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

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ARC Review: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

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What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

PROS:

  • Here’s what I loved: Realistic depictions of that crushing and unsettling loss when best friendships dissolve over time. That heartbreaking moment when you realize that when turning points in life happen, friends, no matter how true, sometimes are changing just as much as you are and that the result isn’t always going to mesh with the new “you” you’ve become. Sometimes, as we grow, we need space, and that space is not always surmountable. It’s tough, and brutal, and unfortunate, but true. There were points where I wanted to dislike certain characters, but it’s easy to see where they’re coming from. When you only see one side of the story, the whole spectrum of feelings and emotions on the other side are just poignant. That letter. Harsh, and bittersweet, but oh so honest. 
  • The premise is fantastic. There’s a whole lot going on and it’s super shady, it puts all the corruption that can happen in cities when it comes to money and land into perspective and may just open some eyes. The opening of the story is AMAZING. Just enough mystery and crazy to drag you in and leave you thirsting for more. Who is that boy? Why are their houses under water? What is this pseudo-Atlantis happening? 
  • What I like about Keeley is that she’s imperfect and real. She makes terrible, horrible, selfish mistakes, and despite how she lies to herself, they aren’t always made of good intentions. Keeley chooses to push her feelings aside and shuck off reality in order to have a good time. When faced with the absolute certainty of what stands in front of her, she has to reevaluate everything she is and who she hopes to become. Truly an insightful coming of age novel. Keeley is also funny, loud, aggressive, and awkward…which sometimes reads as juvenile, but charming. It’s hard to dislike her. 

CONS:

  • The organization and pacing were off. Apart from the epic intro, things sort of fizzled out and became a quest for a somewhat silly romance and fallout. It seemed to start with a climax and end with disaster, the middle was hard to sludge through and oh so slow. 
  • The story felt sporadic and random, like it didn’t know what exactly it was trying to be. The romantic elements felt a little monotonous and not really exciting. Keeley and Jesse are…okay. While it did give off that rush of a first crush and the butterflies when he starts to notice, it was almost too easy and fell into place so fast that it made you wonder why it didn’t happen sooner and if it were worth it in the first place. 
  • The whole thing with the principal. I don’t get it. It felt like random animosity inserted with little reason and it distracted from the rest of what was going on. 

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

 Interesting reading, 

Jordan

Review: Burn for Burn-Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

3/5 Stars

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)-Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 

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Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. -William Congreve 

Plot: Burn for Burn is the age-old didactic tale of a woman scorned, or more simply, a story of revenge. Lillia, Kat, and Mary are girls from different social classes, levels of popularity, and home lives but they have one thing in common, the dangerous rage and thirst for vengeance after they’d been wronged. The story is told from three perspectives:

Lillia is one of the most popular, beautiful, likeable girls in school. She’s genuine, caring, and yet is trapped; she’s surrounded by the stereotypical mean girl-her best friend Rennie, a cheerleader-the jocks, and the typical bobble head other friend Ashlin. Up until this point, Lillia realizes that she’s made some mistakes in the past, one that she regrets more than anything (I don’t blame her), and starts to question whether her friendship with Rennie is worth it. When she finds out her baby sister Nadia got drunk and had a sleepover at Alex’s (her best guy friend) she feels more than betrayed, she feels raw, bruised, and wants nothing more than to get him back for taking advantage of her sweet, naïve little sister.

Kat use to be best friends with Lillia and Rennie until they dropped her and started treating her like she had the plague-i.e. poverty. Kat resents the abrupt way they left her behind in the dust, rose to popularity, and Rennie goes out of her way to spread atrocious, catty rumors about her. Kat wants payback for all the hate she’s suffered at the hands of her former BFFs and she plans on mercilessly dealing out punishment.

Mary is the same age as Kat and Lillia, use to live on the island but after a traumatic experience moves to the mainland for serious therapy, and is set back a year in school. Mary returns to the island years later to face her demons of the past, hoping to shove the new her down the throat of her tormentor. But as she settles down into high school life, he doesn’t even recognize her. This wounds her more than anything else. After all the pain, the torture he inflicted on her self-esteem that he would forget her was something she could not handle.

Teaming up with Lillia and Kat, Mary and the girls discover just how far they’re willing to go to make sure those who have wronged them get what’s coming to them, learn a little about themselves, and are able to transcend social hierarchies to find common ground with their strange partners in crime.

PROS:

  • Kat has an interesting, quirky personality with a sarcastic, fiery attitude that will have you rooting for her. Her creativity in coming up with the revenge plots is truly wicked. Kat also has a broken, sad past that is occasionally shown that reveals the deep scars the cold shoulder her BFFs gave her left.
  • There is a little something for everyone. The girls are relatable on many levels, and the bad experiences they’ve had become a shared hurt that is transcended by their partnership in their quest for revenge. Bullying, drunken mistakes, and changes in friendships that seem out of the blue, and without explanation are all something that most of us have dealt with on some level. Although revenge is probably not the best way to cope, sharing experiences with others is therapeutic in itself.
  • This is definitely a story of girl power, of unity, of overcoming the past, and learning who you want to become as an adult.
  • The fact that this is not a love story allows the focus to be on the development of these three girls, and really opens up exploration into their psyches.
  • Mary is such a tragic, heartbreaking character. Her pain, her blind hope, and recovery is reason enough to enjoy this book, and is inspiring to those of us who have been severely bullied, especially by those who we considered friends.

CONS: 

  • The semi-supernatural aspect was unnecessary, and detracted from the overall theme. Too Carrie.
  • There were a few typos.
  • Lillia is too soft, she puts up with the taunting, and snarky attitudes from her popular friends who she doesn’t even like just to be popular? For someone who is so self-righteous, and known as a good person, going along with the rude, nasty nature of her friends, and watching them victimize others makes her just as guilty.
  • All of the girls make assumptions based on little evidence, and react childishly.

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

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Happy reading,

-BB