Top Ten Young Adult Favorite Reads of 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This has been a good reading year for me. I managed to read 212 books, for a total of 75,768 pages. Only 22 of those 212 warranted a five star rating from me, and only 9 young adult novels were among those 22 and most are represented here in this list. I read more YA this year than I have since I was a teenager, and have fallen in love with the genre. I'm still a fantasy girl at heart (expect a Top Ten Fantasy list soon!) but I was largely very impressed with my YA selections this year.

The Top Ten:

I read and reviewed this gem only in September of this year, but boy did it make an impression. The first in a series to come, I have high hopes for this author and series!

From my review:

The story is striking and imaginative and unforgettable. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a genre-blending exercise of win, unlike anything I have yet read. It's a new, charismatic spin on the angel/devil/seraphim/nephilim/chimaera theme, populated with real characters with actual personalities - relayed by dialogue and deed rather than an infodump. I loved the nicely tuned balance of action and wit, drama with imagination and wordbuilding on a grand-scale. When's book two out? I cannot and hope not to wait long for another installment in this spellbinding world.

Though I just read this in December, The Book Thief is impossible not to add to this list. Affecting, poignant and utterly impossible to put down, this is one of the rare ones that deserves all the hype and acclaim it can garner. I was an absolute mess after finishing (only four hours after beginning!) but in that full-hearted way one feels after a really, really great book.
From the review:
This is a work of art in novel form, moving and poignant from  its start in 1939 to its all-too-soon finish. Zusak's portrayal of these stand-out characters (Liesel, Hans, RUDY) will linger long in your memory. Don't dismiss this novel out of hand as just "another YA", especially if you are an adult. This book will resonate with and affect you even if you're long gone from the dreaded teenage years.

You won't just passively read [The Book Thief]: you'll experience Liesel Meminger's world in all its horror and beauty. 
I can't recommend The Book Thief enough. If you take one recommendation from this blog at all this year, let it be this one.


I have yet to write a review for this YA fantasy novel done almost perfectly. Seraphina has many of the dreaded staples of its genre hated by nonreaders: weird, foreign names, words with too many vowels or beginning with "q", and of course: dragons. What is so wonderful about this 2012 release is the unique and individual spin Seraphina puts on all these old, used-up tropes. Never old or boring, this is a fresh and lively addition to the fantasy ranks. Keep an eye out for my upocoming glowing review for its publication later in the year!

Another great read I loved immensely that I've sadly failed to review, but hardly one that is hardly unknown. The Hunger Games series is a force to be reckoned with with movies on the way and numerous reprints and editiosns, and is an enjoyable trilogy. But of those three, the first novel is the strongest, and the obvious best. Katniss is at her best here, doing things and creating action, with Peeta there to provide am emotional outlet. The Hunger Games is shocking, engrossing and one of the best young-adult dystopians I've come across.

My first young-adult novel from a Down Under author and I was quite blown away by the authentic emotions, strong yet still likeable characters, and dynamic storytelling consistently present throughout Graffiti Moon. This is a moving novel that is nothing short of impressive. I was hooked immediately and never wanted the book to end.

From the review:

I didn't just read Aussie author Cath Crowley's novel - I inhaled it. I read the entire two hundred sixty seven page novel in just under a three hour period; I couldn't put it down to eat, play with the dogs or even move from my desk to the reading chair. It's gripping, consuming and alive in a way very few stories are - and more should be. I want to pull huge sections from the narrative to quote - my whole review would be quotes if I were clever enough. This is, simply put, a beautiful book - beautifully written, carried, developed and ended. Graffiti Moon is a young-adult novel that transcends the genre of its origin; all ages of readers who appreciate a deftly woven, compelling read would treasure this book. It's brilliantly descriptive and full of evocative and moving imagery. This book moved me.

Ultraviolet is a great, great inceptive read. With an unreliable narrator and a truly interesting but completely real condition (synesthesia) Alison is a one-of-a-kind, original protagonist. She makes the book; strong, intelligent and relentless I wish more of my teenage female YA protagonists were more like her (though without the whole "did I murder someone or not" thing.) Twists and turns abound through the pages of this sci-fi mystery genre bender, and I need the sequel Quicksilver asap.

This is a novel that more than lives up to its advertising byline: Everything You Know Is Wrong. But you'll only know the why and the how if you read this novel. Its got a unique premise, gorgeous prose, epic tons of quotes to love, and more than helluva twist more than recommend it.

Yet another I've unfortunately yet to review, Angelfall is currently taking my GoodReads friends by storm. In my defense, I only heard of (and bought and read) this book mid-last week. I read it in two hours, and though it's relatively small at just 255 pages in ebook format, this is a GREAT novel. Angelfall gets so many things right that other authors miss, usually painfully: pacing, female action/fighting techniques, a gritty post-apocalyptic world, the romance angle, angels/nephilim, family interpersonal relationships.... all are handled ably and with a dab hand for imagery.

And one of the best parts about Angelfall? It's only $.99. Susan Ee is the first self-published author that has impressed me enough to wish she was traditionall published. I want my own hard copy of this delight and there none such as of yet. Buy this now, while you can get it cheap for Nook and Kindle. This is good. Buy it.

One of my first books reviewed for this very blog, I enjoyed Lirael far more than its predecessor and first in the series Sabriel. This is a smart and quite detailed YA supernatural novel with a very unique and creative magic system, first published way back in 2001, but one that hasn't aged a day.

 From the review:

Lively and absorbing, brimming with imagination and an utterly engaging plot. Suspense, sheer curiosity, genuine creepiness, unsettling creatures, along with unseen twists and turns make this a hard-to-put-down book. One of the best young-adult fantasy books I have ever read; better, even, than its predecessor Sabriel.I preferred Lirael as a protagonist compared to Sameth AND to Sabriel from the first book.

 Third and final book of the Abhorsen series and the second book of the trilogy to make this list (woo! what an accomplishment!;]), Abhorsen finalizes the strong trends and plots from the first two books. A fitting and very satisfactory ending to one of my favorite series, I was sad to end my reading but happy with the novel. This is a series for any fan of great female characters and unique, refreshing paranormal/supernatural aspects without vampires.

From the review:

This is a marvelous adventure. A great series with strong characters, a compelling plot and unique magic and creatures. Brilliant in all senses of the word. It is a  superb ending for an amazingly entertaining series; it deserves to be read. 

I just had so much fun with this twisted little teenage vampire tale. Pearl is a vampire with no regrets: difficult, strident, rude, supercilious, and above all, amusing. She walks the fine line between aggravating and pure humor, and with the benefit of a unicorn and some escapes, she comes across easily on the amusing side. This is a book made of win and pure fun.

The interesting set-up, the time-limit and unique proclivities of Pearl make the pace of this novel fly by. It's one of those books a reader picks up to peruse for a minute and is immediately lost within. I highly enjoyed this novel, and I think it will find love from a widely varied audience.
If you see it on a bookshelf in your near future, buy it, read it, love it.

Honorable Mentions:

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa (reviewed  here)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (reviewed here)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (reviewed here)

The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees (reviewed here)

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (reviewed here)

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (reviewed here)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.