Jasper Roberts - Blog

Best YA/Teen Books of 2014

Did you read any amazing books last year? I know I did! I am vowing to read more this year, but here are my top five from last year, in no particular order!

Paper Towns by John Green
I love this book, and I don't even really know why. It was just great. It was one of those books that I could read over and over again, and I wouldn't get sick of it. The characters were written so realistically, and the premise is so normal, but also not at the same time. Other people probably think I'm nuts when I rave about it, because it's not like it's a heart pounding thrill ride, but to me it belongs in a "next great American novel" list. It isn't as emotionally manipulative as The Fault in Our Stars, but it still has characters that you enjoy spending time with in their world. It's like The Great Gastby to me. When I read it again, I find something else that I can latch on to and analyze. I think it would be a fantastic novel study. Due to some mature content, definitely high school, and I would say probably 8th grade (get a permission slip if you're unsure). 

Superlative: Most likely to stick with you long after you read it for reasons you don't even know. (Best plot structure.)

The One by Kiera Cass

I've never liked girly books. This book, however, reminded me of Matched by Ally Condie. Strong female character who is also likeable. Did I have issues with this book? Heck, yes! But this was a good thing. When my students would also be reading it, we'd commiserate over who America, the main character, was going to pick. We'd bicker over if Aspen was a good match for her or not. That's great writing if you can get people to debate in real life over who she should choose. I was invested the whole series, and this was a great final chapter! Good for middle school and high school. Great for girls!

Superlative: Most likely to have you dumping your coffee on the ground towards the end. (Best climax.)

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

I love me some Rick Riordan. I can gobble up these books in a sitting or two. This one took me a bit longer, because I wanted to savor it. I haven't seen a female heroine I've liked more since Hermione in Harry Potter. Annabeth is a great character (all the other ones are great, too), and I loved seeing the demigods and their endless battles with monsters and gods and the underworld come to a fever pitch in this one. I'll be missing this series, but it really did leave me feeling satisfied at the end. All ages.

Superlative: Most likely to leave you wanting more, while at the same time wrapping things up really well. (Best denouement.)

Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
Have you put this book in your classroom library yet? Ok- go check- I'll wait. You haven't? Go buy it now. I'm totally a "Golden Age" thinker, and I'm always waxing nostalgic about times gone by, so of course this book appealed to me. She took a 1950's popularity guide and modernized it. What a genius. Oh, yeah, the author? She was a sophomore in high school when she wrote the book. A role model, plus some really good advice for girls, all wrapped up in a really great independent research project that she came up with and wrote about. Great non-fiction for your classroom! All ages.

Superlative: Most likely to change the world, one teenage girl at a time. (Best universal theme.)

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

This book actually changed my teaching. I've always greeted students after I walk in the room, but after a certain scene in the book I started standing right outside my door instead of in the hallway during passing periods, and greeting my students by name. I can't reveal a lot about this book, except that he is planning to kill his best friend and then himself, and he's saying goodbye throughout the novel. It started off a bit like Thirteen Reasons Why, with explanations for why he is going to kill himself and his friend, and then took a crazy turn. There are some mature themes and definitely some mature content. I would recommend high school, maybe 8th grade with a permission slip.

Superlative: Most haunting and empathetic voice while writing. (Best writing.)


  1. I cannot wait to share this with my students at school! Such a great list. I love me some Kiera Cass!!

    Happy Reading!

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