Based on, A) the fact that I'm tired of writing negative things about books, B) I recently reached the halfway point of my 100-books-in-2011-goal, and C) have nothing else better to write about today, I decided I'd share my top ten so far this year! Despite some really bad ones, all in all it's been a fantastic year for YA and I can't wait to see what the second half brings!
I was going to try and keep the list to just this year's releases, but I'm going to include some late 2010 releases, too - just too many good books not to share. And the countdown begins with...
In the glut of dystopian novels that flooded the YA market in the wake of The Hunger Games, I was starting to worry that my favorite genre would be ruined forever by tired formulas and people trying to "cash in." I'm still worried (which is a post for another day), but at least Enclave proves that there are still writers out there who are determined to tell their story and not just the story they think readers want to hear. It's gritty, disturbing, and awesome in every sense of the word. I can't wait for more!
9. Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger (my review)
I have a secret, and I can't hide it any longer: I am a sucker for good romance. Jazz in Love isn't just good romance, it's excellent: funny, flirty, and sometimes ridiculous, but never quite over-the-top. It's the perfect rainy day (or any day) read whether you love romance or hate it. Plus, who doesn't love Bollywood movie references?
8. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (my review)
Melodramatic? Angsty? Unrealistic? Sure. But Revolution is also a gorgeous, original, and meticulously researched historical that kept me up till 2 a.m. wanting to know what happened next. I cried multiple times and, once I'd finished, turned right back to the first page and started re-reading. If that's not the mark of a book worth owning, I don't know what is.
7. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
I won't spoil it, but suffice to say that if you liked Shiver and Linger, you're going to love Forever. A lot of the issues I had with the first two books were resolved in this one, and Stiefvater proves once again that she's the master of multiple POVs as she manages to juggle Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole AND keep me turning pages till the wee hours of the morning. Beautiful prose and bittersweet explorations of teen relationships? I think yes.
6. Huntress by Malinda Lo
As soon as I finished Ash (my review), I knew Malinda Lo was an author I'd be returning to again and again - and after Huntress, I'm only more convinced. It's a lush, heartbreaking novel that manages to stay true to the fantasy genre while pushing its boundaries in a number of fantastical ways. I finished it so recently that I haven't even had time to review it, but you can bet it'll come with 5 stars and a rush-out-and-buy-it-right-now stamp of approval.
5. What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
I've gotten a little tired of the fact that almost all PoC YA these days falls under the "issue book" classification, as this one does, but Perez takes Marisa's story and makes it so much more than an "issue": it's heartrending with enough quick humor to keep it from being depressing. I was rooting for Marisa all the way and loved watching her grow as a character - definitely one of this year's best debuts.
4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Possibly the only book so far this year that I haven't seen a single negative (or even sort of meh-ish) review for, Where She Went doesn't disappoint. Like its predecessor If I Stay, I wasn't so sure about it on the first read-through, but with every subsequent revisiting of my favorite scenes I loved it a little more. Adam has one of the strongest first-person narratives I've read this year, and seeing his and Mia's relationship through his eyes is a bittersweet and lovely experience. Plus, emocore boys FTW. Obviously.
3. Bluefish by Pat Schmatz (my review)
When I compared Bluefish to YA classics like Holes and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, I wasn't doing it lightly. With unforgettable characters and writing as funny as it is poignant, I imagine it would be just as enjoyable for older teens and adults as it is for its younger teen target. It doesn't release till September 13th, but it's worth pre-ordering, for sure.
2. Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde (my review)
You know how some books sneak up on you? How you don't realize how much you love them until you find yourself thinking about them at odd moments, evangelizing them to people on the street, and changing your life because of them? Jumpstart the World is like that. It's short, sweet, and will make a convert of anyone who believes YA isn't literature. With its subtle revelations about the nature of gender, sexuality, friendship, and love, this is the kind of book I want two copies of - one to have on hand at all times for re-reads, and the other to lend to friends and family.
So good, you should stop reading this post and buy it and read it right now. Or re-read it. Words cannot touch the awesomeness. The kind of book I will name my firstborn child after. It pushes the limits of what a book can do in all the right ways, and also manages to stay entertaining. The only book I cry multiple tears for every time I re-read it (five times and counting). Seriously, guys, it's that good. READ IT.
Honorable mentions go to Outspoken by James Vachowski (my review) and Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell (review coming this week).
And now I'm curious: what late 2010-early 2011 releases did I miss? What do I need to go out and buy right now while it's summer and I've got a job and I'm not broke? Please leave your recommendations in the comments!