Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My List of Top Ten YA Books of 2015

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It's been a great year for YA books!  This year, I accomplished my goal of reading 50 books in different formats (I'm really enjoying the wonder of e-books) and among that list is the cream of the crop titles I absolutely got lost in.  These titles are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, graphic novel and short stories and everything in between.  These aren't in any particular rank or order (other than alphabetical), as all of these books were absolutely amazing!  There are more than ten I could absolutely put on this list, but I took my time and really thought about the titles I chose and why.  So walk with me through my top 10 best of the best book for teens....

1. All The Rage by Courtney Summers
What struck me about this book is the powerful theme it contains.  Romy, the main character, faces the most intense hardships of high school - bullying, isolation, and being taken advantage of against her will.  These take Romy to the brink of a breakdown but her strength, family and the few she can trust help her not only deal with what she went through, but also makes her realize her own self-worth.





2. All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder
When I can read in a book in one setting, I know it's a book that should be on this list.  Emerson knows she has less than 48 hours to live - not due to illness, but to a meteor bearing down on the U.S. This novel shows how not only what happens to her, but others who decide to live the rest of their lives by fulfilling lifelong dreams, falling in love, and granting forgiveness.  What grabbed me are the different threads of lives Schroeder writes about that begin to interweave in unusual ways leading to a beautiful ending.




3. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
This is one of those books that people either loved or not and that's why it made my list.  Brooks' novel evokes powerful emotions from readers and what ultimately happens to the group of people who are victims of circumstance in this superbly suspenseful book.  Another reason why I put this book on the list is that the ending is so climactic and unexpected, most of the teens I know who've read it can't wrap their minds around the ending of it all.





4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Fantasy fiction has become (or still is) a popular genre, and while so many I've read recently take place in another time and world, this book doesn't. Rowell writes an urban fantasy with quirky characters and villains in today's world where wizards co-exists with Normals.  VERY reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, Rowell brings back the magical fun the characters and the school creates that makes it such a refreshing read.  It's all about relationships first, conflict second and the ability to combine lighthearted reading with some dark places the readers get to explore.



5. Drowned City by Don Brown
Brown brings back into the spotlight the horrors, mistakes and redemptive circumstances that created the disaster of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  This book tells the story not only through words but the powerful images depicted on the pages, allowing those to not only read it, but truly look at what happened and allow it to resonate in them.  This is one of the best graphic novels I've read not only because it brings an important event up in teens lives, but also because although it's a quick read, it stays there long after the last page is turned.

6. Hitler's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly
There are a few titles from O'Reilly's Killing series that have been adapted for young adults, and when there is, they become an important part of a YA collection because of the hidden history behind the event and person.  This is about Hitler, but also about World War II and how his decisions led to the ultimate downfall of one of the most evil people in history.  O'Reilly writes without any political motive, which makes this a book for all readers.  You may not like the author, but try not to transfer bias to a great YA non-fiction book.

7. Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler
Follow five teens as they enter high school and begin their four year tour. Any teen will be able to find a character to identify with, whether it be the most popular girl in school or the geekiest kid to enter high school.  Not only do you get to see how they change physically (case in point: freshmen year class picture to senior year) but also the relationships and conflicts that begin to create the person they are.  Its' definitely a St. Elmo's Fire meets The Breakfast Club kind of book you'll fall into.




8. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
It's not the flashy Marvel or DC graphic novel, but it's definitely a contender in attracting readers' attention through the clever use of dialogue and character.  Stevenson creates a meld of genres in this book.  She mixes a little fantasy with a bit of science fiction and adds a touch of historical fiction to create a fabulous graphic novel about friendships and enemies that holds a deeper meaning in what it means to be a true confidante and mentor.  I chuckled all the way through this book through Stevenson's dry and witty humor between the characters, especially Nimona and her unique talents.



9. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
There have been books that have made me shed a tear or two because of it's emotional impact, but this one jerked them right out of me because of its plot of love and loss.  Blending difficult days spent behind bars with a love story with the beauty of  adoption and foster care, Schmidt creates a character that has the weight of the world on his shoulders as well as the promise of new beginnings.  This isn't a book with lots of pages (in fact, it won't take hardly any time to read) but it makes up for it through the large emotional reach it'll have once the last page is turned.



10. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April G. Tucholke
This short story collection has the best YA authors that have written stories that are truly from the dark side.  This is horror at its best because it comes in small or large doses, depending on how much the reader can handle.  This isn't for those who get nightmares from reading YA horror and supernatural, but will definitely delight those who enjoy walking on the side tainted by dark evil and revenge.





And one to grow on....

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This is a slice of science fiction that takes place completely in outer space. There aren't a hundred characters, planets and ships to keep track of.  One plot, one (or two) huge conflicts, and two main characters makes this book readable and enjoyable for those  who can't manage to keep track of too much.  The authors write the story through transcripts, text messages, secret documents and  file and this is what makes it a standout.  While reading this, I saw it as a movie in my mind...excellent sign of a great YA read!!




Now, bring on 2016!!!

6 comments:

Kimbra Kasch said...

Here's to great reads in 2016!

bj neary said...

Loved your list and I can't wait to add a few more to my TBR pile, thanks!

bj neary said...

Loved your list and excited to add more titles to my TBR pile, thanks!

Tammy Cordeiro said...

I just found your blog and I really like it! I wish you would offer the option of following via email!

Naomi Bates said...

Never thought about that Tammy :) Just added it on the site! Thanks!!

Jo Sorrell said...

Orbiting Jupiter was powerful.