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My Favorite Books of 2011

January 3, 2012

This is going to be a little different from the typical Best of 2011 list because I’m not very good at limiting myself to recently published books. The first five of these ten books were published in the last two years, but the rest are a bit older. So here we are – the best books I read in the last year:

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth – Easily my favorite of the year, Divergent is a brilliant story about a dystopian future and a girl struggling to find her place in the world. A complex, kick-ass heroine, thrilling action sequences, a fascinating love interest, and a very cool concept put this book at the top of the list and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I can think of.

2. The Legend of the King by Gerald Morris – A fitting end to one of my favorite series. The Squire’s Tales are retellings of Arthurian legends, full of adventure, humor, and romance. The Legend of the King tackles the tragic end of Camelot with the utmost grace. It’s beautiful, sad, and most importantly, full of hope.

3. Plague by Michael Grant – The latest in Grant’s Gone series about a town on the coast of California where everyone over the age of 14 disappears suddenly and the kids are left to fend for themselves. Plague is a thrilling page-turner, just as engrossing as the previous three books.

4. Wren Journeymage by Sherwood Smith – Princes, princesses, pirates, and mages, both good and evil, populate this book, the fourth in a series I loved as a young teen. Wren Journeymage was published many years after the release of the third book, but it’s full of the same adventuresome spirit as the previous books, and I was thrilled to be reunited with the characters I’d loved.

5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – This is a wonderful realistic fiction novel about two very different boys named Will Grayson and their relationships with the large and flamboyant Tiny Cooper. As I wrote in my review, “It’s both funny and painful, light-hearted and serious,” and it’s well worth a read.

6. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – I’m counting both this and the sequel, The Ask and the Answer, as one here. I haven’t yet read the third and final book in the trilogy, but I’m looking forward to getting to it soon. The Knife of Never Letting Go is about a boy named Todd, on the verge of manhood, who lives in a mysterious town where men’s thoughts are broadcast aloud, the speech of animals can be understood by all, and there have been no women for over ten years. It’s a fascinating and unique book, and beautifully written.

7. The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty – The latest of Moriarty’s loosely connected books about the students of Ashbury High. This one tells the story of Emily, Lydia, and Cassie’s final year of high school, during which two mysterious and interesting new students arrive and seem to be at the center of many strange happenings. It’s a mystery, and a love story, and a ghost story of sorts, and I was thoroughly delighted by it.

8. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden – This is the oldest of the books on this list, but a recent find for me and I am thrilled to have discovered this fantastic series about a group of Australian teenagers forced to become guerrilla fighters when their country is invaded by a foreign army. It’s both exciting and thoughtful, and completely gripping from start to finish.

9. The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale – A fun and interesting retelling of a little-known fairy tale, The Book of a Thousand Days follows the story of Dashti, a lady’s maid who is locked in a tower for seven years with Lady Saren, who has just refused to marry the man her father chose for her. It’s a fast-paced story, full of romance and mistaken identities.

10. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan – This is technically more adult than young adult, but I wanted to include it because it was definitely one of my favorite things I read this year. I’m also cheating a little by counting it as one book, when in fact, there are ten volumes in this graphic novel series, but I read them all in such quick succession that they all meld into one in my head. In Unmanned, the first volume, a virus of some kind wipes out every mammal on the planet with a y chromosome. Only women and girls are left alive, except for one man named Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. Yorick’s first priority is to find his girlfriend who is on the other side of the world, but while he’s making his way there with the help of a geneticist and a secret agent, he also needs to help them figure out why he alone survived.

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