Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ten: Favorite YA Reads of 2011

Since I had my Best YA Books of 2011 post up on I Heart Daily, I debated not even doing this personal post. But in the end I couldn't not talk about my favorite YA books that I read this year, whether they were published in 2011 or not. The books are in the order that I read them in.

1. Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
I really worry I've over-hyped this book. I also worry I haven't hyped it enough. Is there any reader of this blog who hasn't read it yet? If so, FIX THAT RIGHT NOW. Seriously. I was late in reading this one because, well, I didn't believe the buzz surrounding it. That was stupid of me because I don't even have words enough for how much I love this book and how incredible amazing perfect I think it is. 

2. Leverage
Joshua C. Cohen
This book is so raw and so brutal that, as much as I've talked it up, I'm not sure I've ever officially recommended it to anyone. This is because what happens here really is so, so horrible. But this horribleness is met by some of the strongest, best characters I've come across. Kurt Brodsky, I love you. 

3. Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Gayle Forman
I have a thing for sad, tragic stories and Where She Went completely fits the bill with a heartbroken, struggling protagonist and one magical New York night of what was and what could be and what is. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I loved this second book even more than If I Stay. Gayle Forman is a master.

4. Rival
Sara Bennett Wealer
One of the absolute best debuts of this year, the story of friends-turned-enemies is an incredible, incredible portrayal of the complex emotions that go along with a friendship that falls apart. It's been recommended as a good read for those interested in the arts, since its main characters are aspiring professional singers, but honestly as someone who knows nothing about music, I love love loved this book and would love to have it see a wider readership.

5. Imaginary Girls
Nova Ren Suma
I've heard this book called creepy, weird, scary... all of which is, to varying degrees, true. It's creepy, but it's also really beautifully written and incredibly atmospheric. It walks the line between reality and fantasy, between commercially viable and literary, which I love. But my favorite thing about this book, by far, is the fact that at its core it's about the love and bonds of sisterhood. Definitely one of the best sister stories out there.

6. Summer Trilogy
Jenny Han
The cover of this book is a stand in for the entire Summer trilogy, two books of which I read in 2011. I can confidentaly say that this is the best written love triangle I've read. The emotions of this series are so incredible and so crisp that it became an instant favorite of mine. Add to this the fact that the ending is so, so perfect and it's a complicated love story I seriously, seriously recommend.

7. Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
Much like Anna, this is another book I put off reading because I didn't believe the incredible buzz surrounding it. Sometimes, you guys, I'm really stupid when it comes to this stuff because Before I Fall is absolutely one of the most powerful books I've read. Bar none. Though living the same day seven times seems like it would give the story a repetitive feeling, in the hands of Lauren Oliver it's a true masterpiece of a story and one I highly recommend.

8. Bunheads
Sophie Flack
I don't even know what to say about this book. It's stuck in my head as something very different from many of the other books I've read this year. Romance takes second place to a girl's struggle to become a soloist in the Manhattan Ballet Company and her struggle to define and redefine her dreams and what success means. The big issues of passion and life choices are set against a brilliant backdrop here and the in-depth look at life as a ballet dancer is fascinating. And aside from that I just love it.

9. Stupid Fast
Geoff Herbach
What could be a dark and depressing tale of misery and woe is instead hilarious and wonderful here. A summer of changes, of secrets uncovered, of love and running and football and growing up. Though I hate to call it a boy book I will say that, male or female, Felton Reinstein has one of the strongest, best voices of any main character this year. Read this book for the story, the characters, or the funnies, but just read it.

Okay, I know this is supposed to be a top 10 list, but honestly there are so many books I've read this year that deserve a spot on the list. It's hard to choose. I loved all of these books and more, so I'm leaving this tenth spot open to interpretation.


  1. LOL, I've never read any of those, but I enjoyed reading your remarks, nonetheless!

  2. My two favorites on your list are Anna and the French Kiss and Leverage. Like you, I am weary to recommend Leverage even though it made my top YA book of the year. It is SO good!

    Happy New Year!

  3. Amelia
    LOL, thank you!

    Exactly! I want so many people to read Leverage (I think it's a great book to discuss for one thing), but am sooo hesitant to recommend it. One of the top most brutal books I've ever read for sure.
    Also, what did you think of Lola compared to Anna?

  4. Was excited to see your top 10. You're one of my favorite bloggers, lady. In case you didn't know.

  5. I have sadly not read any of these books; however I did read a 40 page preview of "Bunheads". It was wonderful! As soon as I get the chance I will try to purchase it and read it. I've heard great things about it and wonderful reviews as well. Thank you! :)