrences leave clues that the town of Fawlt Line may actually sit on a time fault—a portal to alternate times and unexpected time travels—a twist of fate that puts all of Fawlt Line’s citizens in serious danger. Will they find the faith to hold on to the town and time where they belong? Can truth prevail? Elizabeth thought volunteering at the Fawlt Line Retirement Center would be fun, but she quickly has second thoughts. While most of the residents are wonderful, there’s something about the place—and a strangely familiar man in a wheelchair—that gives her the creeps. When people start disappearing from the center, leaving behind cryptic notes, Elizabeth is convinced the time fault is involved. Her own time-travel adventure may be the key to solving the mystery, but can she convince the sheriff she’s telling the truth before more people disappear?
Echoes from the Edge series (Beyond the Reflection's Edge, Eternity's Edge, Nightmare's Edge), Bryan Davis. I have a blog for Beyond the Reflection's Edge. A newer series by the author of Dragons in Our Midst. No dragons, but there's a horribly creepy guy who kills people and eats their eyeballs. Alternate universes.
His fast-paced adventure fantasy trilogy starts with murder and leads teenagers Nathan and Kelly out of their once-familiar world as they struggle to find answers to the tragedy. A mysterious mirror with phantom images, a camera that takes pictures of things they can't see, and a violin that unlocks unrecognizable voices … each enigma takes the teens further into an alternate universe where nothing is as it seems.
Find out what happens when good battles evil in an alternate universe.
Vanishing Sculptor, Donita K. Paul( she also has a blog). The creator of The Dragonkeeper series has written another tale about the world of Amara. I haven't read it yet, but I imagine her young fans will not be disappointed. Age is around 11-16 (target, but many of us adults like her work as well).
Meet Tipper, a young emerlindian who's responsible for the upkeep of her family's estate during her sculptor father's absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions-including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon-and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder. Through Tipper's breathtaking story, readers will discover the beauty of knowing and serving God.
Ryann Waters and the Shield of Faith, Eric Reinhold. This is the second book in Eric's Annals of Aeliana series. Currently there s a pre-Christmas sale with a great price break if you buy both books. Only from the publisher. This series is recommended for younger teens or those who like a fast read.
In small-town Mount Dora, Florida, a nighttime visit from the archangel Gabriel sends 12-year-old Ryann Watters on a supernatural mission to find a royal sword. That same night, a fallen angel sends his troubled classmate, Drake Dunfellow, on an opposite quest---to stop him. Both boys are given powerful angelic gifts, but which one will prevail?
Matterhorn the Brave series, Mike Hamel. These tales are about Matthew Horn. He's a brave knight, ...when he isn’t busy being a twelve-year-old boy. Few people have heard of him, which isn’t surprising, for most of his adventures happen in other times and places. He and his friends have been around the globe and off it. Gone under the earth and over the moon. Not bad for kids who don’t even have driver’s licenses. Matterhorn the Brave™ features four adolescents who are recruited by the Praetorians of First Realm—a mirror world of Earth—to keep an eye on the portals that connect all space and time. When heretics murder the king of First Realm, his daughter, Queen Bea, enlists the kids’ help to recover some of the Ten Talis that have been hidden on Earth. The Talis are tangible symbols of the Maker’s power. The heretics need these sacred objects for their scheme to conquer Earth.
The publisher, AMG, pulled the plug on the series this past year with two of the eight books ready to go into publication. So the author decided to sell those two as e-books. He is also selling the first six books at 30 percent off right now. I read the first book, The Sword and the Flute. Delightful. To be honest, I'm going to push this series a bit because the author has been fighting a long and frustrating battle with cancer. It's in his blog. He needs all the support--financial and prayer--he can get. Besides, the books are highly entertaining.
The Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. The cover is sufficiently creepy-looking to catch guys' interest. Reading level ages 9-12.
The Seven succeeding Elven Lords of Allyra were dead, lost in the Siege of Berinfell as babes. At least that's what everyone thought until tremors from a distant world known as Earth, revealed strange signs that Elven blood lived among its peoples. With a glimmer of hope in their hearts, sentinels are sent to see if the signs are true. But theirs is not a lone errand. The ruling warlord of Allyra, the Spider King, has sent his own scouts to hunt down the Seven and finish the job they failed to complete many ages ago.
Now 13-year-olds on the brink of the Age of Reckoning when their Elven gifts will be manifest, discover the unthinkable truth that their adoptive families are not their only kin. With mysterious Sentinels revealing breathtaking secrets of the past, and dark strangers haunting their every move, will the young Elf Lords find the way back to the home of their birth? Worlds and races collide as the forces of good and evil battle. Will anyone escape the Curse of the Spider King?
Learn more about The Berinfell Prophecies at http://www.heedtheprophecies.wordpress.com/. Create your own tribe.
Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court, Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart, by Chuck Black. Both published 2009. The second and third books in The Knights of Arrethtrae series. Ages 9-12.
The Knights of Arrethtrae is a medieval action/adventure series allegory. Building upon the Kingdom of Arrethtrae as created in The Kingdom Series books, these stories fit within the time of the waiting years, between books 3 and 5. This is analogous to the Church Age or the Time of the Gentiles. This is not a chronological series like the Kingdom Series, for each book stands alone and tells of the adventures of individual knights during this time period. The Knights of the Prince are recruiting and training all who will follow the Prince as they wait for His return. During these years, brave knights rise up and take the story of the Prince deep into the heart of the kingdom and to the far reaches of the land. They encounter great adversity and peril as they fight against many strongholds established by the Dark Knight as well as those influenced by his power. Each title allegorically teaches a biblical principle such as loyalty, compassion, courage, humility, and faith while warning against the tools of the devil such as rebellion, greed, doubt, and apathy.
That's enough for today. And these were just the speculative titles! Tomorrow I will continue with books in other genres, even a western. I do hope parents and teens alike will look into these websites and buy some of the books. Nearly all of them are marked down for pre-Christmas sales. You will be sure to find many treasures here.