Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish!
While I’ve only recently gotten into the YA this year, I feel like I have been devouring great books from the genre each month. I’ve even managed to catch up with some series in time for new releases! Here are the top 10 YA book I recommend if your book club (or you, independently) like YA:
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Background: The first book in one of my very favorite series, The Raven Boys starts out with a curse: if Blue Sargent kisses her true love, he will die. The curse, told to her by her clairvoyant mother, hasn’t been much of a problem in Blue’s life—until she meets a group of private school students, known as Raven Boys. One of the boys is on a quest, and when Blue foresees his death, she gets pulled into a strange adventure that leaves her wondering if her curse will come true.
Why I like it: I seriously got goosebumps just typing this out! Stiefvater’s writing is poetic and transfixing, and I love Blue and each of the Raven Boys in their own way.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Background: The first book in a duology, Six of Crows introduces us to a group of unlikely friends, in a gang know as The Dregs. There’s Kaz, a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes; Inej, a spy known as the Wraith; Jesper, a sharp shooter who can’t resist a game of chance; Nina, a Heartrender trying to survive the slums; Matthias, a convict with a thirst for revenge; and Wylan, a runaway with a privileged past. They are hired for deadly heist that will take the kind of cunning even Kaz may not possess, and it will take everything they have to work together—and not die in the process.
Why I like it: Six of Crows is a true thrill ride, and I fell for each one of these characters and their different skills and personalities, which only get more developed as the story progresses.
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Background: Before Six of Crows came Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, starting with Shadow and Bone. Alina Starkov, a cartographer in war-torn Ravka, doesn’t consider herself particularly special in any way. But when her best friend’s life is at stake, Alina unleashes a hidden power that gets her drafted into a different kind of army full of magic wielders known as the Grisha.
Why I like it: It’s much debated whether it’s necessary to read the trilogy before the duology (I didn’t), but it may be helpful in order to learn more about Grisha and the lands Bardugo dreams up.
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Background: At only 18 years old, Calaena Sardothien is one of the most well-known assassins in the land. After she is captured and forced to work in a labor camp, Calaena is freed by an unlikely person—the Crown Prince. He offers her a deal for her freedom: act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. But when Calaena accepts and moves into the castle to compete, strange things start happening, and her fellow competitors mysteriously start dying one by one. As Calaena tries to survive both the competition and the unknown murderer, she stumbles across a destiny even greater than she could have imagined.
Why I love it: I didn’t expect to love this series as much as I do. There are five books out now, and I’ve completely caught up and impatiently await the sixth. The story really does get more and more complex, and introduces characters you are guaranteed to fall in love with (or truly despise).
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Background: If you’re looking for something a little less YA, and more along the lines of “new adult,” look no further than A Court of Thorns and Roses. Written by the same author as Throne of Glass, the storylines are very different. ACOTAR is told from the perspective of Feyre, a young human woman who is forced to live in the lands of faeries after she kills one that was disguised as a wolf. Having only heard legends of the Fae, her fear turns into a fiery passion when she gets closer to the High Lord Tamlin. But when a dark power threatens to seize the lands and Tamlin’s freedom, Feyre must find a way to stop it.
Why I like it: I actually enjoyed this series even more than ToG. Some readers have trouble getting through ACOTAR, but then fall in love with the next book in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury, making it worthwhile. I liked both books, mainly because I really connected with Feyre and made it my mission to know what happens to her at all times. She’s super badass, and the cast of characters aren’t too shabby either.
- Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof
Background: Told through a series of instant messages, emails, audio transcripts, drawings, and any other channel of communication you can think of, Illuminae follows the lives of Kady and her ex-boyfriend Ezra, starting with the day their planet was invaded and attacked. Forced to evacuate, Kady and Ezra find themselves on separate spaceships bound for the same destination—until their fleet is threatened by an approaching enemy ship, a plague, and their own AI system, AIDAN. No one in charge will divulge what is really going on, and as Kady hacks her way to the truth, she realizes Ezra is the only person she can trust in her effort to keep them alive.
Why I like it: The nontraditional format is refreshing and makes the story go very quickly, which is necessary with a nail-biter like this. I constantly found myself needing to know what was going to happen next, rooting for Kady and her awesome hacker skills the whole way.
- This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Background: August Flynn seems like a normal human boy on the outside, but in reality he is a monster. Known as a Sunai, he can steal people’s souls with the sound of his violin. Kate Harker is a normal human girl, but wants to be as ruthless as her father, who holds power over half of their city, letting monsters roam free and making people pay for his protection. August wants to be as good-hearted as his own “father,” who controls the other half of the city, and does his best to protect the innocent from what lurks in the shadows. But when August and Kate’s worlds collide, they both find out what truly makes someone a monster, and start questioning who they can trust.
Why I like it: The fact that monsters in this book are born out of people’s greatest atrocities was a very interesting and creepy idea to me. I also love August with my whole heart.
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Background: A Cinderella retelling, Cinder is about an orphaned cyborg who is treated as second-class by not only her adopted family, but also society as a whole. The only person who seems to accept her is her younger sister, but when she is infected by a deadly plague going around their home of New Beijing, Cinder’s family blames her. Her stepmother threatens to hand her over to an institution that experiments on cyborgs to find a cure, where many don’t come back out alive. But along the way, Cinder’s life becomes intertwined with Prince Kai’s, whose father also has the plague. Their lives change drastically as Cinder discovers more about her past, and as they become the center of an intergalactic war.
Why I like it: This was the first YA book I read this year, so it was the literal push down the YA rabbit hole for me. I was hesitant at first, because some of the themes seemed weird. But fell in love with this series and couldn’t get through each book fast enough. I now even have a Lunar Chronicles-inspired tattoo!
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Background: Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world that Laia lives quietly with her grandparents and older brother in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, she is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Why I like it: Ok, so I haven’t actually read this series yet (if you couldn’t tell from my shameless copying and slight editing of the Amazon synopsis), but I want to! I hear great things about it. Not to mention, the author is a former editor for the Washington Post! I’m a journalist, so that seals the deal for me right there.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Background: I know this seems random compared to my choices thus far, but hear me out! This is a deeply emotional tale about Liesel Meminger, a foster child living in 1939 Nazi Germany. Liesel starts stealing books, eventually learning to read with her foster father’s help. Liesel shares her stories with the Jewish man hiding in their basement, as well as her neighbors when their homes are bombed. Narrated by Death himself, we follow Liesel’s story of friendship and loss.
Why I like it: I’ve always been an avid reader of historical fiction concerning World War II. I believe it is an important part of history that everyone should gain perspective on. That being said, The Book Thief was beautifully written book and told from a unique POV. It will definitely have points to reflect on in your next book club meeting.
From this list, it seems I’ve taken a liking to YA fantasy! I haven’t found a local book club that reads this genre; does anyone know of an online book club that reads YA and is accepting new members? I’d love to have people to talk with about these and upcoming YA books!