I’m going to confine my top 5 list to young adult books since this is, after all, a blog for debut YA authors. 2011 was an exciting year for YA, full of controversy, innovation, and reinvention. Angels and mermaids charged into the paranormal fray, contemporaries made their mark in the wake of Stephanie Perkins's delightful Anna and Lola, and dystopians of all shapes and sizes took the literary world by storm. Here are my stand-out choices:
5. We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
What a wonderful end to a wonderful trilogy. It took me a while to warm up to Belly and her agonizing love triangle, but by the third book, I was completely caught up in the angst, the dizzying romance, and the pitch-perfect voice of this entire series. I was sad to see summer end.
4. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Oh, Sophie, you make me laugh, and your potential suitors make me swoon. Hawkins manipulated my emotions so masterfully that I’m completely torn between Archer and Cal—the true sign of a well-executed love triangle. The storyline is so engaging and the dialogue so sparkling that I defy you to read it in more than one sitting. Pure fun from beginning to end.
3. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly really threw me. I was growing tired of paranormals with their impossibly beautiful love interests, and then came Unearthly with a completely new angel mythology wrapped up in an engaging contemporary package. Clara seemed so real to me, flawed and lovable, and the Wyoming setting was so original and grounded that the paranormal elements never stretched credibility. And then there's Tucker. Where have all the cowboys gone? Wyoming, apparently. An excellent start to a new series.
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
This book was probably THE phenomenon of 2011. And it totally lived up to the hype. Compulsively readable, complex, and full of wicked twists and turns, this was a dystopian with bite. I loved that Tris was no Mary Sue; she’s feisty, proud, and stubborn with a pretty big chip on her shoulder. But she's also brave and selfless. And Four—what to say about Four? Strong, sexy, and brooding, he makes Tris earn his respect. Possibly my favorite love interest of 2011.
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Beautifully written, haunting, and original, Daughter of Smoke and Bone blew me away. While the higher fantasy of the last section lost me a little, for most of the book, I was completely swept up in Taylor’s prose and in the world she created. The lush descriptions of Prague had me itching to wander medieval streets and linger in dark cafes. The Marrakesh scenes are so vivid I could practically taste the dust in my mouth. And the forbidden romance between Karou and Akiva is full of such crackling tension and aching sweetness you don't want the book to end. Simply gorgeous writing and brilliant storytelling.
What was your favorite read of 2011?
Eve Marie Mont is the author of A Breath of Eyre (Kensington/KTeen, March 2012), the first in a trilogy about a girl who gets lost, literally, in her favorite books. Please stop by her website for more info, news, and updates.