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Monday, December 5, 2011

My Top 5 YA Books of 2011

This is a Top 5 list I did for The Nightstand blog, but seeing as it’s almost the end of the year, I thought I’d repost it here. This was an exciting year for YA, full of controversy, innovation, and reinvention. Angels and mermaids charged into the paranormal fray, contemporaries made their mark in the wake of Stephanie Perkins's delightful Anna and Lola, and dystopians of all shapes and sizes took the literary world by storm. Here are my stand-out choices for 2011:

What a wonderful end to a wonderful trilogy. It took me a while to warm up to Belly and her agonizing love triangle, but by the third book, I was completely caught up in the angst, the dizzying romance, and the pitch-perfect voice of this entire series. I was sad to see summer end.

4. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Oh, Sophie, you make me laugh, and your potential suitors make me swoon. Hawkins manipulated my emotions so masterfully that I’m completely torn between Archer and Cal—the true sign of a well-executed love triangle. The storyline is so engaging and the dialogue so sparkling that I defy you to read it in more than one sitting. Pure fun from beginning to end.

3. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly really threw me. I was growing tired of paranormals with their impossibly beautiful love interests, and then came Unearthly with a completely new angel mythology wrapped up in an engaging contemporary package. Clara seemed so real to me, flawed and lovable, and the Wyoming setting was so original and grounded that the paranormal elements never stretched credibility. And then there's Tucker. Where have all the cowboys gone? Wyoming, apparently. An excellent start to a new series.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

This book was probably THE phenomenon of 2011. And it totally lived up to the hype. Compulsively readable, complex, and full of wicked twists and turns, this was a dystopian with bite. I loved that Tris was no Mary Sue; she’s feisty, proud, and stubborn with a pretty big chip on her shoulder. But she's also brave and selfless. And Four—what to say about Four? Strong, sexy, and brooding, he makes Tris earn his respect. Possibly my favorite love interest of 2011.

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Beautifully written, haunting, and original, Daughter of Smoke and Bone blew me away. While the higher fantasy of the last section lost me a little, for most of the book, I was completely swept up in Taylor’s prose and in the world she created. The lush descriptions of Prague had me itching to wander medieval streets and linger in dark cafes. The Marrakesh scenes are so vivid I could practically taste the dust in my mouth. And the forbidden romance between Karou and Akiva is full of such crackling tension and aching sweetness you don't want the book to end. Simply gorgeous writing and brilliant storytelling.

What was your favorite read of 2011?


Joanne R. Fritz said...

Eve, thanks for following! I'm your newest follower.

Have to agree about UNEARTHLY. That book made me want to move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!

And I'm in total awe of Laini Taylor. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE was the most sophisticated YA I've read in years.

I also loved DIVERGENT! So interesting. I've been selling lots of copies just by telling customers if they like HUNGER GAMES, they'll love this.

Another one of my favorite reads in 2011: EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A.S. King. So funny and so different.

Eve Marie Mont said...

Thanks for the comment, Joanne, and it's great to meet a fellow YA lover! I have been meaning to try A.S. King for ages; thanks for the recommendation!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I have not read any of these books, but this year, for some reason, was low on YA for me. I did read Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star and Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door, and both were very good.

Not sure which book I'd pick...I'd honestly have to go back and see which books I've read this year. :)

Eve Marie Mont said...

Yeah, Alyssa, I went on a YA binge, but lately I haven't had much time to read anything, and it's killing me slowly. The Name of the Star was one that looked pretty fascination; must check it out!

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

Ooh, nice choices! I've read all of them, and enjoyed pretty much all of them too (not the hugest fan of where 'Daughter' went, but the writing is gorgeous). 'Unearthly' was faaabulous, and I am not usually into angel books at all. And Divergent, well, that's probably my favourite book of the year.

I've been meaning to make a couple different posts with my top picks, so I think I'll have to work on my lists this weekend. =)

Eve Marie Mont said...

Ashley, yes, Divergent was amazing! I can't wait to see your list of top picks. I hope 2012 is as good as 2011 for YA!