Priscilla Nielsen for NPR
Once known for its problem novels and teen melodrama, young adult fiction has developed into one of the most complex and extensive genres in literature. 2011 brought us a wealth of new reads that continue to twist traditional formulas and take risks that are, by and large, paying off with wholly unique reading experiences. A love story at the heart of a horror novel — why not? Mythical water horses in the modern world — sounds exciting. A theatrical fantasy populated with Shakespearean and fairy tale characters alike — oh, the possibilities! But no matter how varied the young adult genre becomes, today's best teen reads have one thing in common: their emotional depth, believable characters and suspense-filled storylines will keep readers of any age tearing through the pages, as proven by these five exemplary novels.