7 of the best young adult novels of 2011

Here are seven of my favorite young adult novels of 2011.

2. 'Where Things Come Back,' by John Corey Whaley

"Being seventeen and bored in a small town, I like to pretend sometimes that I am a pessimist," says Cullen Whitter, "only I can't seem to keep that up for too long before my natural urge to idealize goes into effect." The targets of his idealism include his brother, Gabriel (who reads books and knows about bands no one else has ever heard of), his best friend, Lucas (defender of the weak), and Ada Taylor ("a beautiful girl with a big, burly boyfriend who would just as soon kick my ass as look at me"). But then his town is besieged by adventurers looking for a woodpecker once thought extinct, nicknamed Lazarus, and Gabriel simply disappears. Cullen dreams of zombie wars and makes up titles for unwritten novels, while a parallel narrative about a failed African missionary and his depressed roommate only seems tangential, until the two intersect in surprising – and depending on one's perspective – either dark or lovely ways.

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