Sarah Beth Dayer of Mill Valley Library knows her way around a Young Adult collection. She was kind enough to share some of her own favorites with us and we appreciate it.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This title was my favorite young adult book published in 2015. Yes, it is that good. For someone who does not normally gravitate toward realistic fiction I absolutely fell for this heartwarming, funny, and honest story. Simon is an “in the closet” teenage boy who is quickly falling in love with one of his classmates…through emails. When the school’s class clown discovers one of Simon’s emails he threatens him with blackmail. Fans of The Perks of Being A Wallflower should add this title to the top of their reading list.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Not everyone will appreciate how clever and thoughtful this story is, but I love the unique premise and relatable yet flawed characters in this book. The Rest of Us Just Live Here follows a group of normal teenagers dealing with typical teenage problems while a mysterious paranormal invasion is occurring in their town. Instead of experiencing the action from the front lines as is the case in most stories, Mikey and his friends are simply trying to get through high school while looking on as the “Indie kids” try to save the planet.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
After I finished The Mortal Instruments series I was desperate for something similar and found the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. The first book in the series follows a young girl as she moves between her two lives, an art student studying in Prague and an errand girl for the monstrous creature who raised her. This story seamlessly blends urban fantasy with world building with supernatural romance into a captivating page turner that you will not want to put down.
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
In this somewhat unknown Regency romance, seventeen year old Althea is responsible for marrying well in order to save her family’s crumbling castle. Along the Yorkshire coast eligible young men are scarce so when the handsome and single Lord Boring arrives Althea sets her sights on him, but his disagreeable companion keeps getting in the way. As a fan of Jane Austen, I found this novel of manners utterly charming and delightfully witty; the companion novel, A School for Brides, is just as wonderful.
Winger by Andrew Smith
One of the many reasons I love Winger is that even teenage boys who do not devour books will enjoy this story. The hilarious narrator, Ryan Dean West, takes readers into the mind of a 14 year old boy, the good, the bad, and the perverted. He is two years younger and much scrawnier than his classmates at boarding school and in love with his 16 year old best friend. What could go wrong? Laugh out loud funny, angst filled, and heartbreaking, this coming of age story is reminiscent of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Alexie Sherman, complete with hilarious illustrations.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston and The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
I am a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling and this year did not disappoint. Two books inspired by The Arabian Nights were published in 2015, A Thousand Nights and The Wrath and The Dawn. Both stories follow a young girl who volunteers to marry a murderous king. While A Thousand Nights is a more thoughtful version of the story that reads like an oral tale, The Wrath and The Dawn is a fast-paced mystery with a focus on forbidden romance. If you love The Arabian Nights as much as I do you will want to read both of these enchanting tales. Another of my favorite fairy tale retellings is Entwined by Heather Dixon, inspired by The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Other young adult books I LOVE include:
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen