The Goodreads Choice Awards were announced recently, and I was happy to see YA author, Sarah J. Maas scooped another win in the YA Fantasy & Science Fiction category, this time for A Court of Mist and Fury (great book!). In 2015 it was her Queen of Shadows novel that secured her win, however, this year she was able to amass an astounding 57,000 votes!
The fact that I’m 44 years old and a huge YA fantasy fan has never seemed odd to me. I’ve been a fan of this genre for many years and plan to remain a loyal YA reader for a long time to come. I know I’m not the only ‘oldie’ who likes to read young adult tales and I see this in the number of likes and comments I receive on my blog posts when a young adult title is featured.
It was a flurry of blog comments between myself and awesome blogger, Sacha Black that prompted this post. Sacha is also a YA fan, although she’s much younger than me and therefore qualifies as ‘young.’ We often comment on the same posts, like the same book images on Instagram, and share the same tweets, and so she prompted me to share my favourite YA books. A tough job as I love so many!! However, always one to accept a challenge I decided to trim my ‘OMG that book’s AWESOME’ list down to a top ten.
In no particular order here are my ultimate favourites. These are the books I would run into a burning building to rescue. Books I would happily read several times over (and have!). Books that made me laugh, cry, and sulk when they came to an end.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
City of Bones is the first book in the Mortal Instrument Series. This was my introduction into the wondrous world that Cassandra Clare created, full of Shadowhunters, demon realms, vampires, werewolves, and mundanes. I was hooked from the opening scene where Clary Fray and best friend, Simon slink into a seedy nightclub called Pandemonium. Cassandra’s characters are so full of life (and mischief), and they became a huge part of my life. There are six books in the series, and each one is as magical as the next, but for me, City of Bones will always be extra special. As is the case with such a popular book series, some bright spark decided to turn it into a film – WHY? It crashed and burned as most adaptations do, however, if I pretend it has nothing to do with the book series then I quite enjoy watching the film with my daughter – the fact that Jonathan Rhys Myers is in it tempts me enough to watch it numerous times! At the start of this year, the series was also turned into a Netflix original TV show which is pretty good – season two is about to start, and I can’t wait.
Clockwork Princess is the final book in the prequel series that Cassandra Clare wrote alongside the Mortal Instruments. Set in Victorian England, the characters are the ancestors of the much-loved cast of City of Bones, and some of them (immortal warlocks such as Magnus) are in both series. Again, Cassandra creates characters that melt your heart and when I got to the last chapter of this book I was sobbing into my hankie!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I’ve blogged several times about my fangirl crush on Sarah J. Maas, and so it will come as no surprise to find her first series in my top ten. Throne of Glass is the first book in the five book series and remains my favourite. As a die-hard Buffy fan, I find myself drawn to feisty, female lead characters and Celaena Sardothien breaks the mold on this trope. Throne of Glass is dark, brutal, and gritty. The cast of characters take you on a winding path of hope, desire, and pain, but the ending of book one leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling that should be cherished. The rest of the books introduce new characters who deserve their own mini-series (Manon!) and end on such a cliff-hanger that you’ll suffer the most horrendous book hangover as you reach ‘The End.’ You have been warned!
Forsaken by Jana Oliver
‘Libraries and demons,’ she muttered. ‘What is the attraction?’
The opening line of book one in The Demon Trappers Series was enough to hook me in as libraries, and demons, are two of my favourite things! Another feisty female lead, this time it’s Riley Blackthorne, a demon trapper like her father. Riley is the only girl in an all-guy world, but she learns how to make it work. The secondary characters make for an interesting variety of twists; Simon is the angelic one, Beck is the sexy but unattainable one, and Ori, the mysterious stranger who keeps saving Riley’s life. There are four books in this series, and each one is as fast-paced as the next (Forsaken, Forbidden, Forgiven, and Foretold). The final book, Foretold, ends on a high with the ultimate demon apocalypse, will they make it? You’ll have to read it to find out!
Knife by R J Anderson
I do love a good fairytale, but this series is no ordinary fairytale! Knife is the first book of three (Knife, Rebel, and Arrow), and was author, Rebecca Anderson’s debut novel. The series is aimed at 6-11-year-olds, but I found it an absolute pleasure to read (and re-read). Knife is a fierce young faery who fights to save her dying people. Rebecca creates an entire fairy realm within the trunk of an old Oak tree, complete with a Queen, hunters, tailors, cooks, and healers. It’s a beautiful series with a fine cast of characters, each with a suitable fae name (Bluebell, Thorn, and Wink). Following the success of her first series, Rebecca wrote a companion series about the piskeys of Cornwall (Swift and Nomad).
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The first book in a series tends to hold a special place in the heart of any reader as it’s the initial taste of a new world, new characters, and sometimes, a new author. The Divergent series was my introduction to the incredible talents of Veronica Roth. For me, I was utterly captivated by this series and, like many readers fell hopelessly in love with Tris and Four. Tris is yet another fierce female lead character who the audience can’t help but cheer along as she takes on a host of adversaries. Divergent is clever, thrilling, action packed, and one of the best dystopian books I’ve read. Another blockbuster that was transferred to the big screen, however, I was relatively impressed with how they adapted this novel and it added another element to an already much-loved series. Warning – you’ll need a large box of Kleenex when reading the final book, Allegiant!
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Another debut author who exploded onto the YA scene with her novel, Red Queen, was Victoria Aveyard. I grabbed this book from my local Waterstones after spotting the beautifully intriguing cover. I wasn’t disappointed with my purchase! Victoria’s series is full of twists and turns. It’s a compelling tale of social injustice in a dystopian world with fully rounded characters, and a gripping storyline. Red Queen has it all and I became an instant fan before even getting to the end of chapter one! Victoria has since released the sequel, Glass Sword.
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
I adore this book! Rachel Caine is best known for her Morganville Vampire Series (which I also love), but this is a new magical series that totally captivates the audience. I liked the fact that this story was from a boy’s POV. Jess won me over immediately, with his love of literature and his reluctance to a life of crime. The strained relationship with his parents and twin brother make it easy for you to root for him when it comes time for him to leave. The characters are brought to life with expert ease; the fast-paced story keeps you hooked from the first page until the cliff-hanger ending. There are tears, laughs and tender moments, where the characters you believed were one thing, shock you and test your beliefs. Rachel has since released the sequel, Paper and Fire.
Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
The promotion for this book included the hook ‘perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas’, so it was inevitable that it should end up on my nightstand. The lead character, Elizabeth Grey is a lethal fighting machine, trained as a witch hunter to protect the land from the evil witches, wizards, and necromancers. When she’s thrown in jail for carrying herbs, she suddenly finds that her enemies become her allies, and everything she once believed is a lie. I loved Elizabeth’s character. She’s this tough killer who is top of her class when it comes to catching the magically inclined, but you also see glimpses of this vulnerable young girl. She doesn’t trust people apart from her long-time friend, Caleb, and so when she has to rely on her ‘enemies’ we see how she grows in her maturity. Witch Hunter is an easy read with plenty of action to keep you hooked. The plot is reasonably fast-paced with just the right amount of twists. Set in medieval times, you get a true sense of the period with Virginia’s descriptive prose and can feel the horror of how people accused of witchcraft were killed. The storyline is wrapped up satisfactorily at the end, but it leaves just enough threads for the sequel, King Slayer.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
It was Maggie Stiefvater who first enticed me to try YA novels when I was at the sprightly age of 37 when she released Shiver. I was already a massive fan of anything supernatural, vampire, or werewolf related, and so reading the blurb for this novel I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy – I never looked back and became an avid YA fan that same day.
Shiver is the first novel in Maggie’s Wolves of Mercy Falls Series. It introduces us to Grace, a human with a fascination for wolves, and Sam, a wolf with a fascination for humans, or one human in particular! At its core, this novel is a teen romance, but with the supernatural twist, it elevates it to something special. I love how the story is told alternatively from Grace and Sam’s point of view. It’s a wonderful book and a delightful series that I enjoy re-visiting.
So, there you have it, my personal top ten favourite YA books. I’m looking forward to reading more titles in the New Year and being able to share these with you throughout 2017.
Do you have a favourite YA book? Do you agree with my observations, or perhaps you have another YA book that tops your list. Feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.
Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Connect with me here: Twitter @ShelleyWilson72, Instagram or check out my Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson and http://www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog. You can also find me on Pinterest