You Should Read This: Favorite YA Novels of 2013

Logo for the Andre Norton Award for Excellence.

The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy is an annual award presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) to the author of the best young adult or middle grade science fiction or fantasy book published in the United States in the preceding year.

This year I’ve been reading for the Andre Norton Award, which has been great in that a ton of books have arrived and insane in that a TON of books have arrived and need to be read. I wanted to call out some of my favorites so far.

  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: Vampires, yes. But an interesting twist on them, and a protagonist who drags us along to Coldtown to find its secrets.
  • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell: This is listed as Jan 2014 for the paperback edition, but I believe the e-version was self-published in 2013. It’s a terrific teen superhero adventure, featuring a protagonist trying to figure out if he’s a hero or a villain. IT has a sequel as well, The Trials of Renegade X.
  • Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst: I don’t usually like protagonists who wake up with amnesia, but here Eve and her situation grabbed me and made me care much faster than such narratives usually do. The book managed to surprise me, and did so in a really engaging way.
  • Contanimated by Em Garner: This is a zombie story, so I didn’t expect to like it much. But the zombies are caused by a diet drink, and the challenge is integrating the contaminated into society. When that contaminated is your mother, it’s a whole new issue. The ending is not as satisfying as it could be – things feel a bit too easy — but overall this was a gripping, hard to put down book.
  • Control by Lydia Kang: Plenty of corporate-controlled futures in the YA I read this year, and this was one of the more interesting ones. The ensemble of teen characters are engaging, entertaining, and above all believable.
  • The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy: This features a fairly adult theme, in that the protagonist prostitutes herself to get herself and her brother off planet. But the sex is fairly low-key and not depicted in the thorough way it might be for adults. It’s a good story with a charismatic main character in desperate straits.
  • Twinmaker by Sean Williams: This book is an extended exploration of the implications of matter transporters. It’s a lot of fun, fast-paced, and ingenious.


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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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