Thursday, December 29, 2011

Me on Underrated YA Books of 2011

I've read a lot of books this year, some I loved, some I didn't. Some of those books also had a lot of publicity, and some didn't. This is for the books that not a lot of us read, those diamonds in the rough, the lesser-knowns, the ones who didn't end up on best-seller lists but popped up in indie bookstores as staff recommendations. This is for the mid-list authors who tell amazing stories. This is for the single copies sitting alone on the shelf in the bookstore.

First is a list of books I felt were both underrated and under-read this past year, followed by other bloggers and their picks. Feel free to add more in the comments below. :)

My picks:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Possess by Gretchen McNeil
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Falling in Love with English Boys by Melissa Jensen (I'm cheating a little, this book came out late 2010)
Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Entangled by Cat Clarke
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Caitlin at WhatchYAReading suggested Entwined by Heather Dixon.

Cat at Books4Hearts recommends Lena Coakley's Witchlanders.

Ashley at Book Labyrinth suggested Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien, Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker, Karma by Cathy Ostlere, Warped by Maurissa Guibord, and Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer.

Jessica from Shut Up! I'm Reading offered up Pink by Lili Wilkinson.

Liz at Midnight Bloom Reads suggested Holly Schindler's Playing Hurt.

Giselle over at BookNerd was quick to recommend Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield.

2012 debut YA author Kathleen Peacock named Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard. (Also, remember to look for Kathleen's book Hemlock when it comes out in June.)

Kathy at A Glass of Wine has two choices, books I've both read and loved so much. 
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma: "I know most people might be leery of reading this due to the subject matter, but this book really is a must read. It's raw, brutal, heart-breaking and gorgeously written. It's one of those books that rips out your insides, but leaves you aching for more. You won't forget Lochan and Maya's story but that is exactly why you should read it."

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: "You might be saying, "but everyone talked about this book and loved it." Yes, this is true. The blogging community did talk about it and did love it. However, if I were to go to my local bookstore I might find one copy, if I am lucky. This book is so amazing that it really deserves to have a larger audience. Stephanie manages to capture the feeling of  first loves - all the butterflies, insecurity and heartache that comes along with it. Her writing is magical, and leaves you a swooning teenager by the happily ever after ending."
Kelly from KellyVision suggests a book I've never heard of, which is the whole point of this post. :)
The best YA contemporary novel I read this year was The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner. It's clever, sweet and a little sad and is about friendship and love. How could you not love a book like that?
Erica at The Book Cellar recommends the first book in a new series.
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep: this book was the start to an amazing series, filled with wonderful characters, a cool take on mythology and a brilliant plot. I definitely don't feel this one got the attention it deserved! It is one of my new favorite series, and I absolutely just love it!
Salom suggests a rather different sort of book:
Of the new YA I've read this year, The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey is the book that's stayed with me the longest. I'm not super into Victoriana; I hate gore; I don't like books with sad endings. The Isle of Blood has all three elements in spades, and I thought it was fantastic -- sophisticated horror that frightens because of the choices its characters make, not because of the monsters they destroy. If you like a philosophical bent to your uneasiness, this is the book (and the series) for you. Plus, there's a cameo by Rimbaud! How many YA novels can you say have that?
Chandra, in her capacity as the person behind @IndigoTeenBlog discussing everything possible about YA books for ChaptersIndigo, the big box bookstore in Canada, has written a post on her top 10 teen books of 2011. While some of these aren't necessarily underrated, they all made Chandra connect emotionally to them, which means they're worth checking out. You can find her post here. :) One of her big suggestions is Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood.

I hope you enjoyed this, hope you've added some books to your to read list for 2012, and maybe I'll do this again next year. :)


  1. Thanks for doing this! Such a great idea. I am happy to see so many awesome suggestions listed. I picked up Shine due to you talking about it and can't wait to read it.

    You really should do this every year.

  2. Great picks. At the Barnes & Noble close to me Daughter of Smoke and Bone was placed on the Must Read shelf.
    I wish Heather Dixon would write another book. I loved Entwined.

  3. This is such a great post! Thank you for all the wonderful book suggestions that I might never have thought to pick up. I just bought Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Blood Red Road, so I'm glad to see them on your list!

  4. This is such a cool post! I love how you took people's suggestions and made it into a post! Nice job!!

  5. It is interesting to see what's big in the blogging world versus what's big in the actual book market. Some books like Divergent are huge favourites for bloggers and they're highly marketed and sold as well, but it's true that outside of blogging I never would have seen or heard about Stephanie Perkins, or at least not so much. So that's definitely an interesting point!

    I should also add Janet Gurtler to my picks. She is an awesome new voice for contemporary YA, and I'm really looking forward to more of her books. If you like Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott I think you'll like her books.