I’ve been thinking a lot about titles lately. I’ve got a couple things specifically I’ve been pondering, and I just did a display at my workplace called “Boys and Girls of Teen Fiction,” pulling together a pile of books that feature either the word “Boy” or “Girl” in the title. As I was scanning the shelves for it, and as I perused the books coming out in 2013, I saw an interesting trend: numbers in the title. Not spelled out, but actual numerals in the title as part of the title. Sometimes they’re ages and sometimes they represent bigger points in the plot. Whatever their purpose, it’s a title trend worth noting, especially because this is one that continues to become more common (at least it’s catching my attention a lot more).
I looked through the books published between 2010 and today using Goodreads compiled lists, and it wasn’t until 2012 this trend really took hold — in fact, it appears there were only two numeral-bearing titles in 2011 (Human.4 and Are u 4 Real?). Four appeared in 2010 (13 to Life, 7 Souls, Sweet 15, and The Absolute Value of -1), though that’s still much fewer than those recently released.
This trend continues strong in 2013.
Here’s a slice of titles with numbers in them, with the caveat these aren’t ordinal numbers (so, no Fifth Wave, for example). If you can think of others published recently, drop them in the comments. I’ve stuck to traditionally published titles. All descriptions come from Goodreads.
Human .4 by Mike A. Lancaster: Twenty-first century fourteen-year-old Kyle was hypnotized when humanity was upgraded to 1.0 and he, incompatible with the new technology, exposes its terrifying impact in a tape-recording found by the superhumans of the future.
13 to Life by Shannon Delany: Jessica Gillmansen, a high school junior, is hiding information about her mother’s death when she meets Pietr Rusakova, a new student with a family secret of his own, and the two bond as she investigates local news stories about werewolves and the Russian mafia.
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma (March 2013): Seventeen-year-old Lauren has visions of girls her own age who are gone without a trace, but while she tries to understand why they are speaking to her and whether she is next, Lauren has a brush with death and a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad: Three teenagers are going on the trip of a lifetime. Only one is coming back. It’s been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2-a place that no one but top government officials even knew existed until now. The three winners, Antoine, Midori, and Mia, come from all over the world. But just before the scheduled launch, the teenagers each experience strange, inexplicable events. Little do they know that there was a reason NASA never sent anyone back there until now-a sinister reason. But the countdown has already begun…
7 Souls by Barnabus Miller and Jordan Orlando: Inexplicable things have been happening to Manhattan socialite Mary since she awoke on her seventeenth birthday, and by the end of the day she has been killed, inhabited the bodies of seven people close to her, and faced some ugly truths about herself.
7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker: Ridiculed at school after a humiliating photograph of her goes viral, Blythe teams up with Luke to win the Senior Scramble scavenger hunt and salvage her reputation, a partnership that blossoms into romance until their madcap antics spiral out of control.
52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody: On her eighteenth birthday, spoiled party girl Lexington Larrabee learns that her days of making tabloid headlines may be at an end when her ever-absent father decides she must learn some values by working a different, low-wage job every week for a year or forfeit her multimillion-dollar trust fund.
45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson (2013): When Ann decides that she is going to lose 45 pounds in time for her aunt’s wedding, she discovers that what she looks like is not all that matters.
The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway (2013): Adam Strand isn’t depressed. He’s just bored. Disaffected. So he kills himself—39 times. No matter the method, Adam can’t seem to stay dead; he wakes after each suicide alive and physically unharmed, more determined to succeed and undeterred by others’ concerns. But when his self-contained, self-absorbed path is diverted, Adam is struck by the reality that life is an ever-expanding web of impact and forged connections, and that nothing—not even death—can sever those bonds.
34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues: After Ellie dies of a drug overdose, her brother, her best friend, and her best friend’s sister face painful secrets of their own when they try to uncover the truth about Ellie’s death.
The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff: Three teenagers relate their experiences as they try to cope with problems in school and at home by smoking, drinking, using drugs, and running track.
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (2013): Sixteen-year-old Mila discovers she is not who–or what–she thought she was, which causes her to run from both the CIA and a rogue intelligence group.
Are u 4 Real? by Sara Kadefors: After meeting “online” in an Internet chat room and helping each other deal with family problems, Kyla and Alex, two very different sixteen year olds, decide to meet in person.
Period 8 by Chris Crutcher (2013): Period 8 has always been a safe haven and high school senior Paulie “The Bomb” Baum a constant attendee, but as Paulie, Hannah, their friends, and a sympathetic teacher try to unravel the mystery of a missing classmate, the ultimate bully takes aim at the school.
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons: Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller has perfected the art of keeping a low profile in a future society in which Moral Statutes have replaced the Bill of Rights and offenses carry stiff penalties, but when Chase, the only boy she has ever loved, arrests her rebellious mother, Ember must take action.
Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley (2013): Sixteen-year-old Angie finds herself in her neighborhood with no recollection of her abduction or the three years that have passed since, until alternate personalities start telling her their stories through letters and recordings.
Boy21 by Matthew Quick: Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school’s varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob, and when his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common in spite of their apparent differences.
Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum (2013): Twenty years after robots designed to fight wars abandoned the battlefields and turned their weapons against humans, siblings Nick, Kevin, and Cass must risk everything when the wilderness community where they have spent their lives in hiding is discovered by the bots.
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans (2013): Seventeen-year-old Felicia Ward is dead and spending her time in the hive reliving her happy memories–but when Julian, a dark memory from her past, breaks into the hive and demands that she come with him, she discovers that even the afterlife is more complicated and dangerous then she dreamed.
Sweet 15 by Emily Adler and Alex Echevarria: Shortly before her fifteenth birthday, Destiny Lozada’s traditional Puerto Rican mother and feminist older sister hijack her quinceañera, each pushing her own agenda and ignoring the possibility that Destiny, a skateboarding tomboy, might have her own ideas about the coming-of-age ritual she is about to participate in.
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne: Trapped inside a chain superstore by an apocalyptic sequence of natural and human disasters, six high school kids from various popular and unpopular social groups struggle for survival while protecting a group of younger children.
3:59 by Gretchen McNeil (no cover, 2013 release): There’s not a WorldCat description, but you can see the lengthy one over at Goodreads.
Bonus! I’m including a pile of titles that have numbers in their title but where the number is spelled out. I’m not adding the descriptions but rather offering it up as a gallery. Some of these are available now and some will become available throughout the year.
You see what I did there at the end, right?
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).