Discover our YA favorites from the year that was!
2016 hasn’t been a great year in a lot of areas, but it has been a great year for YA books! From standalones to series endings, contemporary to high fantasy and sci-fi, there was something for everyone to enjoy. And enjoy them we did! Now, our staff is sharing our top picks of 2016 with you!
Because we loved them all, these books are presented in alphabetical order, not by rank.
A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir
Laia and Elias are back! The continuation of their journey is painstaking and brilliant as they head to the heavily-fortified Kauf Prison to free Laia’s brother, who may be the key to a successful Scholar rebellion. But the Martials have some devastating plans of their own in which Helene finds herself caught up. Hopes and alliances push and pull at each character with devastating results. Add in some mystifying otherworldly forces that could destroy them all and you’ve got a very worthy sequel!
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
In our opinion, every Leigh Bardugo book deserves a spot on a top 10 list for its year of publication, but it’s especially true for the Six of Crows duology. Filled with a diverse cast of clever, interesting characters, these heist novels grab your attention, play with your mind, and leave you cheering for a merry band of criminal underdogs. We were in awe of the twists and heartfelt moments that Bardugo crafted in Crooked Kingdom, all leading up to a powerhouse conclusion.
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Sarah J. Maas continues her fantastic Throne of Glass series in this book, which is emotional, exciting and captivating. This book was an absolute joy to read. Sometimes series can get slightly sluggish towards the end, but Maas has mastered the art of storytelling. Aelin’s story gets more interesting around every page turn, and there is never a twist you will see coming. The characters are grounded and believable and continue to be at the heart of this series. Empire of Storms has only made this series better, and I cannot wait to see how it all ends next year.
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
People, The Illuminae Files are more than just books! They are creativity, art, and ideas chewed up, spit out, and rearranged into something freaking spectacular! Told in the form of text conversations, documents, code, transcribed security footage, and more, these novels take a fun, unique approach. We were a little worried that the two new protagonists, Hanna and Nik, wouldn’t hold a candle to Kady and Ezra, we were wrong! These two was quick, clever, and kickass when BeiTech threatens the Heimdall Jump Station. We loved this insane space adventure as much as– if not a little more than– its predecessor.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Equal parts clever, whimsical, and quirky, Marissa Meyer delights with Heartless, the villain origin story for Alice In Wonderland’s dreaded Queen of Hearts. It introduces the villain back when she was just Cath, a 16-year-old who wanted to choose her own path and got twisted in a web of fate, attraction, and conspiracies instead. The story has all the elements we loved from the original tale, plus eye-popping new ones that will make you laugh, then devastate you. Even when the action isn’t front-and-center, the world is super lush and draws you in seamlessly.
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
There’s a new gang of Shadowhunters and their Downworlder friends on bookshelves and we couldn’t be happier! Picking up on the tension between Shadowhunters and the Fae introduced at the end of The Mortal Instruments, Lady Midnight is a dark, action-packed mystery with brilliant political undertones. But mostly, we were just obsessed with the characters. Emma and Julian are incredible leads who complement each other wonderfully, along with amazing secondary characters like Cristina, Mark, Kieran, Malcolm, and the Blackthorn brood. The novel makes you care about each and every character and man, are we invested!
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
The third and final book of the Red Rising trilogy could not have blown me away any more than it did. I cried both tears of sorrow and of joy. Nothing was stagnant. The main characters were ever changing and growing, regardless of what side they were on. Not everyone is all good or all bad, showing their complexities as humans. We also see the story and universe expand to amazing levels without going over the top. Admittedly, it’s also crazy violent, as war often is, and as I’ve hinted at, it’s incredibly emotional while still being insanely action-packed. This is definitely my favorite book of 2016 in the science fiction genre, and one of my favorites overall.
Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer
A witty, well-written story about the coming-of-age and the sudden blowing up of the seniors in a small town of New Jersey. It would just send out bombs every time you least expect it. Reading it is like reading Game of Thrones, except funnier. One rule of the book is that you shouldn’t have a favorite character because it might end up dying, or in this case, exploding. Aaron Starmer just give a reason to laugh at spontaneous combustion.
The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
The final book in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites trilogy had a much different, more introspective vibe than the first two novels, but we found it more satisfying on a lot of levels. Adelina Amouteru is a full-blown villain, a conquering queen inspiring fear and death wherever she roams. The Dagger Society toils in hiding. There’s only one thing she can’t have: Violetta, who has left the comforts of Adelina’s kingdom to join her betrayers. But when an unfathomable threat that’s beyond any of their powers begins to take its toll, Adelina joins her worst enemies in the ultimate battle for control.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Such a smart, thought-out story about two people meeting and the events that take them through the day. We meet Natasha and Daniel, a seemingly unlikely pair that, despite their different backgrounds and different outlooks on life, as well as the fact that Natasha is about to be deported to Jamaica, manage to find a connection with each other. With the demand for more diverse books, this one shows diversity in its glory and prejudices in serendipitous nature. Nicola Yoon is amazingly talented, weaving in other supporting chapters that give us careful glances at other characters affected by both Natasha and Daniel, further enhancing the overall story.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Released in January, Truthwitch immediately stole our hearts with strong female leads and incredible world-building. Susan Dennard constructs an intricate, intense, and suspenseful story that combines dynamic characters with an elaborate plot (and magic, of course!). Exciting and well-written action sequences create a fast-paced story that takes place in an incredibly complex world. You’ll be captivated start to finish!