I’ve considered doing book reviews in the past, but I don’t have the heart to negatively review anyone else’s work, so instead I’m just going to tell you about some of the books I really like, and some of the many I am excited to read soon!
Here are a few of the (YA) books I loved in 2017:
WE ARE THE ANTS, by Shaun David Hutchinson
Amazon says: From the “author to watch” (Kirkus Reviews) of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes an “equal parts sarcastic and profound” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.
Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.
Only he isn’t sure he wants to…
This book is presented as science fiction, but it’s really more a contemporary novel, in my opinion. (I spoke with the author at last year’s Virginia Festival of the Book and he was okay with this assessment so I feel it’s fair to post it.) YA Contemporary isn’t my usual go-to genre, so you’d think this realization would have been a let down, but it was not AT ALL. This book is incredible. The voice of the protagonist leaps of the page and wedges itself in your heart. This book made me laugh, made my heart ache, and ultimately changed me for good.
Read it, read it, read it!
THE HATE YOU GIVE, by Angie Thomas
Amazon says: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
If you haven’t read this book yet, why not? Angie Thomas’s debut novel about police brutality and race in America shook up the world and claimed the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list for most of the year.
This book is a nuanced, complex, but approachable, look at some of the most important issues of our time, told from the perspective of a young woman who is thrust into the middle of the debate when her childhood friend is killed during a traffic stop.
It will break your heart, make you think, and have you rooting for Star as she finds her voice and her strength. And if you’ve already read it and loved it, be sure to donate to donorschoose.org where many teachers have requested classroom sets for their students!
THIS MORTAL COIL, by Emily Suvada
Amazon says: In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hacking skills to decode her late father’s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague…
OMG!! If you like dystopians, thrillers, hackers, plot-twists, zombie movies, pandemic movies, or anything even remotely related to any of those things, get this book!
Warning- the first chapter has a moment where you are sure to gasp in horror (don’t read it right before dinner!) but stick with it, because this book is a wild ride of an adventure, with multiple plot twists that will have you yelling, “Nuh uh!!!”
The pulse-pounding excitement of the hunger games, the shriek factor of The Walking Dead, the cyber-wow of The Matrix, and the adrenaline of a book-length car chase- This book has it all!
SAINTS AND MISFITS, by S. K. Ali
Amazon says: There are three kinds of people in my world:
1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.
2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.
Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.
But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?
3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.
Like the monster at my mosque.
People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask.
This book about a Muslim teenage girl figuring out who she is, where she fits, and grappling with the complexities of family, faith, and friendship was so highly recommended that I had to check it out. And you should, too!
THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, by Kayla Olson
Amazon says: Before the war, Eden’s life was easy. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.
Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. And even though Eden has lost everything to them, she refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores…
Another book right up my alley! Kayla’s debut novel takes place in a post climate-change future where the economic underdogs of the world have staged a massive coup to take over the world and seize its resources. The main character and three other girls escape their prison and end up on a strange, mysterious, Lost-inspired island…
Her prose is beautiful, the world is fascinating and twisty, and the book is currently being produced as a movie by Leonardo DiCaprio, so read it now!
EDGE OF CHAOS, by Molly E. Lee
This is New Adult, so it’s a bonus, but read it anyway!
Amazon says: Blake Caster has been in an emotionally abusive relationship with Justin for so long, she can’t tell what is normal anymore, and so she clings to the one thing that is solidly hers—her passion for extreme weather.
Three years into her Meteorology degree, Blake meets professional storm chaser, Dash Lexington, who is as gorgeous as he is daring. Instantly recognizing her passion and skills in analyzing weather data, he makes a spot for her on his tight-knit storm chasing team. Dash and Blake form a fast friendship and it forces her to realize just how toxic her relationship with Justin is. She can’t deny the lightning-worthy chemistry she has with Dash or how her heart stalls every time he gets too close to a tornado…
The debut novel by my wonderful PitchWars mentor, Molly E. Lee, features tornadoes, a girl stuck in a toxic relationship, and a storm chaser who might be able to convince her to take a chance on something greater. If you like romance and tornadoes (um, who doesn’t??) then check it out! And if you love it, you’re in luck, because she has a bunch of other books, too!
What’s next on my TBR (to be read) aka “I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet” list? Here are a few!
Pssssst! This first one is on sale!
…BUT I’LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR IT: PREORDERS
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for an enemy.
“The next big thing in literature and film.”—Ebony
“One of the biggest young adult fiction debut book deals of the year. Aside from a compelling plot and a strong-willed heroine as the protagonist, the book deals with larger themes, like race and power, that are being discussed in real time.”—Teen Vogue
“A remarkable achievement.”—Campus Lately
“Tomi Adeyemi is about to take both the literature and film world by storm.”—Jet
Chills, chills, chills! I am SO EXCITED! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy!
Coming this March, Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel is probably the most-anticipated YA novel of 2018. Tomi is a 2016 PitchWars alum who caused a massive agent feeding frenzy last year before signing with ICM, who then negotiated a three-book deal and a movie deal for her incredible book. I’ve heard reviews from lucky readers who got their hands on early copies, and I can barely resist the urge to steal it from them!
WHAT’S NEXT? EVERY 2017 PITCHWARS BOOK FOR ETERNITY!
The last thing on my list– all the books written by my fellow 2017 PitchWars Mentees, who are poised to burst onto the stage in the near future. I’ve already read a half dozen of them and trust me-the world is in for a treat when these books hit the bookshelves in 2019, 2020, and beyond! (Publishing is slow, guys.) Don’t worry, I will definitely post about them as they make their way into book stores near you, so stay tuned!