Back in January I thought 2013 was going to be tough to beat in terms of great YA but here it is, mid-November, and I just got over the trama of having to narrow down my favorites to a list of 20. Interestingly enough, the last couple of years have had the top picks release in the first half of the year. Typically it's the fall that brings the "big" books, but not so in YA. At the end of the day, and basically the year, I'm still most in love with We Were Liars (as an aside, in our Celebrity Picks Martin Short chose We Were Liars as one of his favorite books this year, too). Below are the top 5 titles for the Best Young Adult Books of 2014:
1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - What can I say, every bit of this short book is beautifully written and this is a story that grabs hold and doesn't let go. Mystery, love, friendship, pain, and most of all beautiful writing fill these pages. I've received middle of the night email from friends I gave We Were Liars to, telling me they just finished (and it's 2 a.m.) and loved it.
2. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer - In her debut YA novel, Belzhar, Wolitzer captures the urgency and larger-than-life feelings of adolescent love, heartbreak and friendship through the story of Jam Gallahue. After a traumatic experience at home, Jam is sent to a boarding school with similarly "damaged" souls and there they uncover truths about themselves and each other. Surprising, observant, and completely absorbing, this is a book you'll want to read straight through.
3. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - The long-awaited follow-up to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was worth waiting for. Out in the world outside their island, Miss Peregrine's charges make their way to London trying to find her before it's too late. The year is 1940, a turmultuous and uncertain time, and what transpires on their journey is harrowing and riveting. Like he did in Miss Peregrine's Riggs includes eerie but perfect vintage photographs throughout the story.
4. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - Twins Jude and Noah tell the story of what happened between the age of thirteen and sixteen, a time when everything changed in their relationship,their family, and themselves. The dual narratives dovetail beautifully, one starting at the beginning and the other moving backwards from where things ended up. I'll Give You the Sun is a powerhouse story of identity, loss, fear, and forgiveness that had me trying to read at stop lights just so I could see what happens next.
5. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor - This third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy sealed it for me--this is one of my favorite YA series. Period. Laini Taylor is an extremely talented writer and in this moment I'm reminded of how it feels to begin one of her books. It feels like you are starting something you won't want to end (and you won't). The end of anything can be tricky, but Taylor knows just how to do it in Dreams of Gods & Monsters, combining new twists with the reappearance of beloved elements of the earlier books. Good and evil, friend or foe, a blue-haired girl and fire-eyed boy--I miss all of it and think I might have to read these again.
You'll find the other 15 books that made 2014 memorable here.