I have never done a Best Books list, mainly because although I absolutely love to read these types of lists, I generally have a hard time choosing ten favorites from a given year. I read so much, but for me to put a book on a BEST list, it had better be damn good. And some years, as much as I read, I don't read ten great books. Let's see if I make it to ten for 2011. My favorites, in no particular order:
Marie Lu's smart, fast-paced addition to the dystopia coterie begs for a sequel. Violent and bloody, Legend is an in-your-face commentary on how the chasm between the haves and the have-nots in our society continues to expand.
Not a YA novel, but I'm pretty sure The Magician King, the sequel to Grossman's The Magicians will show up on a lot of high school reading lists. It's Harry Potter for grown-ups, wizardry with humor and intellect. Completely unpredictable and totally original. I loved it.
Of the spate of dystopian novels from this post- Hunger Games YA literary landscape, Delirium stands out. Sure, it's set up for a sequel, but that won't interfere with your enjoyment of this story. Is a life without love a life at all? Delirium is a perfect read for those who grew up reading The Giver and now want a YA experience.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a creepy, weird, atmospheric book. I love the harsh and hearty Welsh island setting. The odd, quirky characters remind me of a kids' version of Twin Peaks. I think the use of the old photographs is a little gimicky, and sometimes, author Ransom Rigg seems more enamored of the photos than how they actually fit into the story. But, Miss Peregrine is s curl-up in a blanket with the lights low kind of read.
Gothic and steampunky in a really cool way, Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavor tells the story of how a teenage Victor Frankenstein became the grown-up mad scientist we all know and love. What I liked most about the book is that Victor reveals every flaw in his own character, laying bare his jealousies and weaknesses.
By far my favorite book of the year. Not a YA book originally, but it's now being marketed as one. Two magicians are unknowingly pitted against one another in a strange contest; of course, they fall in love. I was so sorry to get to the last page, I read it twice. The Night Circus is magical. Really.
Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of the most unusual books I've read recently. Take a reluctant princess, marry her off to a weak but kind king, sprinkle in war, palace intrigue, a vulnerable stepson, and some newfound pluck, and you've got this coming-into-her-own novel. There are a few dead spots in the plot, but the writing is beautiful and the sequel is certainly coming!
There! I got to seven! Now, there are a bunch of other books that I enjoyed this year, books that I sped through and thought were pretty interesting reads. But they aren't quite "Best Books" material: Divergent, Supernaturally, Variant, Glow, iBoy. Read any of these and you won't be disappointed. I'm hoping to be a bit more openminded in 2012, not so harsh in my criticism of most of the stuff I read. we'll see. We'll also see if I get my book written...