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 Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

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Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

review

4/5 Stars 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You like Red Queen, The Young Elites, An Ember in the Ashes or The Winner’s Curse
  • You like dark and twisted rulers
  • You’re patient and like space sagas

The Diabolic is an engaging, twisted, and complex read. Packed with threats that will chill you to the bone, heartless rulers, and unexpected heroes, The Diabolic is a pleasant surprise. 

PROS:

  • I loved Nemesis. She’s complex, conflicted, and courageous. Torn between what she’s been told her entire life about inability to feel and the emotions that rise up in her, Nemesis resists with all her might and yet, asks herself some seriously profound questions about the nature of feeling, whether created creatures can have souls, and if they get an afterlife. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking. When Nemesis thinks of all that’s been taken from her simply by being made Diabolic-chills. Nemesis is relatable, which is crazy because she’s far from the average girl/teen, but her struggle to figure out all the feels raging through her and where she belongs in society, that is something everyone goes through. Nemesis is loyal, so loyal that she’s willing to sacrifice everything for Sidonia. That kind of love can spark a revolution. 
  • The ending. OMG the last half of the book. Packed with action, twists, turns, and general insanity.
  • Secondary characters are all shades of awesome and despicable. The married couple are complete sadists and generally disgusting human beings. The evil is strong in this story, so strong it will make you sick. Just when you think people can’t possibly get worse-WRONG. 
  • The chemistry. It’s wave your hand in front of your face because you’re on fire-hot. Though sudden and spaced out, there’s something about these two. No spoilers. 
  • That intro scene. It’s brutal and informative and sucks you right it. It might just be one of my favorite book openings ever. 

CONS:

  • The world building was slow to start, lacked clarity, and took a while to establish itself. In a world where politics reign supreme, a more thorough insight into the rivalries, the importance of each region, and the differences between those who live on stations and those who live on planets would have helped magnify the dire situation and made a stronger emotional impact.
  • Occasionally, the story felt formulaic, like it could have easily fit into another book, so much so that a few plot points were expected and therefore, predictable. 

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

Read on, 

Jordan

Review: Insignia-S.J. Kincaid

4.5/5 Stars

Insignia (Insignia, #1)-S.J. Kincaid

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“Gruesome murder always builds the foundation for a beautiful friendship.”

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“Nah. Ugly. Face it, Tom,” Vik said, “no girl who fights like that can be hot, too. It would cause a huge imbalance in the cosmos that would unravel the space-time continuum and make the universe implode. And she won’t show you. That’s a red flag. Big, bright, waving red flag.”

Plot: Tom Raines is not your average hero. Living day by day in a downwardly spiraling series of virtual gaming, cons, and making just enough money to stay off the streets, and support his father’s dangerous gambling addiction, Tom yearns for stability, and finds solstice in the virtual world. In virtual games, Tom is more than a gawky, awkward, 14-year-old misfit with acne, he is a mastermind at beating the system. When Tom is approached by the Intrasolar Forces and offered a place as a new recruit he thinks that this could be his chance to truly make something of himself, to have a secure future.

In the midst of WWIII, the Earth is depleted of resources and war is now fought between big corporations in outer space, hoping to enterprise off of the rich minerals and substances of other planets. The Intrasolar Forces is a government special force that virtually fights for these corporations in epic battles that amount to the fate of planet Earth. These teens go through a series of training and simulations to prepare them as fighters in this virtual battle field. There are political bribes, and shadow wars between countries for space property. The biggest, best fighters are renown as saviors of humanity. Tom hopes to rise in rank, and make it to the virtual big leagues. Tom has always been wary of the government because of his cynical, jaded childhood with his broken father but has followed the war, eagerly rooting for the most creative fighters. Tom’s favorite is Medusa, and he endeavours to meet her. He doesn’t know how he knows she’s a female, but he’s almost positive.

Tom meets with Medusa and their relationship continues to blossom into a secret friendship that may or may not be illegal. But the danger is part of its seduction. Meanwhile, Tom builds friendships, and learns that though he gets in trouble for his insubordination, it’s one of his strongest assets.

Insignia follows Tom on his quest to be more than a homeless, geeky loner, to use his skills to save humanity, and maybe even get a girlfriend.

PROS:

  • The chemistry between characters is so easy, completely natural, and some of the best realistic dialogue I’ve seen. It’s witty, fun, sarcastic, and hysterically funny. Their interactions are relaxed, a flurry of teasing, and playfulness that draw you in and make it hard not to smile. Their fierce loyalty to one another even in the face of expulsion from the program or imprisonment is touching.
  • [SPOILERY, stop now!] Tom and Medusa are perfect for one another. Their blossoming relationship is laid back, fun, full of competitive, aggressive attraction and reckless abandon for the rules. Their secret meetings are some of the most compelling, creative scenarios in the book.
  • The premise of Insignia is innovative, ingenious, and has a little something for everyone. The idea that wars would be fought in the future through simulations off Earth to protect the environment, and minimize the casualties of war is a beautiful, really inspiring concept. Plus, the virtual reality, code writing, hacking, and mental training is wickedly awesome. This takes the dangers of technology to a whole new level, and makes them even more fascinating, and astounding than they already are.
  • Gaming itself as a complex arena of sponsorship, manipulation, money, and a go-between for shark-like corporate powers is as thrilling as it is evil. The lengths that these world powers will go to get the most talented gamers on their side is sickening and yet, surprising believable. The corruption is slimy, and repulsive but one of the most realistic aspects of the system.

CONS: 

  • The superficial emphasis on attractiveness was a little annoying. There are elements of clichéd, high school drama within the training facility but generally, the characters transcend their stereotypes, those who don’t are the enemy characters. The makeover is also a bit much.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB