My Top 5 YA Books of 2017

So...2017. It’s been interesting, to say the least. In the book world, so many new novels have been published and many have hit the New York Times bestseller list (some within three weeks of their publication). As a self-proclaimed YA (young adult) book connoisseur, I have enjoyed this year and devoured more books than I could have hoped. Especially after my reading slump plagued 2016 (I only read 15 books – yikes!), reaching and surpassing my reading challenge for 2017 (28/25 books – achieved!) was empowering on levels that are hard to explain. For such a good reading year, there are books that I liked more than others, but there are only a few stories reserved for my coveted top five of 2017 list. Some of these books were not published in 2017. In the spirit of welcoming 2018 and saying hasta-la-vista to 2017, here are my top five YA books of the year!

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Published: January 31, 2017)

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To start off the year, I DEVOURED Caraval. Everything about this novel has me thinking about it even in December! Caraval is one of my favorite books ever. The atmosphere was like slipping into an evening gown made of luxurious black silk. The carnival vibes interwoven with the whimsical— yet mysterious —aspects of magic were enthralling. It, honestly, had me guessing around every corner. When I thought I had the story figured out, I’d be proven wrong. Ms. Garber’s writing was lyrical and captivating, which added to the overall atmosphere of the story. Her characters were well fleshed-out with deep backstories and strong personalities. Scarlett Dragna, the main character and the perspective we read this story from, was #fierceAF. Her younger sister, Tella, was the only character I had problems with. Unfortunately, if I told you why, it would be spoiler-y. The story wraps up beautifully, ending with a cliffhanger that only fuels my desire for the second book in the series, Legendary (expected publication: May 29, 2018). I 100000000% recommend this book to anyone interested in magic, romance, carnival vibes, an eerie aesthetic and a strong female lead!

2. Lament by Alexandra Adornetto (Published: August 30, 2016)

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This book appeared in the recommended bar of my Kindle at just the right time! After finishing Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (see #3), I was in the mood for all things spooky! It was mid-October and Halloween was just around the corner. Originally published under the title Ghost House, Lament details the story of Chloe Kennedy as she spends time with her grandmother at her historic, recently renovated estate in England. Along the way, Chloe must cope with a vengeful ghost, Isobel Reade, vying for the attention of a former lover who wants nothing to do with her. His name is Alexander Reade. He also haunts the estate, but his own agenda is far from vengeful. He merely wants to pass on into the afterlife. This book was not on the same level as Caraval for me, but it was a pleasant surprise. Purchasing it during a Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99 was worth the price. Ms. Adornetto’s writing has evolved drastically from her debut novel, Halo, which I read in middle school. The story was intriguing, if a little cliché at times. Nonetheless, if you’re a junkie for ghost stories whose settings are old mansions (yes, that’s also me), Lament is one of the best books to read for the Halloween season (or any season). Chloe’s snappy wit matched by the creepy atmosphere kept my book hangover at bay! Nonetheless, it’s not for everyone, as I’ve read some reviews where people absolutely despise Chloe’s personality and the story’s cliché aspects. I would recommend this to anyone who needs an easy read after a difficult semester or after reading a hard-hitting story. It’s perfect for a time when you don’t want to focus too much on a heavy, intricate plot. Also, it gave me huge Buzzfeed Unsolved vibes (shout out to all the #Boogaras and #Shaniacs out there). Talk about a bonus!

3. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (Published: September 19, 2017)

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Continuing the train of eerie, spine-tingling novels, Hunting Prince Dracula was one of my most anticipated books of 2017. It is the second novel of its series, so to read this one you must read Stalking Jack the Ripper first. Typically, the problem with sequels is the unfortunate Middle Book Syndrome (or, when the second book doesn’t live up to the first book’s standards). HPD doesn’t struggle from middle book syndrome! Taking place a couple months after the events of the SJTR, HPD takes a new approach to the way forensic science was studied in the 1880s. Audrey Rose Wadsworth, the main character and narrator, is the definition of a strong female lead! Her relationship with Thomas Cresswell is (pun intended) to die for. Ms. Maniscalco’s stories are works of brilliance. Like Caraval, the writing paired with the atmosphere and plot make HPD one of my favorite books of all time. Nonetheless, be warned, this book is very violent and gory. If you aren’t into books showcasing lots of gore and blood, steer clear of this series!

4. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (Published: January 13, 2015)

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Completely deviating from the spooky, Halloween-ish books occupying of the rest of my list, The Conspiracy of Us was another book I read back in January and haven’t stopped thinking about in December. Even though I found the main character to be a teensy-bit naïve, I highly enjoyed the story Ms. Hall tells. The adventures experienced by the characters and their attempts to escape the clutches of a dangerous secret society (basically the Illuminati with a different name: The Circle of Twelve) weaves a story similar to that of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Amidst the other books on my list, reading a story devoid of fantasy and driven by action was a refreshing break. Sometimes a girl just needs a good action & adventure book in her repertoire! The main character, Avery, is slightly childish to begin with but she gets better as the story progresses. The book is targeted towards a late middle/early high school audience, but that doesn’t mean college students can’t enjoy it either. Pick this one up if you’re ready for a scavenger hunt across the globe!

5. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Published: June 5, 2012)

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Returning to the wonderful world of magic, I can’t believe I waited so long to pick up Shadow and Bone. I remember seeing the book on my middle school’s “New Release” shelf back in September of 2012, but I never felt the urge to pick it up. If I’m being honest, I was totally judging the book by its cover, since it was relatively generic and not as eye-catching as other stories published that year. Shadow and Bone was another purchase from a Kindle Daily Deal before my family and I embarked on our East Coast road trip during the summer. For spending so much time in the car with my rambunctious family of six, Shadow and Bone effectively assisted me in keeping my annoyance at bay. The world Ms. Bardugo presents in this novel is soooooooooo immersive and rich! The main character, Alina, had me shaking my head in shame sometimes and praying for her safety at others. She wasn’t the best main character I’ve ever read from the perspective of, but she wasn’t terrible. I often found myself rooting for her when times got tough. Without giving too much away, I LOVED the Darkling (but to tell you why would be delving into spoilers). The problem with writing a review for this book is that its best for the reader to go into it with no clue as to what’s going on. I promise, you’ll catch on fast. Ms. Bardugo effectively explains every aspect of her world and its background. Don’t even read the summary! Like Lament, it was a complete surprise how much I enjoyed it. Honestly, if it wasn’t $1.99, I probably wouldn’t have bought it, which would have been a huge mistake.

So, those are my Top 5 Books of 2017. If any of these books sound interesting, pick them up. I promise they’ll be highly entertaining! Even the reviews I’ve read from people who didn’t like them admit that the stories were intriguing to a certain degree and they were able to finish reading without the feeling of time being wasted. I, personally, can’t wait to see what the 2018 publishing community has in store for its readers. Farewell, 2017! Hello, 2018!

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