Writing this post is always something I both look forward to doing, and dread at the same time. I love having the opportunity to look back at all the books I’ve read over the course of the year, organizing my thoughts, and picking my favorites. Some years though are harder than others because my choices are so vast. This is one of those years. This has been an exceptional year for YA literature.
There were some truly unique books that came out this year. And there are still so many more books I haven’t gotten to yet. I read less books this year too. Normally, my goal is for 100 books, but I decided to go easy on myself this year and I changed my goal to 80. Of course, I’ve read 85 now, and will probably have completed close to 90 by the end, but still…you’d think a smaller pool to choose from woul make my decision process easier. It didn’t. There were just so many wonderful books this year.
For a chance to win some of my favorite books of the year, come back next week for my End of the Year Giveaway Part 2.
My rules for this list is how they have always been:
1) Each book listed has come out this past year.
2) Each book is YA or Middle Grade
3) I have read the book in 2015.
2) Each book is YA or Middle Grade
3) I have read the book in 2015.
I am going to start at the top with number 1, and make my way down to my number 10 book of the year. And of course, there will also be honorable mentions after that. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! May 2016 bring just as many, if not more wonderful books into the world.
1) Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (Review / Rating: 10/10)
In my review, I agreed that this was like reading a mixture of Harry Potter, The Book Thief, and Fahrenheit 451. I’m not sure higher praise can be given. Seriously, this book has so little hype, and I’m not sure why. It shocked me, grabbed me, and has yet to let me go. I cannot recommend this one any more than I possibly already do. Reading it reminded me of the reason I do what I do and the impact books can have on their readers.
2) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This is not just one of my favorite books of the year; this is one of my favorite books ever. The book is the fan fiction written by the main character of another book (that happened to be my number one book of 2013). It read like Harry Potter fan fiction. This wondrous book was part fan fiction, part satire, part awesome fantasy in its own right, part coming of age story, part love story, and part magic. My love for this book and this author is never-endless. More books like this need to exist. Go read this one (but read Fangirl first).
3) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This may be the first graphic novel to brace my Best Lists (and it won’t be the last). This is one of those books that reminded me how great graphic novels can be. The story is funny, smart, and action-packed. The characters are just ridiculously hilarious. I’ve already given 3 copies of this book out as presents. And I may end up getting another copy for another friend. Everyone needs to read this.
4) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This is by far the best writing I have seen all year. Libba Bray is a master. She derserves a crown and a tv show, and possibly a nomination for president. Seriously, her words are so beautiful. All the elements of this story woven with what happened in book 1, lead for quite a remarkable tale. Add that to an amazingly written setting and some extremely developed and loved characters, and you will only have an inkling of how good this is.I wish I had a fraction of this author’s skill.
5) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This was a unique book. As I said in my review, it had so many good things going for it: “the format, the characters, the love story, a zombie level plague (they kind of spell it out in the summary so I don’t feel like I’m spoiling), bossy AI, computer hacking, genocide, space ships, insane plot twists, and plenty of witty commentary.” This book moves at the speed of light. There is no straight narrative either. It’s told in emails, Instant Messages, illegal documents, and security footage. I can’t even begin to describe all the different ways this story is told. It moves fast, and really it just has everything you’d want from a good YA book.
6) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Review / Rating: 10/10)
Ah, the world building in this book! This was just another beautiful gem of a story. I’m so glad I decided to read this one. The stories and the language in here are just poetic. Also, the plot twists, the action, and the overarching darkness make this such an amazing read. Oh, and the romance! The romance literally took my breath away. I may be more excited for this book’s sequel than I am any other book on this list.
7) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Review / Rating: 10/10)
These books are like coffee for me. I need them to remain human and to be able to function normally in society. Seriously, I need Maas’s books. They are my comfort food. And they keep getting better and better. This was my favorite book in the series so far. The main character is one of the coolest, toughest, strongest, kick butt main characters of all time. I love Celaena. Along with the politics, the magic, the assassins, the power struggles, the romance, and the revenge, Celaena makes this one of the best YA fantasy books out there, period.
8) Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (Review / Rating: 10/10)
Strangely, this is the first contemporary to make it to my list this year. Some years are all about the contemporaries and some seem to be all about the fantasy. This was definitely a more fantasy driven year for me. That being said, the reason I really loved this particular book was how real it all felt. Everything that goes down felt like legitimate problems that could occur. The characters felt real too. I loved the emphasis on friendship, and while some tough topics are covered in this book, there’s this overall lightness and sense of fun that brings it all back to focus. Stead is another fantastic writer, with strong emphasis on character. And this book was above and beyond what I have even come to expect form her.
9) Hold Me Closer by David Levithan (Review / Rating: 10/10)
I have nothing but love for this one. The book reads like a play. Technically, it’s a musical. It’s written by my favorite side character from another book (Will Grayson, Will Grayson). I guess it’s also the year for books written by fictional characters. As I said in my review, “I was expecting over the top humor. I was expecting fantastic songs. I was expecting to laugh. And I did. I got all these things. What I was not expecting was to feel so much in this book, and I had all the feels. I laughed out loud one moment, I sang along another, and then there were moments when I had tears in my eyes. And I loved every mixed bag of emotions moment of this book.”
10) Beastly Bones by William Ritter (Review / Rating: 10/10)
I thought it couldn’t get any better than Jackaby, but I was wrong. I liked this sequel even more than the original. This one did involve stolen dinosaur bones, feuding scientists, plenty more magical creatures, top notch witty banter between Ms. Rook and Jackaby, a very curious mystery, and some superb writing. It’s a supernatural Sherlock Holmes type retelling and it’s amazing. I’ve recommended these books over and over again, always to the upmost success.
Honorable Mention 1) Ms. Marvel, Volume 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson (Review / Rating: 10/10)
As I said in my review, “These are the comic books I’ve come to compare all others too. Though, nothing is quite as good. I’ve picked up the occasional comic book or graphic novel in the past, but seriously reading these has made me want to read so many more. I have been reading more. I guess before I was never fully able to see myself in comic book characters. And while, on the superficial side of things I’m nothing like Kamala, I related to her on so many metaphorical layers.” Seriously, these books are so amazing, and this last one had dystopian/end of the world plotlines and well, I’m not sure it can get any better.
Honorable Mention 2) The Marvels by Brian Selznick (Review / Rating: 10/10)
I am a huge Brian Selznick fan. What this author accomplishes both in words and in pictures is just so powerful. This book did not disappoint. Half is told in illustration. The other half is in words. Part of the fun of reading it was needing to connect the two different stories. Reading it felt a bit like fitting clues together and solving a mystery myself. And what a fabulous feeling that was. There were so many layers to this story, and I remember being awed by each clue I connected.
Honorable Mention 3) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (Review / Rating: 10/10)
Sarah Dessen is the queen of YA contemporaries. Seriously, she has become the author (maybe along with Rowell now) whom I compare all other YA contemporaries. I have a soft spot for her because I read her books all through high school, in my actual young adult years. And I find myself connecting just as strongly now as I did then to her fantastic characters. Her characters in this book were so authentic and believable. Some of the topics covered in this one were a little intense, more so than I have come to expect from most Dessen novels. And this actually made me read the book so much faster. I remember zooming through it, needing to know what would happen with a particular character.