Looking back over 2011, I realize I have read so many great books this year. While I read a large variety, I noticed that it was mostly the Young Adult books that I chose to review for my blog. From blockbuster hits to small indie gems, these are my favorite books of the year:
The Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking has gotten a lot of press this year as an example of an indie author striking gold. I see now that St. Martin’s Press has released these books in traditional form now, but when I read them in January, they were the first $2.99 e-books that I downloaded onto my brand new Nook back in January. While the version I read could have used some editing, the strength of Hocking’s unique Trylle world sucked me right in. I also loved the way she chose to end the love triangle.
Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead was my most anticipated book of the year. While Mead’s Vampire Academy series may be more popular, it is the romance between Georgina Kincaid and Seth Mortensen that made my heart race. I have been in love with this series for the past couple of years, and the final book was bittersweet. Never has a series caused me to fall in love, broken my heart and mended it together again the way this one had. And it was funny too!
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson was, by far, the most well-written book I read this year. A mix of paranormal, sci-fi, suspense and romance, this book had something for everyone. The main character, Allison, has a condition called Synesthesia which mixes up the way she perceives the information coming to her through her five senses. For example, she can see the color of sounds, feel personalities in words and taste when someone is lying. The descriptions showing the world from Allison's perspective are fascinating. Here's the twist, what is metaphor to the reader is real to the character. Brilliant!
Scent and Shadow by Mercy Loomis is my favorite vampire book of the year, and considering how many vampire books I read, that means a lot. Gabriel is how vampires are meant to be...no drinking animal blood to appease his conscience, no human turning his stone heart to mush, no sparkles. The author describes this book as almost an anti-romance. The characters get their happy ending, but it is nothing like you would expect. Sometimes, I like vamps to be the monsters they are meant to be, and Scent and Shadow delivers.
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini received my highest ranking out of all of my reviews this year, a Greek inspired romance with a modern day Helen of Troy. Helen is beautiful, but incredibly awkward, which makes her endearing. Oh, and then there is Lucas. *swoon* He is completely hot! But it isn’t just his looks—let’s face it, every male lead in YA novels is the most gorgeous boy ever—Lucas is strong and smart and thoughtful. The sexual tension between him and Helen practically ignites the pages. Even when Helen wanted to kill him and later when they found out they couldn’t be together, you just know there has to be a way to make it happen.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins proved that sophomore novels can be just as good as the debuts. After the stunning success of Anna and the French Kiss, Perkins returned with another beautiful teenage romance filled with unique characters and sexual tension. Lola is not a perfect girl. She makes poor decisions and lots of mistakes, but that makes her real. I have known many girls like Lola. She lies when she is afraid to tell the truth. She struggles with her identity. Her heart is traitorous and out of control. In other words, she is a typical teenage girl. Lola’s costumes are both an expression of who she is and a mask to hide from the world.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin was one of the most haunting stories I read all year. After being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from a tragic accident, of which she has no memory, Mara and her family move to Florida for her recuperation. But while she tries desperately to pretend she is getting better, she’s not. Are her hallucinations mental illness or something more? All she knows is that when she gets angry, the bodies start piling up.
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves is another indie book that I fell in love with. I lost a lot of sleep this week over this book! You might think that a story which largely takes place on a deserted island would get boring, but let me assure you, there is plenty of action, humor and romance to keep the pace moving. So much more than a simple survivor story, On The Island takes two highly developed characters--both at turning points in their lives--and forces them to into an endurance situation which will alter them both forever. Along the way, they have to confront issues such as life & death, what they want out of life, whether they will even have a future beyond the island and the effect their thirteen year age gap might have on their feelings for each other.
Ashfall by Mike Mullin is my choice for debut novel of the year. This post-disaster story follows a teenage boy’s fight for survival after the devastating eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano. My first impression of this book is how incredibly well researched it is. Not only did Mullin have the science down -- he calculated the exact spot in the country to set the story based on the ashfall projected from such an eruption -- but he also knew how the characters would feel, both physically and emotionally over what was happening around them. The opening scenes where Alex is experiencing the first 24 hours of noise and darkness were amazing! I felt like I was there right alongside him. This feeling stayed with me throughout the book, putting me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I am eagerly awaiting the follow up Ashen Winter due out in 2012.
I'm sure 2012 will bring it's share of wonderful books also. Here are a few that I'm looking forward to:
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins
The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells
Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
So, do you have any books that you are eagerly anticipating for 2012? Share with me!