Best of 2016: YA Book Madness’ Top 16 YA Reads

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve done so much that I never thought I would with writing and making blogger/author friends. Through all the chaos I’ve read some amazing books (though not all of them got reviewed). Last year I broke my top picks into categories. This year, I’ve decided to do an overall top 16 and then into broad categories. Tell me if you’ve read any on my list, what you thought, and feel free to recommend some of your top 2016 YA books!!!

BEST OF 2016 YA OVERALL 

BEST of 2016 SCIENCE FICTION

BEST of 2016 CONTEMPORARY

BEST of 2016 HORROR

BEST of 2016 THRILLER

BEST of 2016 PARANORMAL 

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

review

3/5 Stars

+++Contains graphic violence, grotesque imagery, self-inflicted mutilation, and scenes that could be disturbing to some readers. 

I loved Daughters Unto Devils so when I saw The Women in the Walls I was gleeful. It felt like a lovely early Christmas present for my horror-obsessed little heart. Then I started reading. I waited. And waited. And waited some more for something to happen and finally it did, but it took ages. The pacing is slow. So much so that the tension doesn’t build like it should. Scenes that should have sucked all the air out of the room with the sheer creepiness of what was going on fell flat and missed their mark entirely in some places. 

The setting didn’t quite fit with the story. The Women in the Walls read like a Gothic novel, but was set (I’m assuming because of a few-very few-references) in present time. There were so many details that were left out. It bugged me that I had no clue how old the main characters were. All we know is that they are not legal adults. I was at a loss for what Lucy looked like. Descriptions of people were sparse. Apart from Lucy’s habit of self-mutilation, we really know nothing about her hobbies, her interests, her friendships, nothing. There are measly references to her mother, and some moderately detailed memories of her and Penelope, but that’s it. Lucy’s closeness to Margaret was stressed throughout, but there are no flashbacks, no nostalgia, and certainly no friendly interactions as the story evolves. If anything, they look like enemies. It’s hard to invest in their relationship when it felt as though it was never there to begin with. 

What Amy Lukavics excels at is those spine-tingling, chilling images that are blunt and brutal and made of nightmares. The horror is grotesque, packs a punch, and so bizarre that it takes a second for it to process and then, boom. I said this about Daughters Unto Devils as well, this would make a fantastic scary movie. Some statements are disturbing on levels that sink their teeth into you and keep going, gnawing at your thoughts. I can’t get them out of my head and that shows you how powerful those scenes are. 

The ending. The bulk of the horror happens in the last 15 or so percent of the book. What gets you is the anticipation. You know something terrible is coming. Something so bad that you persevere and wade through the slowness. Will it be paranormal? Will it be bloody? Will Lucy make it to the end of the book? What happened? All of these questions nag and plague and will drive you mad with need. I had to know. I pushed and fought and when I got there…

Holy plot twist. That’s some next level horror. The clues are minimal. You might expect it a little, but the full extent of what happens-never. 

That finale. The gore is enough to keep you awake for days. Read it with the lights on. You were warned. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Hypnotic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Daughters Unto Devils-Amy Lukavics

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synWhen sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Harlequin:Teen

+++Contains: Mature themes, gore, graphic imagery, and what may be considered triggers- miscarriage 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for something chilling and unexpected
  • You’re not afraid of disturbing images, gore, and/or devils
  • You like M. Night Shyamalan 

Daughters Unto Devils would make a terrifying horror film. Amy Lukavics has perfected the use of blunt and abrasive images that are just enough to shock and haunt. There’s no need for explanation or excessive description, the brutally detached imagery will give you goosebumps. 

PROS:

  • Amanda has a profound and stunning voice. She voices her dark and twisted thoughts, voicing them, letting herself accept that her deepest desires are not always pure or even remotely nice. Amanda admits to herself that she’s morbid, sinful and a little insane. That she owns it makes it 10x more compelling. Sometimes her thoughts are sickening and startling, that someone could wish harm and death on others if pretty off-putting but Amanda’s candidness with herself (and some self loathing) almost make her more likable. She’s hardly perfect, far from it, but she sees the world for the vile and rotten place it can be, she picks up on darkness when others are oblivious, mainly because she has it tucked so close inside her. 
  • Spine-tingling, hair on edge images that blur the line between paranoia and reality, there’s something sinister in the simple images. The scenery is bleak and haunting. The snippets of ghost stores and memories that may or may not be real add an air of suspicion. You won’t know of they’re insane, paranoid or possessed until the last moment.
  • Twists that will leave you reeling.
  • One scene in particular was Excorist-worthy terror at its finest. 

CONS:

  • Some sections are slow and drag quite a bit when there’s not something sinister on the horizon. 
  • The whole situation with Henry and the Amanda is naïve and sort of grotesque. The descriptions of bulges and writhing were too much for me. Amanda’s wild-eyed wonder at this man was understandable at first but after everything that happens to have her still hoping that he’d accept the situation was crazy.
  • What happened in the cabin, the clues and tidbit scenes were spaced far apart and didn’t go into enough detail to truly capture the hysteria. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Spooky reading, 

Jordan