Monday, December 9, 2019

YA Guy Presents... His 2019 Top 10!

Confession time: YA Guy didn't read as much YA this year as usual. There's a long story behind that, but here's the short version:

  1. I was working on two distinct book-length manuscripts, which cut into my reading time.
  2. In honor of my dad, who died in November 2018, I decided to read some of the books he'd loved. He tended toward epic-scale historical novels, so that left less time for YA.
But there's a happy ending to both of these stories: I did complete both manuscripts (one of which will be published in 2020, the other in 2021), and I felt closer to my dad after reading Giants in the Earth, Doctor Zhivago, and other similar classics.

And there's even more good news--I did read enough YA (and MG) in 2019 to compile a Top 10 list. In no particular order, here goes!

Jonathan Auxier, Sweep. The story of a girl who works as a chimney sweep in London, this multi-award-winning book showcases Pittsburgh author Auxier at his magical, whimsical best.

Jamie Beth Cohen, Wasted Pretty. A YA novel for the #MeToo generation, this book tells the story of a teenage girl's sexual assault by a family friend. The voice of the protagonist glows with honesty, authenticity, and acerbic wit.

Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl, Merged. What could possibly go wrong when the minds of dying geniuses are merged with those of teen hosts? (Hint: a lot!)

Clare Di Liscia, Neliem. A swashbuckling fantasy romance with a kick-butt heroine who, unlike so many in the sub-genre, genuinely merits the title.

Nick Courage, Storm Blown. Another Pittsburgh author (born and raised in New Orleans), Courage delivers a pulse-pounding hurricane saga told from the perspectives of the children--and animals--caught up in the storm.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer. Not exactly YA though narrated by a teenage slave, this meticulously crafted debut novel by the National Book Award winner is slow but exquisite and powerful.

Cadwell Turnbull, The Lesson. Another not-really-YA with several YA-aged characters, this debut science fiction novel set in the U.S. Virgin Islands during an alien invasion features a wonderful sense of place along with a historically rich examination of slavery and colonialism.

Mindy McGinnis, Heroine. "Harrowing" doesn't begin to do justice to this novel about an injured high school athlete's descent into opioid addiction.

Jessica Khoury, Last of Her Name. An outer-space retelling of the Anastasia story, with a cast of humanoid species, romance aplenty, and one of the most mind-blowing alien intelligences you'll find in all of sci-fi, YA or otherwise.

Joshua David Bellin, House of Earth, House of Stone. Book Three in the Ecosystem Trilogy. Soon to be Book Three in the four-part Ecosystem Cycle!

That's all for now, folks. I look forward to more great books in 2020!