I’m anxious about posting this with two weeks of the year left…just since the beginning of December I’ve read some of my favorite books of the year! But as of right now, here’s my top ten.
(kind of in order of my favorites…the top 3 rotate depending on my mood.)
1. QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas
Book 4 in the Throne of Glass series has the most perfect pacing of any fantasy book I’ve read. It’s also a book of Big Moments, where many of the events/confrontations we’ve all been waiting for finally happen. We follow many different characters (though the story remains in 3rd person), including Celaena, Chaol, Dorian, and characters we were introduced to in later books like Manon, Rowan and Aedion. Normally I have a set favorite POV in books like this and get bored with all the others, but I honestly enjoyed every page of this.
2. SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen doing what Sarah Dessen does best: complicated family dynamics, supportive friendships and self-discovery. That’s what drew me to her stories initially, and SAINT ANYTHING reminds me of my favorite Dessen books (THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, ALONG FOR THE RIDE). Sydney’s reckless older brother is sent to jail, stealing their parents’ attention and casting Sydney into the shadows. Then Sydney meets the Chatham family and learns she might not be as invisible as she thinks. Read my full review of SAINT ANYTHING here.
3. WINTER by Marissa Meyer
The long-awaited finale of the Lunar Chronicles is FINALLY here! WINTER is part-Snow White retelling, part space odyssey as our entire crew heads to Luna for the big showdown with Queen Levana. At 800+ pages, the book was everything I’d hoped for! The story’s evolution from the beginning of this book to the end (not to mention from CINDER to WINTER) is amazing to see. And Winter herself has become one of my favorite Lunar Chronicles characters. I’m so happy Marissa is publishing a short story collection (including a WINTER epilogue!) so we can follow up on our favorites!
4. ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers
I’ve talked nonstop about this book since it came out in April. It’s a harsh look at the victim blaming culture in our society after a teenage girl is raped at a small town party. She comes forward and is ostracized, bullied horrifically by classmates and townspeople—especially the sheriff, father of the accused rapist. Courtney Summers also uses great imagery and sharp prose to make the reading experience even more visceral. Read my full review of ALL THE RAGE here.
5. THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord
I was late to the Emery Lord party, but now you’ll have to drag me out because I am never leaving! THE START OF ME AND YOU follows Paige, who's still shaken up over last year's drowning death of her boyfriend of two months. She decides junior year is her fresh start: new activities (somehow she gets roped into joining Quiz Bowl), going out with friends (she’d spent the past year avoiding parties), and finding a new boyfriend (her old crush seems like a good place to start). Then her crush’s adorably nerdy cousin, Max, befriends her and throws a wrench into her plans. This synopsis (and the one on the book flap) does the story no justice. Emery Lord writes friendships we need to see more of in YA: supportive girls who’ll do anything for one another. Paige’s friendship with her three friends, especially Tessa, was the star of the book for me. In addition to, of course, the perfection that is Max Watson. Nerd love! Full review to come.
6. SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
Kaz Brekker and his street gang take on an impossible heist: break into the heavily secured Ice Court and steal one of its prisoners. Succeed, and they’ll be beyond rich. Fail, and they’ll probably all die. I loved following Kaz’s team of thieves, spies, and convicts—the story is told from five of the six crew members’ POVs—and, even though their morals are a little askew, I adore them all. Especially Kaz, Inej, and Nina. If you weren’t crazy about the Grisha trilogy (I made it through Book 1 but that’s it so far), still pick up SIX OF CROWS. A much more enjoyable cast of characters, even better worldbuilding, and great pacing. Read my full review of SIX OF CROWS here.
7. AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir
My favorite 2015 debut. This brutal fantasy world is based off ancient Rome and follows Laia, who sneaks into the military academy as a spy in an effort to save her kidnapped brother. There she encounters Elias, top of his class but desperate to desert instead of serving the Empire after graduating. Fantastic worldbuilding, both POVs are equally strong—I would’ve read a full book about either character—and play off each other well. It was originally marketed as a standalone (but clearly written with the hope for a sequel) and now we’re getting a second book next year! Read my full review of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES here.
8. AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson
Warning: you will want to take a road trip after reading this! After her father dies in a car accident, Amy and her mom are moving to Connecticut. Still too scared to drive, Amy’s family friend Roger tags along. Quickly disregarding the planned route, Amy and Roger see the sights—and deal with all sorts of emotional baggage—along the way. Full of fun add-ins like Morgan Matson’s own road trip pictures and playlists, this book is such a fun read. The light and heavy emotional moments balance perfectly. I can’t believe it took me until 2015 to read this one! Read my full review of AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR here.
9. BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray
A plane full of teenage beauty pageant contestants crashes on an island. Is it a Mean Girls-style cafeteria brawl? Lord of the Flies? Or could they actually work together? Libba Bray’s novel is a genius look at society’s portrayal of teenage girls. Each character was fleshed out so well, and the friendships were positive and supportive. A whip-smart, hilarious and poignant read. Read my full review ofBEAUTY QUEENS here.
10. JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman
I devoured this book in, wait for it…just one day. It’s part-travel adventure, part self-discovery. Allyson ditches her European tour group to visit Paris with Willem, an actor in a traveling Shakespearean company. The first half of the book follows Allyson’s choice in the day that follows, while the second half details Allyson’s return home and first semester of college. It’s a romance for sure, but Allyson spends most of the book figuring out who she is. I enjoyed the character development, and now I’m desperate to plan a trip to Europe!