1. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
really unique storytelling. beautiful language, prose, and tone. i'm dubious about the young adult classification. if my (hypothetical) teenage child read this, i would want them to be in their upper teens and i would want to talk some of it over with them afterward.
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
a classic. i reread this every few years. still perfect. everyone should read this.
3. Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang
it’s embarrassing that i have a degree in history and had no knowledge about the chinese cultural revolution. my book club chose to read this because it’s on the common core reading lists. it’s informative and maddening and thought provoking and left me wanting to learn more. what more could you ask for in a book?
4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
the first half of the book seems to get a little tedious in places, but once you get to the second half you see everything in a new light and it’s awesome. epic and intricate plotting. also, you learn a little about the history of ballpoint pens.
5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
6. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
full disclosure - young adult dystopian fiction is possibly my favorite genre and will always be well-represented in my reading lists. some novels/series are better than others as far as making parallels to our current situation and provoking thoughtful reflection and discussions - but i almost always enjoy reading them. the Divergent series kept me entertained and i was attached to the characters. perhaps not as thought provoking as others, but very readable. the direction the story went in the third novel completely took me by surprise (and apparently enraged a huge chunk of the fans).
7. Prodigy by Marie Lu
more ya dystopian. second book in a trilogy. this is a really unique series. the author has a background in video game design and it shows (in a good way). militarist and gritty. i really enjoy these books.
8. All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
this book is so enjoyable that you can completely miss the fact that it has some important things to say about mob mentality and the danger of silencing anyone's voice. an easy book to recommend to others.
9. Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
it kept me interested and i’d be willing to read the next installment of the series.
10. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
11. Rebel Heart by Moira Young
12. Raging Star by Moira Young
i really enjoyed the first book of this series. the second two were pretty good, but the first one stands out as the best. kind of a western in the future. the world the author creates is so vibrant you can taste the dirt in your mouth. if you like ya dystopian, you’ll enjoy it. if you don’t . . . probably skip.
13. Under Different Stars by Amy A. Bartol
this was kind of a bizarre book. (well, e-book. it’s only available in e-book format from some weirdo self-publishing website which should have been a sign to me to skip it.) i finished reading it, but the whole time i kept thinking, “why am i finishing this?” the cover is so beautiful it draws you in. don’t be fooled - you’ve got better things to read. i promise.
14. The Selection by Kiera Cass
decent. good enough that i want to read the rest of the series.
15. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancy
second book in a trilogy. these books make me frantic when i read them; heart pounding, fingers with a white-knuckle grip on the covers, reading “just one more chapter.” it’s about an alien invasion, which would normally send me running, but they are so good. cannot wait for the final book.
16. Unenchanted by Chandra Hahn
interesting idea - 10th grade execution. i wish this had been turned over to another writer.
17. Jackaby by William Ritter
i should probably re-read this in a year or so. it’s good, but weird, and i think i missed stuff because it just takes off like a racehorse and never slows down. it was described as dr. who meets sherlock, which was very apt. quirky and mysterious and enjoyable.
18. In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
i don’t know how to describe or categorize this book. historical fiction with supernatural steampunk tendencies - maybe? i totally dug it. it was fun and eerie and kept me guessing. so enjoyable you can miss the fact that you’re learning about the 1918 influenza pandemic and spiritualism frenzy of the time. i’d like to read more from this author.