Once again we have done the tough job of reading scads of YA novels published this year and culling them down to our favorites. Just kidding…it’s not a tough job. We love it! We each have selected five of (in our opinions) the top YA books published this year. In no particular order, this is our list of the best Slatebreaking books of 2013!
SARAH’S TOP FIVE
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. This was one of my favorite books of the year, and one of the characters I loved the most too. I was talking to a 15 year old student about this book and she said “I just AM Elise Dembowski. I don’t know how she wrote it so perfectly.” I felt similarly – Leila Sales’s writing gets better with each book and I relate so deeply to her characters. I can’t wait for whatever’s next.
Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan. Unspoken was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I thought that the sequel was even better, building on the rich gothic world that has been created in Sorry-in-the-Vale. Kami becomes even more of a Slatebreaker in this book and the supporting characters are equally complex and engaging. This might be the trilogy of which I am most eagerly anticipating the conclusion over the next year.
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. I loved Code Name Verity so much that I was almost afraid to read this companion piece, for fear of disappointment. I shouldn’t have worried. While a completely different book than Verity, this is a masterful piece of work in its own right, and an important addition to the Holocaust literature already out there.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I love vampire stories, always have, so I am always up for a new re-imaginining of vampire lore. And this is the best one I’ve come across in a long time. The concept is outstanding, and really original, and breathes new life into familiar legends. And the protagonist, Tana, is a quintessential Slatebreaker – fiercely tough and protective but smart and thoughtful, trying to do the right thing for herself and the people she cares about.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I didn’t actually review this book for the blog, but it was one of my favorite things I read this year, of any kind. Saenz’s beautiful, poetic language perfectly captures the friendship that turns into love between these two boys, their wonderful families, and these two incredible main characters. I’ve been recommending it for months, and I’m glad I got the chance to do that here.
BRIANNA’S TOP FIVE
Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding. Although this book was published late in the year, it stood out so much that it easily earned a spot on my favorite list. Spalding crafted this complicated fictional family that completely won my heart. I loved every member of that family, and I loved their snappy dialogue, too. This book gave me warm and fuzzy feelings.
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross. I loved this book because of the gorgeous details that brought the time period to life. I could hear and taste and smell late 1800s Paris while I was reading. Ross took an idea from a short story and built it into something amazing and Slatebreaking. The characters are complex women who live at a time when they have few choices and risk a great deal to achieve their dreams. The best historical fiction books feel like time travel, and this one certainly transports the reader to another time and place.
Orleans by Sherri Smith. I will be honest: this book freaked me out. It scared me because it was the kind of dystopia that felt believable enough to be something that I actually might be living through in 20 years. That’s good writing. Orleans also features a platonic male/female relationship at the heart of the story, and I loved how Smith built a relationship between two characters without making it romantic. I didn’t want this book to end. Fen is the most Slatebreaking character I read in 2013.
Just One Day by Gayle Foreman. From the gorgeous cover to the Shakespearean themes interwoven throughout the story, I loved every bit of this book. Although Allyson has an emotional year, I grew to admire her as a character. This is the perfect book for escaping your surroundings and falling head-over-heels in love with great realistic fiction.
The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks. Superhero Girl may have awesome powers, but her greatest enemy is the self-doubt she battles every day when she wonders if being a superhero is the right choice. I loved this collection of comics because it reminds readers that you can go out and do amazing things with your talents, and when you come home at the end of the day you may still have questions about the world. And that’s ok.
And that’s all for now. What were your favorites this year?