Last week I revealed my Top Ten Adult Speculative Fiction titles of 2015, and today I’m focusing on young adult books! This was a tough year for me personally, when it came to YA. In fact, I actually struggled a bit to come up with ten books that deserved to be on this list. Yes, I read a bunch that I really enjoyed, but they had to have that “something special” in order to make the cut. I don’t usually read the most popular YA titles, so there are probably some books on this list that you won’t see on other bloggers’ lists. Here they are, in no particular order:
One of my happiest reading surprises this year was Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine (New American Library). I was not expecting to love it so much, which is why it’s in the #1 spot, and for good reason. Just about everyone I know LOVED this book, and I couldn’t be more excited for the story to continue. In my “nitty-gritty” I said: “A thrilling, tension-filled start to a new series that fans of The Hunger Games should not miss.” Read my review here.
One of the most buzzed about books of the year, Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) (Knopf Books for Young Readers) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff was just a good as it looks on the outside. Kaufman and Kristoff combined a thrilling story with some very unusual graphics and the result is a book that engages all the senses. Knowing this is the start to a series, I’m so curious to see where they take things in the next book, called Gemina. My nitty-gritty said: “A mind-blowing presentation of an exciting space adventure, and one of the most unique books I’ve ever read!” Read my review.
Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown by Michael Alan Nelson (Pyr Books) was an unexpected delight, and I loved every minute of it! Urban fantasy has never felt so fresh and exciting before, and if you are a fan of the genre, I highly recommend you add this to your reading list. My nitty-gritty says it all: “An unexpectedly awesome combination of urban fantasy, Buffy-like hijinks and cinematic action scenes, with a dollop of teen angst and emotion thrown in for good measure.” Read my review here.
Shutter by Courtney Alameda (Feiwel and Friends) was one of the first books I reviewed in 2015, and even almost a year later, it still stands out as one of the best. The creepy cover doesn’t really do the story justice, as there is so much more going on than simply a horror story. I’m so excited that she has another book coming out in 2016, because I just know I’ll be first in line to read it. My nitty-gritty for Shutter: “An unexpectedly addictive story, with a multi-genre feel that’s got something for everyone. An amazing page-turner that shouldn’t be missed!” Read my review here.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (HarperTeen) came at just the right moment, near the end of the year when the burden of catching up with review books seemed like it was going to break me. And despite the fact that this was a review book, it cleansed my palate and offered up something so unique that it ended up being one of my favorite YAs of the year. My nitty-gritty stated: “A cleverly constructed story that blends contemporary and fantasy YA fiction in a completely new way.” Read my review.
I’ve been a Chuck Wendig fan for a while, and so when his YA mystery/thriller Atlanta Burns (Skyscape) was released, it was a no-brainer to grab it as soon as I could. I wasn’t expecting it to be so difficult to read, but it was. Difficult in the sense that Chuck took my emotions and wrung them like a wet towel and the threw them in a meat grinder. This book was harsh, but it was also full of wonderful moments. My nitty-gritty said: “A tough read full of unhappy people, but with a glimmer of hope at the end.” Read my review here.
I literally just finished this book last week, and I’m so glad I got the chance, because it made my top ten. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (Greenwillow Books) was riveting, even though you can’t really call this “action packed” by any stretch of the imagination. A group of settlers who decide to journey West to make their fortune during the California Gold Rush band together for a harrowing trip across country, and Carson’s research really sets this apart from other YA books. (My review will be up later this week!)
Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory (Tor Books) was my first Gregory book, but by year’s end I had read three of his books, that’s how much I LOVE him. I’m not sure this is technically classified as “young adult,” but it’s certainly a book that teens who love humorous horror will love. Harrison Squared is an homage to H.P. Lovecraft, and you’ll find Gregory’s town of Dunnsmouth to be quite creepy indeed. My nitty-gritty says: “A hysterically funny Lovecraftian horror story, perfect for both teens and adults.” Read my review here.
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (Thomas Dunne) was so beautifully written, that for me, the story was simply icing on the cake. I was much more invested in reading McLemore’s gorgeous prose. With a subtle magic realism, this dreamy story of circus performers captured my imagination. My nitty-gritty says: “A poignant and magical tale of feuding families and forbidden love, perfectly written.” Read my review here.
OK, maybe it was the only book I read with a talking dog, but nevertheless, Bitter Sixteen by Stefan Mohamed (Salt Publishing) was an excellent example of the genre. This is one superhero story where the superhero in question struggles a bit with his new-found abilities, but luckily he has a talking dog named Daryl who hands out sage advice. My nitty-gritty said: “A unique take on the superhero story with a funny cast of characters and one talking dog.” Read my review here.
I’d love to know if you’ve read any of my top ten!