Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Favorite YA Books That I Read in 2011

It's the beginning of January and I am back from vacation, which means it is time for me to reflect back on the reading year that was before I can embark upon the reading year that will be. My Favorite YA Books That I Read in 2011 are too numerous for one post (what can I say, I really like books), so I was going to split them into two posts, but there are too too many for two, so I will have to split them into three. In part 1: wizard whales, vampires, two versions of the afterlife, a fairy tale retold, and two guys named Will.

Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards #2) – Diane Duane
The main characters transform themselves into whales and swim to the deepest part of the ocean to perform an ancient ritual that will save the world by staving off an onslaught of evil. If that previous sentence appeals to you, pick this book up right away. If not, it wasn’t meant for you.

There's also an amazing bit with a great white shark, who is THE shark, and who is alternately terrifying and amazing. I still never want to meet one in real life (knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood), but I was amazed to find that a great white could be a sympathetic character.

In this fourth Vampire Academy novel, Rose travels to Siberia to track down Dmitri. She intends to keep a promise she made to him, however difficult it may be. Rose has always been tough, but this journey tests her limits, thrusting her into alien territory and forcing her to dredge the depths of her soul in order to survive. Plus, what’s more thrilling to read about than doomed romance?

Rose continues to be inspiring in her baddass-ness. And Richelle Mead has a way of writing that keeps you hurtling through her books, hungry for more action.

When Samantha, this book’s shallow narrator, dies in a car accident, she is given the opportunity to live her last day again and again. As she is trapped in this seemingly endless loop, she becomes a better person and learns to appreciate her life. But (unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day) escaping the loop may mean the end of her life.

I began this book really disliking the main character. But Lauren Oliver makes her emotional journey realistic and touching, and by the end she is both sympathetic and noble. This book shows what all of us might become if we free ourselves from the the unhealthy and unnecessary boundaries that we place on our own lives.

If I Stay, a book about a girl on the precipice between life and death, is not a grand treatise on the meaning of life, but rather a quiet tribute to the power of love and the will to keep fighting. The exquisitely painful sequel, Where She Went, picks up Adam and Mia’s story three years later, and will have you saying “If they don’t get to be together, I am going to FREAK OUT.” 

Gayle Forman's strength is in creating characters who are cool, funny, awkward, flawed, and full of love. In other words, people you want to hang out with for 500 or so pages, and who you miss when you finish the books.

After a series of sexual assaults, a girl retreats from her village into a magical place that contains only herself and her two daughters. The three live in safety, until the outside world starts to creep in. Equal parts disturbing and beautiful, this Snow White and Rose Red adaptation is required reading for anyone interested in the dark side of fairy tales (and for anyone who loves bears). 

This was released as an adult book in Australia, and it contains so many moments of despair that I felt like I was being continually gut-punched while I read it. Luckily, it contains just as much hope and healing.

Two boys with the same name meet in Chicago, and the meeting changes both their lives in unexpected ways. And one of them is friends with Tiny Cooper, the most wonderful character in all of literature!

There’s a reason this book is beloved: it is completely awesome! What other book’s big climax features the performance of an original musical? This is the kind of book that if someone you know reads it and doesn’t like it, you may have to conclude that they have no heart.

Tomorrow: look for Part 2 of My Favorites!