It's December and everybody and their dog seems to be coming out with Best of 2011 lists. I saw this particular bandwagon, thought it looked like fun, and decided to jump on. Therefore, my next few posts will be recap lists of some of my favorite books in a few different categories. I'm going to start with Young Adult for no other reason than that it was one of the easier lists to compile. I now present to you, in no particular order, my favorite YA titles of 2011.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is the book I was shoving into people's hands in the first half of the year. It's smart, funny, snarky, and completely over-the-top. A plane full of teenage beauty pageant contestants crash lands on a deserted island. Things go a bit "Lord of the Flies." Some reality TV pirates show up. There is a secret lair hidden in a volcano. There are footnotes and interstitial advertisements and all kinds of crazy. Words cannot do this book justice. You just have to read it. Like, right now.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater might just be the most romantic YA novel I read this year. The love story is the kind that unfolds slowly. It never burns with passion, but is, instead, a steady flame. And, gods, I'm kind of making myself throw up a little in my mouth. But, really, this book is so very, very good and the love story never gets in the way of the killer horses. Oh. Did I forget to mention the killer horses? Yeah, it's full of man-eating killer horses. So, if you want to skip the "kissing parts," there's that.
Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns is set in a world that feels highly influenced by Spanish colonial culture, from the clothing to the structure of the royal court to the religion. And, though I loved the unique setting, what I most loved about this novel was that the heroine is chubby and insecure. And, although she loses some weight and gains a lot of confidence, the former isn't the cause of the latter.
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by local author Laini Taylor is set in a Prague that is secretly home to demons, and its heroine is a young girl who was raised by these same demons. It's beautiful and romantic and has a twist on the angels and demons mythos that I haven't seen before. It's also highly cinematic and, as I was reading, I kept imagining the film that Guillermo del Toro could make of it and especially how his visual style would suit my vision of the demons so well.
Brenna Yovanoff's debut novel, The Replacement, impressed me when I read it last year. Her follow-up, The Space Between completely knocked me out. It's haunting and heart-wrenching and even now gets me a little misty-eyed when I think of it. Like the Taylor novel, it depicts angels and demons in a way that I haven't seen before. It may also be the bleakest novel on this list, but it does end on a hopeful note. And the cover is absolutely stunning.
Now I just have to start paring down my other lists to something manageable. Wish me luck.