Best YA Books of 2015

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Although some controversy erupted (Is it, in fact, okay for adults to read YA? Some thought not.2015 was a great year for young adult literature. Here at HPL, we firmly believe in the value of literature aimed at every age and encourage reading in every incarnation. From fantasy, to graphic novels, to sci-fi, to romance, to nonfiction, here are our picks for the best young adult/teen literature that came out in the last year!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

Corporations are at war over a planet that's little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra--who just broke up that morning--are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet's AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what's really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it's clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents--including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more-- Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

A bag of chips. That's all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad's pleadings that he's stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad's resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad's every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins--a varsity basketball player and Rashad's classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan--and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. And the basketball team--half of whom are Rashad's best friends--start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer, in this sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch...she's falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda​ by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out--without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.

Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story--wrapped in a geek romance--is a knockout of a debut novel

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price--and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.

 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images. Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. 

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, National Book Award winning novel Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force.

Death and Life of Zebulon Finch: Volume One, At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus

A murdered teen is resurrected to walk the earth for centuries in this sweeping historical epic in the spirit of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

May 7, 1896. Dusk. A swaggering seventeen-year-old gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down by the shores of Lake Michigan. But after mere minutes in the void, he is mysteriously resurrected.

His second life will be nothing like his first.

Zebulon's new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares--and from poverty--in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.

Love, hate, hope, and horror--Zebulon finds them. But will he ever find redemption? Ambitious and heartbreaking, The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At the Edge of Empire is the epic saga of what it means to be human in a world so often lacking in humanity.

Everything Everything by Nicole Yoon

"My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I'm allergic to the world. I don't leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black--black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster."

If you love Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Augustus, and Mia and Adam, you'll love the story of Maddy, a girl who's literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she's ever taken. This innovative and heartfelt debut novel unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself--a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson

National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson delivers a brilliant and riveting account of the Siege of Leningrad and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony. 

In September 1941, Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history--almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943-1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and--eventually--one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens--the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power--and layered meaning--of music in beleaguered lives. 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson 

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

 

 

--Carrie T., Central Library

Comments

I like the story of Everything Everything by Nicole Yoon. very inspiring story thank for sharing.

You're welcome! Don't forget to get your personal reading list from HPL http://houstonlibrary.org/get-your-personal-reading-list for more great books!

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