This month, the Sweet Sixteens are blogging about favorite books and authors, a subject I could go on and on forever about. To narrow it into a readable blog post, I thought I would feature some of my favorite YA books that came out in 2014.
Let me first say this: 2014 was an incredible and important year for YA. So many amazing books came out, and while I read as much as I could, I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of my gigantic TBR list. (This is why when my parents and husband asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told them without hesitation: Kobo gift cards.)
So without further ado, here are the YA books that came out in 2014 that I’m still thinking about, by some tremendously talented authors!
Listed alphabetically by title:
BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler
I have followed Dahlia’s blog religiously since my days in the query trenches (which wasn’t all that long ago– what a difference a year can make!), so I was quite excited to read her YA debut. I especially love Dahlia’s use of humor– Ally’s voice made me laugh out loud more than once– the friendship between Ally and her BFF Vanessa, and the fresh spin Dahlia puts on a girl-meets-Hollywood-star love story.
BLEED LIKE ME by Christa Desir
Pitched as a YA Sid and Nancy, this book tells the obsessive, intoxicating love story of troubled teens Gannon and Brooks. It’s not your traditional love story– not even close. And Gannon is not your typical likeable female protagonist, either. She makes her share of mistakes and bad decisions, and hands-down, she’s one of the most memorable protagonists I have ever read. Gritty, haunting, and unflinchingly real, this is one book that will be on your mind long after you read it.
DAMAGED by Amy Reed
I just finished reading this (it kept me up late!) and it’s still lingering in my head, which is fitting because this beautifully written book deals with ghosts, both literally and figuratively. Kinsey and Hunter are both struggling with the weight of their guilt following a car accident that kills Kinsey’s best friend Camille. The two teens are about to realize that they can’t outrun their guilt and fear that easily– especially when Camille starts haunting Kinsey’s dreams. DAMAGED is both a ghost story, a love story, and a story that doesn’t shy away from difficult issues.
PERFECTLY GOOD WHITE BOY by Carrie Mesrobian
After SEX & VIOLENCE blew my mind, I was eagerly anticipating Carrie Mesrobian’s next book– and PGWB went above and beyond my expectations, giving an achingly honest glimpse into the life of a teenage boy searching for meaning and something to hold onto. After getting dumped by popular senior Hallie, Sean is left to make sense of his last year of high school– and to figure out his future. This book features a male voice so masterfully written that Sean feels like an actual person, one with both good and bad qualities. You completely forget you’re reading a fictional character at all.
SWEET UNREST by Lisa Maxwell
Lisa Maxwell’s debut novel features voodoo, a spooky mystery, and a mesmerizing love story. When Lucy’s family moves from Chicago to New Orleans, she finds herself plunged into an age-old mystery tied to the strange dreams she has been having. Lucy is the kind of main character you want to spend a whole book with– rational, yet spirited and inquisitive. This story features plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and the chemistry between Lucy and Alex is undeniable– and undeniably fun to read.
TEASE by Amanda Maciel
I love a protagonist who’s not traditionally likeable, and Sara, the main character in this book, fits the bill. TEASE tackles the subject of bullying and its tragic consequences, and it’s utterly fascinating getting into the head of the one doing the bullying instead of the victim. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that it’s not moralizing, just very honest. Sara isn’t painted in shades of black and white, as a terrible person– she’s just a person dealing with the terrible weight of her actions. This is a daring, provocative read that left me thinking about exactly how much damage words can do.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu
This book is multiple POV done absolutely perfectly. Each character’s voice feels so distinct, and hearing perceptions of Alice Franklin from each different perspective is fascinating. I love the way we get to know Elaine, Kurt, Josh, and Kelsey and hear their personal biases toward Alice before actually hearing from Alice herself. It really shows how much a story can be skewed beyond recognition through gossip and lies. The damaging effects of stereotyping and slut-shaming fuse together in this extraordinarily powerful book.
WE ARE THE GOLDENS by Dana Reinhardt
This book deals with how the bond between two sisters is threatened when one of them is keeping a huge secret for the other. I haven’t read many novels from second-person POV, and it’s used exquisitely here. As a reader, I feel all of Nell’s emotions as she is torn between loyalty to her sister Layla and doing the right thing. I loved being in Nell’s head as she felt herself drifting apart from her older sister, and as she navigated friendship, fear, and love under the weight of Layla’s secret. I couldn’t put this book down until I knew how it ended.
WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart
There’s a reason why everybody has been talking about this one since it came out. Dark, twisty, and beautifully written, with an unreliable narrator and an ending that will leave you totally shocked. This is one book I don’t want to say much about, because everyone should go in with the element of surprise. I will say that it’s all about secrets and lies, and the damaging power of both.
That’s a wrap! Now, as I get caught up on more 2014 reading, I also can’t wait for all the YA coming out in 2015… I feel like my Kobo and I will spend a LOT of quality time together in the new year. And that’s just the way I like it.