I love doing awards, but can never settle on a format. Here's what I'm going for this time around.
Today's post will cover YA books released in the first six months of the year. (Hopefully, unless I've messed up any release dates, anyway!) I'll name my top three contemporary, historical, fantasy/sci-fi and paranormal.)
Part two will cover MG books, self-published books, books published prior to 2012, books to be published soon that I've already read (not that I'm boasting...) and possibly some awards for characters as well. Hopefully, you'll find out about some cool new books when reading the lists!
(Note: Many of these were originally reviewed for The Bookbag - a few links go there.)
This has been a phenomenal six months for YA contemporary books so I'm going to cheat here and name three in joint third...
Joint 3rd - Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Corriel - Girl goes from Mistletoe Queen to social outcast when her friend starts spreading rumours about her. Exceptionally well-handled subplot with Chloe's grandmother suffering from Parkinson's makes what I was expecting to be a light read really stand out.
Joint 3rd - Torn by Stephanie Guerra - I gave this 4 1/2 out of 5 stars when reviewing it for the Bookbag and have been kicking myself ever since - I'm not sure why I didn't go for the full five. Intense, with some incredibly harrowing scenes, and packing a lot into a fairly short length, Guerra's story of two mismatched teens who find friendship with each other - nice girl Stella and erratic, fiery Ruby - is one of the best coming of age stories I've read for years.
Joint 3rd - Silenced by Simon Packham - Chris is left unable to speak after the death of his friend Declan. Can Declan's girlfriend Ariel or the new boy Will help him come to terms with his grief? And what exactly happened on the night Declan passed away? As good as Comin 2 gt u, Packham's first teen novel, was, this is even better, with a surprising amount of humour despite the subject and an absolutely superb narrator.
2nd - Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - This tale of a girl returning to the scene of annual holidays from years earlier to spend some time with her dad, who's dying of cancer, reduced me to tears on numerous occasions. Matson has written two of my favourite novels of the past few years now, and is definitely one of the best authors around.
1st - Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt - I loved Second Chance Summer so much that I can't quite believe I'm not putting it top of this category - but debut author Jarratt's tale of a girl struggling to cope with a car crash which left her disfigured and her best friend dead just about takes it. This is a truly gorgeous romance which also handles prejudice, mental illness, grief and disfigurement pitch-perfectly.
3rd - Changeling by Philippa Gregory - Gregory's YA debut, set in 15th Century Europe and following a 17-year old expelled from his monastery and trying to map the End of Days, features perhaps the best central quartet of the year. Main character Luca, his servant Freize, noblewoman Isolde and her maid Ishraq are all exceptional.
2nd - The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant - If there was a 'Most Underrated' category, this spellbinding, breathtaking, wonderful story about two teens who fall in love during World War II as one gets involved in the French Resistance would absolutely walk it. Heart-rending, beautifully written, and I have no idea why more people aren't raving about this one.
1st - Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - On the other hand, it's very, very clear why pretty much everyone IS raving about this one. Another World War II story, this had me in absolute floods of tears. The central duo of two girls - one a pilot, another a spy - are two of the best characters of the year and Wein's writing is breathtaking.
3rd - Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer - The comet which brings visions of colourful sunsets and a purple moon also brings death to the adults on Earth in this chilling tale. Abby Leigh and her brother Jordan are left trying to look after the other children on their small island - with puberty, and death, quickly approaching Abby, can she hold on until a cure can be found? Cramer makes a fairly far-fetched premise work because his characters are so well-developed that the darkest parts are utterly heartbreaking.
2nd - Wereworld: Shadow of the Hawk by Curtis Jobling - Jobling's epic fantasy continues. I'm not even summarising it to avoid spoilers - but the heroes are still brilliant, the villains are still truly terrifying, and the character development throughout the series is outstanding.
1st - Fear by Michael Grant - Too gruesome for my tastes, very long, and confusing in parts. Despite this, it's my favourite sci-fi novel so far this year because Grant's dystopian series has some of the most incredibly well-developed characters I've ever read about. I love the way the non-powered kids in the FAYZ are so important to the society they've built, I love Albert's character arc over the last few books, and one scene between Brianna and Dekka is one of my top three scenes of the year so far.
3rd - Hollow Pike by James Dawson - Dawson's incredibly tense tale of a small town where rumours of witchcraft may be more than just rumours is wonderful. His portrayal of school life, particularly the bitchiness of teen girls, is superb, and he's created some outstanding characters.
2nd - A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton - Another fabulous location in the seaside setting of Winter, and a stunning romance. As great as these elements are, though, and as brilliant as Warburton's world of witchcraft is, the truly outstanding thing is her writing style which is packed full of wonderful dialogue.
1st - Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill - 700 or so pages and not a word wasted. Truly immense. Brilliant action, great romance, and cuts between half a dozen or so viewpoints absolutely perfectly. Staggeringly good, and I can't wait for book three.
Overall Top 5:
5th The Things We Did For Love
4th Department 19: The Rising
3rd Second Chance Summer
2nd Skin Deep
1st Code Name Verity