I had been planning to write a top five books for young adult books read in 2014, but looking back at my reading list, I didn’t love too many YA titles last year. It was probably in part being a little tired of the genre and wanting to focus on other types of fiction, and getting tired of reading series, which so many YA books are.
1. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (2013). It’s sort of funny that I liked this book because I don’t really like dystopian fiction, or stories about aliens. But, it was paced well and filled with action. I liked the main character, Cassie, a brave, positive lead female character. It features multiple narrators that give interesting takes on the fifth wave.
From the cover: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
2. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (2014). I had been really looking forward to this, as it is the final story of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I loved the first two books, and this one was good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two. It needed some stronger editing and about 100 pages of the over 600 could probably have been cut out, as every time Akiva and Karou got near each other, the same angst kept repeating itself over and over. Still, it was an interesting read, featured continued great worldbuilding, and was a good wrap up for the series. Karou remained a strong heroine and positive role model, unlike other YA novels. I can’t really say much more without giving spoilers. But let’s face it—this series is all about Zuzanna’s one-liners!
Excerpt from the cover: By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz…When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people…From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
3. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (2013). This is just a fun story about teens with special abilities that are recruited by the FBI to use their special powers to solve murders. Each teen has a different talent that they bring to the team, such as reading emotions and spotting deception. It does include the love triangle trope so common in YA fiction, but it doesn’t overwhelm the mystery aspect of the plot. This book has been compared to Criminal Minds on just about every review that I’ve seen, and is am entertaining thriller.
From the cover: Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie. What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length. Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.
Have you read any good YA books lately?