As the new year dawns, it seemed like the perfect time to share my favorite books of 2014. Though I read roughly the same number of books in 2014 as 2013 , 94 to last year’s 90, I read the largest number of pages yet!
Over the month of January I will share my favorite books across four categories: short stories, fiction, memoirs & real history and young adult fiction. Today is the final day: YA Fiction!
Looking for a light-hearted read with a little supernatural flare? Look no further than Carolyn MacCullough. Her characters are lovable and her plot is quick and easy. I read both in the course of an afternoon, and was completely absorbed in the story.
Tamsin Greene is the odd one out in her family of Talented people –she’s dreadfully normal. When a stranger asks for help believing she is her Talented sister Rowena, Tamsin starts off on an adventure that takes her to the past and back. Along the way she experiences power, love, and friendship greater than she thought possible.
When I was in middle school, I loved all of the Lurlene McDaniels books. You’d think reading about teenagers battling cancer would be depressing but somehow she managed to make her stories about love and life. I mention this because John Green’s book is nothing like Lurlene’s, and thus is overwhelmingly depressing. Cancer becomes as much of a character as Hazel and Augustus as you get an intimate glimpse at the life of teenage patients.
Hazel and Augustus meet at a cancer support group. They fall in love while Hazel undergoes treatment. Their whole relationship revolves around their illness, but somehow that’s okay too. Green’s story is so realistic you almost forget that he’s writing a YA novel, which is kind of the point. He doesn’t minimize the teens’ emotions, nor does he make them into an overblown soap opera. He just lets them be.
Just like Hazel and Augustus would want.
And here you thought I was through with my book recommendations for the year! I couldn’t do another Christmas guide without mentioning my favorite YA books for the year. Most of them I’ve read within the past 10 months or so but a few old-school favorites made it onto the list.
1. Secret Letters by Leah Scheier : Victorian setting + strong female character + Sherlock Holmes-ian mystery? Count me in! This is the book that I thought The Name of the Star would be — and this time I wasn’t disappointed. Scheier is a genius with words: the story is fast-paced and enticing. My biggest disappointment with this book was realizing the sequel won’t be out for far too long. As a side-note, this is a YA version of Dust and Shadow by Lyndsey Faye that I reviewed earlier this year and mentioned in my books I recommend post.
2. Pure by Julianna Baggott: I’ve already reviewed this one on my blog but it was so stellar it warranted mentioning again. Baggott writes in the vein of Collins, Roth and Condie, making the book an excellent addition to any fan’s collection.
3. Looking for Alaska by John Green: As a Kenyon alumna I’m practically required to be a John Green fan; luckily for me, his novels are spectacular! I had to read Looking for Alaska as part of my YA Literature class (INLS 530) and I’m so glad it was a requirement. The story is so heartbreaking, “coming of age” done correctly. Drop everything and go pick it up, now!
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth: Another book for those Hunger Games fans, Roth writes about a post-apocalyptic US where families have been replaced with groups called factions. Teens are tested and placed into a faction based on their abilities, but once they get there the teens are forced to prove themselves. Terrifying in the way the Hunger Games are, the series is a way to keep Collins fans reading.
5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: I came late to the party on this one! It came out ages ago but it bears mentioning here. The story follows a young girl in WWII Germany who learns about the power of words through stolen books.