Saturday, November 24, 2018

YA Guy Lists... His 2018 Top Ten!

Here's the bad news: YA Guy didn't read much this year. As discussed in a previous post, I took a bit of a hiatus from reading in 2018, my hope being that this would free up time for my own writing.

Here's the good news: it worked. I produced two novels in 2018 (both of them already published), plus a collection of short stories (also published). Two additional novels are in the final stages of revision, and should be published next year. So that's all very exciting for me personally.

And here's the even better news: I didn't stop reading entirely during 2018. I read what I needed to for the classes I taught, as well as reading a few novels that were recommended to me (including Nabokov's truly bizarre Pale Fire, recommended by, of all people, my fifteen-year-old son). I also read some YA novels--nowhere near the fifty or so I've been reading each of the past few years, but enough to produce a Top 10 List.

And so, without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:

S. A. Bodeen, THE TOMB. If you've read any of Bodeen's previous novels--including her acclaimed THE COMPOUND--you know she likes to play with your mind. THE TOMB does that in a big way, and in the service of a gripping sci-fi narrative.

Parker Peevyhouse, THE ECHO ROOM. Peevyhouse impressed me a couple of years ago with her debut WHERE FUTURES END, a collection of linked short stories that fused magic with dystopian science fiction. THE ECHO ROOM is even better, a literary Escape Room with a twist you'll never see coming, even when you're sure you see it coming.

Fonda Lee, CROSS FIRE. This sequel to EXO, about an alien colonization of Earth and the human factions that develop to contest (as well as support) it, is my favorite novel so far by my favorite YA science fiction writer. If you don't read this two-part series, you're missing something truly exceptional.

Lisa Maxwell, THE DEVIL'S THIEF. Every bit as good as its predecessor THE LAST MAGICIAN, this complexly plotted, densely peopled, mind-bending historical fantasy proves beyond a doubt that Maxwell is one of the most talented and inventive YA writers of this or any time.

Eliot Schrefer, ORPHANED. The concluding book in Schrefer's "Ape Quartet," each of which focuses on a young person's relationship with one of the four great apes--bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas--this book imagines the meeting of prehistoric gorillas and humans due to a changing volcanic landscape. It's told from the gorilla MC's point of view, and it's a satisfying conclusion to one of the best YA series I've ever read.

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, OBSIDIO. I'll admit that the graphic pyrotechnics of this third book in the Illuminae series are nowhere near as excitingly radical as they were in the first book, and the endless teen-snarky emails are a bit wearying. But this is still a solid ending to a revolutionary series that suggested all kinds of new directions for YA science fiction.

Erica Cameron, WAR OF STORMS. The third installment in Cameron's epic fantasy The Ryogan Chronicles, this book wraps up a story and a world so immersive, so fully realized, you'll believe you're actually there. Read the books in order to get the full experience, starting with ISLAND OF EXILES and then SEA OF STRANGERS.

Thomas Sweterlitsch, THE GONE WORLD. This is the one book on the list that isn't YA, but I couldn't resist, because any book by Pittsburgh author Sweterlitsch is a major event. His first novel, TOMORROW AND TOMORROW, is set in large part in a virtual Pittsburgh that's all that remains after the real city is destroyed in a terrorist nuclear attack; THE GONE WORLD takes place in a variety of (possible) futures where a military investigator travels to try to unravel a shocking crime from the present. Both books are wildly imaginative, beautifully written, and mind-bendingly original works of science fiction.

Joshua David Bellin, ECOSYSTEM and THE DEVOURING LAND. My own books, the first two in a three-part series, tell the story of a future Earth in which the physical environment has developed into a sentient, and predatory, being. I decided to self-publish the series so I could realize a vision I've had for many years, and I couldn't be happier with the results. Look for the final book in the trilogy, titled HOUSE OF EARTH, HOUSE OF STONE, in early 2019.

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