2017 was a big year for me, book-wise.
You see, it was about this time last year that I had a realization: I write Young Adult fiction. You’d think I would know this, but I didn’t. It only took years of reviews labeling my Marked Series as YA, as well as a Bookbub ad in the Teen section rather than the Fantasy section, to finally cue me in.
You see, I hadn’t set out to be a YA fantasy writer, mostly because I didn’t understand what that meant. What is YA fantasy? With contemporary, it’s easy to pick out YA books–they deal with teen issues. But in a fantasy world, an older teen is an effective adult.
Besides, age of character is not a sure-fire measure. I mean, Kvothe is a child and teen, but The Name of the Wind is adult fantasy. Kell is twenty-one years old, yet A Darker Shade of Magic is Young Adult fantasy.
I was confused. I couldn’t understand the difference. And if I am a writer of Young Adult fantasy (which I apparently am), I should probably know what Young Adult fantasy is. Right?
So I set about finding out. By reading A LOT of Young Adult genre fiction, and taking A LOT of notes. I made this a part of my job, set goals, and took my TBR list seriously.
And I learned a lot. Even the books I didn’t much enjoy taught me about the genre, and there were a whole lot of books that I loved. Gushed over. Wanted to tattoo on my heart.
So I decided to do a little round up, to close out the year.
Here are my top 17 reads of 2017:
1.) Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
A fantasy heist story, but also so much more. This little duology stole my heart. Seriously, Kaz, I want my heart back.
2.) Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor
Beautiful, weird, and immersive. Lazlo Strange might be the sweetest, kindest protagonist I’ve ever read. I want to keep him.
3.) The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater
I don’t say this lightly: The Scorpio Races is a perfect book. It’s atmospheric and magical and affecting. I adored it.
4.) Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
This book is about a boy wizard falling in love with his vampire roommate. It’s written my Rainbow Rowell. And so, obviously, it’s amazing.
5.) Shadow & Bone, Leigh Bardugo
Me trying not to fall in love with the villain (HE’S BAD! STOP!), brought to you by the talented Leigh Bardugo.
6.) The Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater
One of my favorite series ever. This thing crawled its way into my chest and pitched a tent. I didn’t love certain things about the conclusion, but the overall journey is still so, so worth taking.
7.) The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer
I thought this might be a one-note story rooted in a neat idea, but it proved to be a surprisingly epic adventure, full of lovable characters, humor, and swoon-worthy romance. *slow clap*
8.) Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor
So funny. So well written. Laini Taylor blows me away every time. I love the importance placed on friendship in this series.
9.) The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
What has Hector ever done to me? Ok, I’m not sure if this one is YA or not, but either way it left me well-marinaded in my own tears. Can’t say more, not without weeping all over my keyboard.
10.) The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson
Watching Elisa change and grow was a pure joy. I was taken aback by the complexity, heart, and nuance in this series. The blurb really doesn’t do it justice.
11.) Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard
Puppy Chow, the books. This series took over my life while I was reading it. In fact, I can’t even say if it was “good” or not, I was too busy devouring it like a bowl of puppy chow for that level of assessment.
12.) Red Rising, Pierce Brown
This book and I got off to a rough start. Actually, I was strongly disliking it. And then only kind-of liking it. But then, slowly, I was invested. By the second book I was wholly smitten. It’s flawed, in my opinion, but this series also stuck with me in a way that most books don’t. It’s the kind of story that you just keep chewing over long after it’s through.
13.) Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore
This book was not only wonderful all on it’s own, but it actually made me retroactively like Graceling more. It’s about a young and inexperienced queen trying to sort through a messy political situation. It’s rare (and refreshing) in these kinds of books for the problems to lack an easy solution. (I also read–and enjoyed–Fire)
14.) A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab
This was the last book I read in 2017, and I haven’t gotten to the sequel yet, but the first installment was very well done. I can’t wait to see where it goes next!
15.) The Black Mage, Rachel E. Carter
This series snuck up on me. The first book held my interest, the second really expanded the top-notch magic system, but the third and fourth…damn. I probably would take issue with certain things that happened in the story, if I weren’t so engrossed that I couldn’t think beyond turning the page.
16.) The Wrath & The Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
A well-done retelling of a classic. I was charmed by the female lead and really enjoyed the texture and flavor of the world. The sequel left me a little underwhelmed, however.
17.) The Remnant Chronicles, Mary E. Pearson
I did not love the beginning of book one, but once the plot gets moving I enjoyed this series. Didn’t much care for the romance, but I loved seeing Lia grow into her own person with her own priorities.
I’ve still got a whole lot of books on my list, and I’m excited to work on my next writing project now that I have a better understanding of the genre.
What are some of your favorite Young Adult novels?