This was a year where I read predominantly YA books. This is true of the past several years, actually. Because of this, I chose to focus my top 10 on YA books released this year that knocked my socks off. Without further preamble, here they are, in no particular order.
1. Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
Evan Carter has always found one thing to be true for himself: he can have sex, and there’s never any consequences. Because he and his dad move around so much, Evan doesn’t stay in any one place long enough to have to make connections with people. So he uses his strategy: find The Girl Who Would Say Yes, and get down. This is foolproof until it isn’t. Until he picks the wrong girl, and pays dearly for it. After the assault, Evan and his dad pack up and move to a small lakeside town in Minnesota, and it’s there that Evan starts to heal–and deal with the fact that making connections with people is messy but kind of wonderful, too. (read the rest of my review here)
2. Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston
Valkyrie White is fifteen, and the government’s black helicopters killed her parents. This is what Valkyrie believes and has been told since she was a little girl. Now, she and her brother Beau continue the fight her father had waged against the government since they were small. She and Beau know that Those People won’t hesitate to kill them, so they must always be on alert in order to survive. But now, Valkyrie’s mission is to make people wake up and pay attention. It’s her most important mission. It’s also her last. (read the rest of my review here)
3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
In 1986, Park meets Eleanor on the school bus. They are both misfits in their own way, and the two form an unlikely friendship that develops into a first love so profound that neither can totally comprehend it. But with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the two might not be able to stay together, especially when one of them faces an unsafe situation. (read the rest of my review here)
4. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Callie’s mom stole her away from her large Greek-American family when Callie was just a little kid. Since then, they’ve been on the run, and Callie has no sense of what a normal, stable life looks like. She’s never had a home, never been to school, and has eaten most of her meals out of vending machines. But when Callie’s mom finally gets arrested for kidnapping her, she’s sent back to live with her father and his new family. At 17, Callie’s already done a lifetime of living. But can she adjust to the new life–and new rules that come with it? And if she does settle in, does that mean she’s abandoning her mom? (read the rest of my review here)
5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow superfan. She writes fan fiction about the popular magic books, and she has a massive online following. For so long it was Cath and Wren, her identical twin sister, against the world. That world meant mostly living in the fictional world of Simon Snow. But now the girls are off to college, and Wren seems more than happy to sever ties to the fan fiction world and, it seems, to Cath. So Cath starts off her freshman year, feeling every bit alone. But she makes connections along the way, despite her best efforts not to. How much is Cath willing to sacrifice of her Simon Snow world in order to live in her real one? And should she have to? (read the rest of my review here)
6. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Josie Moraine is living in New Orlean’s French Quarter in 1950. The daughter of a prostitute, Josie is bright, motivated, but marked by her mother’s profession. All Josie wants is to get out of the seedy world of New Orleans, but obstacles keep getting in her way. When a mysterious death in the Quarter, Josie gets caught in the investigation. Before the mystery is solved, Josie’s trust will be broken and she’ll find herself caught in a moral dilemma. (read the rest of my review here)
7. Absent by Katie Williams
Paige is seventeen, and she’s dead. She died in a freak fall from the roof of her high school during a Physics class, and now she’s stuck within the boundaries of her high school. She’s not alone, though: two other ghosts, both former students, are also trapped there. Evan and Brooke are the only people she can talk to and interact with until she discovers that she can possess living people when they think of her. This comes in handy when she hears the rumor that she jumped on purpose. It becomes Paige’s mission to change the minds of the living–because there’s no way she’d jump on purpose. (read the rest of my review here)
8. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Mila is very good at reading a room and seeing the hiddenf acts and unspoken thoughts of the people who live in it that others are so quick to overlood. When her father’s best friend goes missing, Mila travels with him to America to investigate his disappearance. Slowly, she pieces together the life this man lead from the pieces he left behind. As she closes in on solving the mystery, she starts to question the man she trusts most in the world–her father. (review to come)
9. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Piddy Sanchez is minding her own business when a girl at school tells her that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who that is, but Yaqui knows who she is–or at least she thinks she does. According to Yaqui, Piddy isn’t Latin enough with her good grades and light skin, and she’s going to pay for it. As Yaqui’s bullying mounts, Piddy doesn’t know where to turn. Is there any way she can escape this torment relatively unscathed? (review coming soon)
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away?
10. Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
It used to be Anna and her mom against the world. But then her mom started dating, and soon Anna had a series of stepfathers and an increasingly distant mother. When Anna discovered boys, she found that there were new ways to fill the emptiness inside her. Boys can be her new family, and that’s what Anna tries to make happen with Desmond, and Joey, and Todd. But Anna is always left alone, with only her friend Toy to comfort her. It isn’t until she meets Sam and is accepted into his family that she begins to understand what real love is–and what’s at stake if she were to lose it. (read the rest of my review here)
This was a surprisingly easy list to craft. What were your best reads of the year?