Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Five: Best YA Debuts of 2011

Last year I did Persnickety Snark's end-of-year top five lists. Though I don't think she's doing it this year and I haven't heard of any other bloggers doing it either, I still really want to do an end-of-year-best-books-most-favorites tribute sort of thing. Today I'm focusing on (in no particular order), my top five YA debut novels from 2011.

1. Where Things Come Back
John Corey Whaley
The greatness of this book is in large part due to its incredible setting. It's a lazy, slow-moving story in the best possible way. The main story of the disappearance of Cullen's younger brother is interspersed with a very different narrative that while at first confusing eventually ties together so perfectly. It's about no-longer-extinct birds, a nothing little town, best friends, and brothers. It's highly literary and one of the best comfort reads I've read in a while.

2. Rival
Sara Bennett Wealer
You might know I absolutely eat up stories about friendship gone wrong, and this is one of the better ones. It's not about mean girls or stereotypes, but instead an honest look at two girls whose close friendship falls apart in hurtful and complicated ways. Years later the girls face off as competitors in an already highly-competitive singing competition and their unresolved feelings must finally come to a head. One of the books I feel most confident in recommending to others, especially if you already enjoy contemporary YA or stories centered around music/performing.

3. Flirt Club
Cathleen Daly
If Rival is about friendship falling apart then Flirt Club is the exact opposite as Isabelle and Annie have a rock-solid, thoroughly geektastic best-friendship. This book walks the line between YA and MG. It's written as notes between the two girls (both of whom are a bit way nerdy) and is one of the few books to have me laughing out loud at it.

4. Leverage
Joshua C. Cohen
Ack. This book is brutal. Definitely one of the most brutal books I've ever read. It's characters are a mix of the worst and the best possible (KURT BRODSKY FTW) and though I'd love to reread it I'm a bit scared to if you want to know the truth. Still, if you want an amazing, if horrifying, story with awesome protagonists, this is your book.

5. Other Words for Love
Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
This is one of those complicated books where my feelings on it aren't so clear-cut right away. It's been almost an entire year since I read it though, and this is still a book I find myself thinking about every so often. Ari is one of the more realistic and well-written characters I've come across and her story is one I absolutely love.


  1. Oh, I haven't read any of these-- clearly, I'm missing out! That's what I love about people's "best" lists... it's a great way to see what I should be reading. :) Rival has been on my to-read list for ages- I have a feeling I'll LOVE it.

  2. Allison
    Ahhh definitely read it!!

  3. Oh, man, haven't read ANY of those! I think Rival sounds fabulous though. Haven't read a good friendship-falling-apart book in a while.

  4. I thought Leverage was fantastic. Painful, but so well done!

  5. Gilly
    You should definitely read it then!

    Wasn't it? I looove that book. I'm a little scared to reread it because that's how brutal it is, but Kurt has got to be one of my favorite characters of all time ever.