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Teenreads Reviewers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2018

Reviewer Picks

Teenreads Reviewers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2018

There's no better way to start an argument with self-proclaimed book nerds than to ask "what is the best YA book of 2017?" We decided to get our lovely reviewers and Teen Board members involved in the debate by asking them to tell us a few of their favorites. See below for their picks and a few fun quotes. Do you agree with their choices? 
 

REVIEWERS

Maya Gittelman

  • STRANGE GRACE, by Tessa Gratton --- lush, queer, atmospheric magic!
  • LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT, by Becky Albertalli --- I hoped it would do Leah justice and match up to how much I love SIMON VS, and it 100% did!
  • THE LADY'S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee --- another sequel just as important, fun and feminist as the first! Also, lady pirate girl gang YES.
  • THE BELLES, by Dhonielle Clayton --- a whole revolution, decked out in flowers. I cannot wait for the next.
  • BRUJA BORN, by Zoraida Córdova --- badass brujas, girls making messy choices with the power they wield, intricate magic and zombie boyfriends. LOVE.
  • THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, by Emily X. R. Pan --- gorgeous and heartful in so many ways. Such a necessary, innovative book.
  • FOR A MUSE OF FIRE, by Heidi Heilig --- intricate, anti-colonialist fantasy full of music and magic and a very refreshing protagonist.
  • AFTER THE SHOT DROPS, by Randy Ribay --- a powerful novel that comes from too-often-unheard perspectives.
  • GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE, by Natasha Ngan --- magic and queer Asian girls fighting rape culture and the patriarchy! This was such a glory and vindication to read and I cannot wait for the sequel!
  • ALL OUT, ed. Saundra Mitchell --- an anthology of queer teen voices throughout history! I've ached for this book all my life and it was so glorious to read!

 

Katherine Szabo

 

Brianna Robinson

  • BRAZEN: REBEL LADIES WHO ROCKED THE WORLD by Penelope Bagieu- I am forever grateful for the women I read about in these stories, for blazing ahead in their fields, for their bravery and courage to do what no women or man had done before. Brilliantly illustrated, Penelope shared the stories of women who lived unsung lives for the most part, maybe even swallowed by history or lesser known from their male counterparts.
  • CHECK , PLEASE: #HOCKEY by Ngozi Ukazu - I didn’t know I wanted a book about an openly gay baking hockey player until I read this. I fell in love with the camaraderie, the hilarity and the fun of this book.
  • THE LADY'S GUIDE TO PEDICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee - Stunning, adventurous tale of friendship and bravery by one of my favorite authors.
  • SADIE by Courtney Summers - This book was heartbreaking and important. Perfect, amazing, well-written but soul crushing in a way that needs to be discussed and shared.
  • BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy - Like SADIE and BRAZEN, this book was important, shedding light on a young women who deserves better recognition in history. Told in poetry, this book was stunning and also heartbreaking. But necessary and gorgeously told.

 

Jena Brown

  • TO KILL A KINGDOM By Alexandra Christo - Sirens. Pirates. Forbidden love. Treachery and Betrayal. This incredible debut follows Lira, a siren cursed to be human until she can bring her mother the prince’s heart. And Elian. Siren hunter. Pirate. Sometimes he’s also a Prince. Their paths cross, enemies who want the same thing. The only question is who wants it more. The writing is fantastic, with sharp sentences like pointed daggers. A dark fantasy that is incredibly rich.
  • CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi - This debut is simply stunning. A king stole their magic, determined to keep them down. In a race against a fanantic Prince, in collusion with a rebellious princess, Zelie has one chance to bring magic back to her people, or lose it forever. An incredible story that shows us the power of self-discovery. Woven into the book are the historic issues of slavery, colonialism and the reality of being a conquered culture. Adeyemi also brings to light more modern issues of such as racism, cultural disparity and societal bias. It’s breath-taking and raises valuable discussions, which makes it so incredibly important.
  • SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young - Get ready for all the girl power in this book! Eelyn is a fierce Viking warrior, intent on avenging her brothers death by the hands of a rival clan. But when she thinks she sees him in battle, she turns away from her the fight and chases his ghost. This book shows us an incredibly violent and brutal world that reads from the pages of our own history. More than that though, we see how hatred is born and bred, nurtured over time and passed down through generations. We see that cycle become challenged and the difficulty it is to break. It’s also amazing to read books with women warriors as incredibly tough as Eelyn.
  • MAYFLY by Jeff Sweat - One of my favorite dystopians of the year, Mayfly is a chilling glimpse into a very believable future. Just like that, all the adults died. Taken out by a plague that affects only those over seventeen. Unfortunately, it’s still lurking, ensuring death to everyone approaching that dreaded age. The world building in this is spectacular, with modern references rewritten to make sense in a lost and far off future. The language, the context, the detail all blend together to create a thrilling experience. This is an examination into how myths and legends are created, and the execution is absolutely brilliant.
  • LIFEl1k3 by Jay Kristoff - If there’s one thing I swoon for, it’s smart science fiction. In this fantastic story, we see the devastating effects of both climate change and technology in a future that is as terrifying as it is realistic. Evie, a girl who can control electronics, finds herself fleeing for her life with her best friend. Chased by horrifying AI with more enemies popping up at every turn, this book will have you on the edge of your seat with stunning plot twists and an ending that will rip out your heart.
  • WHEN ELEPHANTS FLY by Nancy Richardson Fischer - This is one of the most beautiful and profound stories I’ve read this year. Lily lives in constant fear that she will follow her mothers footsteps and develop schizophrenia. She has structured her life to avoid almost all stress, hoping to eliminate anything that could trigger symptoms. But when a baby elephant bonds with her, she faces a choice. Such an amazing glimpse at mental illness, the long lasting effects of trauma, recovering from the wounds of our past and facing the uncertainty of our future. This book is all about love, acceptance, friendship and above all, finding yourself.
  • SADIE by Courtney Summers - If you read one YA book this year, make it this one. This book is an immersive experience. Told from the view point of Sadie while she hunts down her sister’s killer, and a podcast, trying to trace Sadie’s last known whereabouts. This book is visceral and real and incredibly raw. There are extremely difficult subject matters tackled, so readers should be aware going in. But the messages of love and hope, while raising real life awareness on issues that impact a profound number of young adults today, is one that should not be missed.
  • BENEATH THE CITADEL by Destiny Soria - Looking for a fantasy book filled with malarkey, mischief and an amazing  cast of diverse characters? Look no further, because it’s here! Join Cassa and her fellow band of misfit rebels as they find themselves desperate to prove that the council needs to be overturned. But when seers and prophecies determine the future and the truth is a thing to be manipulated, the question quickly becomes if they can stay alive long enough for it to matter. Tackling issues such as child abuse, PTSD, anxiety, sexuality and more, this book will take you on an incredible journey.
  • WORDS WE DON'T SAY by K.J. Reilly - A stunning contemporary that reads like a modern day Catcher In The Rye. We are thrown into Joel Higgin’s head, quite literally. I love, love, love how the prose is written, with long sentences that ramble, but follow exactly the way our thoughts tumble in our heads. The story moves forward and is so tender, raw and emotional that your heart will ache with Joel’s as we discover the reasons he can’t send the text messages he’s always typing. The message that your own pain is valid, even in the face of someone else’s, or the world at large, is such an important one for teens to hear.
  • SAWKILL Girls by Claire LeGrand - If there’s one thing I am an absolute sucker for, it’s good horror. Add in an incredible feminist message and I am hooked! Sawkill Girls is incredibly chilling, with evil lurking in the forest and a history of girls disappearing, Marion’s sister is the newest victim to this shocking crime. But Zoe suspects that evil is closer than anyone imagines. And Val is the mysterious beauty who Marion can’t stay away from. But their only hope is to work together, facing their own doubts and insecurities, while putting aside their own complicated histories. Or none of them have any hope at all. A book that finally goes beyond mean girl tropes or cliche horror, this book will keep you up all night in all the best ways!

 

Dana Cuadrado

 

Jeanna Michel

  • REIGN THE EARTH by A.C. Gaughen: Filled with in-depth characters, heart-pounding action, and superb world building, REIGN THE EARTH is the book you need to read next.
  • SWEET BLACK WAVES by Kristina Perez: This book takes you on a beautiful journey with an inspiring and strong female lead. The magical elements, gorgeous imagery, and heartbreaking story makes for a great start to a series.
  • THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US by Katy Upperman: This is told half in verse and half in prose. This wonderfully-told romance will leave you speechless!
  • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE by Cori McCarthy: This one was such a surprise; it was heartwarming and lovely and I want more! And it's set in Ireland, so what more could I want?
  • WAR STORM by Victoria Aveyard: I had a stomach ache from all the stress this book gave me. The ending was both final, yet open ended enough to make your own theories. It was truly superb; an epic conclusion.
  • THE WREN HUNT by Mary Watson: New favorite! I was a bit hesitant about this one because I don’t really read books about witches anymore. But this was so much more than a witch book. It has masterful world building and amazing, developed characters.
  • SADIE by Courtney Summers: If you love thrillers or podcasts, definitely give this one a go. Better yet, read SADIE via audiobook. It has a full cast: told half in podcast and half in narrative. It’s intense, dark, and bone-chilling.
  • WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE by Anna Godbersen: It's the book we have all been waiting from Anna Godbersen. She takes fact from history and fictionalizes it into a romance that will set your heart aflame.
  • DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram: This book was such a gem. It follows Darius who travels to Iran with his family to go see his ailing grandfather. It's such an important and powerful coming of age story!
  • HONOR AMONG THIEVES by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre: This book was so out of my comfort zone but the magnificent world building, unforgettable characters, and an unconventional relationship between a human and an alien had me loving every second of it!

 

Jessica Cozzi

  • WHAT IF IT'S US by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. As a huge Adam and Becky fan, I immediately knew I would love this book, and it turned out I was right. Nothing like a super adorable, geeky love story to make my heart happy and warm!
  • FRAT GIRL by Kiley Roache. This book is chock full of awesome feminist ideas, as well as tons of funny moments, which I really appreciated.
  • TRULY DEVIOUS by Maureen Johnson. This is the first mystery book I've read in a long time, and it was filled with so many twists and turns that I couldn't put it down and fell in love!
  • RESTORE ME by Tahereh Mafi. Tahereh can literally do no wrong in my eyes --- I've loved every single Shatter Me book that I've ever read, and this was no exception!
  • THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US by Katie Upperman. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and when it's a forbidden romance? Forget it. I'm hooked.
  • WILDCARD by Marie Lu. I was never a huge fan of sci-fi until I read WARCROSS, and I quickly found myself sucked into the story, so reading the sequel this year was equally as intense!
  • SUMMER BIRD BLUE by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Not only did I love this book because of its setting in beautiful Hawaii, but it was an emotional tale of loss and grief, but it also had some uplifting notes of happiness and friendship.
  • THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF OKAY by Laura Steven. I'm all for sex-positive YA books, and seeing this book's MC own her body and her decisions was super empowering.
  • THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER by Kim Purcell. This was a haunting story of love, loss, and mental health told from the perspective of a girl's letters to her missing boyfriend, and it made me cry all of the tears.
  • THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo. I was never a huge fan of books written in poetic form before, but this book gripped me from the very beginning and refused to let me go.

     

Rebecca Munro

 

Matthew Burbridge

 

Taylor Tracy

 


TEEN BOARD MEMBERS

Laina Q.

 

Ansley K.

  • THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS by An Na
    - THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS is such a beautifully written, interesting book that I couldn’t resist putting it on my list. It’s a book that is wonderfully poetic and really makes you think; I’m so glad I read it!
  • A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT by Sarah J Maas
    - A COURT OF FROST STARLIGHT was so fun and sweet! I had a great time reading it!
  • OBSIDIO by Amir Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    - OBSIDIO was an excellent conclusion to The Illuminae Files. It is jam packed with adventure and written in such an interesting way. I couldn’t put it down!

 

Jessica K.

 

Caitlyn K.

  • LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT I adored this book! It had the lovable characters from SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, and an amazing love story.
  • THUNDERHEAD (ARC OF SCYTHE) I really loved SCYTHE and I wasn’t sure how this could possibly follow it, but it blew me away!
  • AN ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE THING, I’ve known Hank Green from his YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers, for a while, but I never knew him as an author. But he is truly great at it! I read this book in one rapid sitting and it truly was absolutely remarkable!
  • OBSIDIO, as the final book in the Illuminae Files Trilogy I had very high hopes for this book and it delivered. It was masterfully written with the twisting plot I adored in the first two books, and finished the series off with a bang!
  • KINGDOM OF ASH, This one came out fairly recently so I haven’t read it but I know it will be my favorites of 2018!
  • QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS (THE DARK ARTIFICES, BOOK 3), This one came out fairly recently so I haven’t read it but I know it will be my favorites of 2018!

 

Becky N.

 

Abigail D.

  • DEAR EVAN HANSEN by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Ben J Pasek, and Justin Paul... this book was definitely a favorite this year because I was able to relate to the main character. And the plot of the novel was so thought out.
  • A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT by Sarah J Maas... I loved seeing the characters in a more relaxed setting. We were able to see more of Rhysand and Feyre grow and develop. This was an amazing novella after the ending of a perfect series.
  • NEVERWORLD WAKE by Marisha Pessl... The plot of this novel was something I have never seen before. I really loved the characters. This book was such an interesting topic and I devoured every last word.

 

Olivia W.

 

Ellie T.

 

Rebecca D.

  • DEAR EVAN HANSEN; this book was a really great adaption of a great musical.
  • THE WAR OUTSIDE by Monica Hesse, which shone a light on a point in history that needs to be talked about more.
  • BECOMING by Michelle Obama. This book is incredible, and I love reading it.

 

Ryan H.

 

Rachel R.

  • THE MUSE OF NIGHTMARES by Laini Taylor - This was one of my most anticipated books of 2018 after STRANGE THE DREAMER, and Laini Taylor didn't disappoint. With compelling character, a well-thought out world, and strong themes, I enjoyed every page of Taylor's sequel!
  • MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows - After MY LADY JANE, I was looking forward to this story, even though I knew that it would be set in an entirely different era with different characters. The authors utilize the same humorous and lighthearted style that characterized their first book, and provide an entertaining look at JANE EYRE revisited.
  • A TAXONOMY OF LOVE by Rachael Allen - Allen's sweet contemporary story offers a realistic look at Tourette Syndrome and the American South that elevates this romance above clichés.
  • ARCHENEMIES by Marissa Meyer - In an imaginative world of entertaining characters, Marissa Meyer's second book of her Renegades trilogy expands on her first and sets the stage for a fantastic final novel.
  • OBSIDIO by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - Blending multiple formats, Kaufman and Kristoff push the boundaries of the traditional sense of writing in a Sci-Fi thriller that ties up their trilogy with fast-paced action and suspense.

 

Gabby B.

  • DEAR EVAN HANSEN: THE NOVEL by Val Emmich
    This hands down has to be my favorite release of 2018 that I have read. The musical holds such a close place in my heart, so to get to learn more about the characters through the novel is something that is incredibly special to me. This title is one I will definitely come back to as the years go on.
  • WHAT IF IT'S US by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli
    This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it definitely met my expectations. I absolutely love Silvera and Albertalli’s individual works, so it is no surprise to me that their collaboration stole my heart. Considering that the title was inspired by Dear Evan Hansen, I think it was a given that I was going to enjoy this release.
  • AN ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE THING by Hank Green
    I was so impressed by Green’s debut novel. It addressed so many relevant issues in our society in such a witty and clever way. I had so much fun reading this release and I cannot wait for the sequel!
  • MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton
    This is a series that completely took me by surprise. I love the Lady Janies because they have such a unique style of writing and every single one of their characters are so fun and whimsical. Also, Princess Bride references. 
  • HEART OF IRON by Ashley Poston
    My reading experience with HEART OF IRON is one I will absolutely never forget. It was such an honor to interview Poston for my channel and Teenreads. For sentimentality reasons, this release makes my top five.
  • WHITE RABBIT by Caleb Roehrig
    Over the past year, Caleb Roehrig has become one of my favorite authors. His books are so genuinely written, suspenseful, and entertaining. I always leave his books feeling incredibly fulfilled and this one is no exception.
  • THUNDERHEAD (ARC OF A SCYTHE) by Neal Shusterman
    The hype surrounding this series at the beginning of the year was ridiculous. Everywhere I looked on social media, Shusterman’s new series followed me. This temptation encouraged me to pick up the series this year and I LOVED IT. I am so excited to see how this series wraps up!
  • LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT by Becky Albertalli
    It is incredibly difficult to create such a strong cast of characters in a contemporary novel, but Albertalli is a master at doing so. I have grown quite attached to Simon and all his friends that it was hard to bid them farewell. 2018 was definitely the year of Becky Albertalli and rightfully so.
  • PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE by Ellen Hopkins
    This title is one that particularly struck me because it was so powerful and informative. Gun rights are such a huge issue in America today, but despite that, many are incapable of seeing the full ramifications of the topic. Hopkins’ masterful writing does a phenomenal job of allowing the reader to get inside the heads of several characters as they head down an incredibly dangerous path.
  • IRON GOLD (RED RISING SAGA #4) by Pierce Brown
    This title is one that I was particularly excited about at the beginning of the year. The Red Rising series is one that has grown close to my heart over the past two years. I had so much fun reading the first book to this new chapter in the world Brown has created. His writing creates a clever juxtaposition between light-hearted humor and dark psychological trauma. I am so intrigued to see how the story progresses in DARK AGE.

 

Grace P.

  • THE EMERALD SEA by Richelle Mead: When I started this trilogy in 2016, I was not sure I was going to continue with the rest of the books. I am thrilled that these books have only gotten better and that I stuck it out until the end.
  • A REAPER AT THE GATES:(AN EMBER IN THE ASHES) by Sabaa Tahir: With my love for the first two books in this series, I was pretty sure I would love this one, too! That definitely is the case, but I have become so much more excited about the future of the series after reading this third installment.
  • MORE THAN WE CAN TELL by Brigid Kemmerer: This favorite was a surprise and the only contemporary that really sticks out from this year. Kemmerer truly knows how to write impactful and addicting novels.
  • STAR-TOUCHED STORIES by Roshani Chokshi: I have followed Roshani since the release of her first novel, and I adore this short story collection. I might even like these more than the full-length novels in this world.
  • THE LADY'S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee: With the success of THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, I had very high expectations for this novel. I am not shocked that it is the only historical fiction that made it to my favorites this year!
  • SADIE by Courtney Summers: I listened to the audiobook (I highly recommend it) at almost the very end of this year, and I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. It is definitely the best mystery/thriller I have read in a long time.

 

Ilona K.

 

Jeremy H.

 

Isabel C.

  • ASH PRINCESS by Laura Sebastian - I loved this book and this world so much! I definitely can't wait for the sequel!
  • SAY YOU'LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry - Another hit from Katie McGarry!
  • MY PLAIN JANE by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows - Like the first book, My Lady Jane, this was a huge hit for me! It had humor, romance, and a great story!
  • RESTORE ME by Tahereh Mafi - I hadn't realized I needed more in the Shatter Me world until this came out, but now the world has changed forever!
  • GRACE AND FURY by Tracy Banghart - This is a feminist story of epic proportions! I happened to get my hands on an early copy of the sequel and I can confirm that both are amazing!
  • THE DARKEST STAR by Jennifer L. Armentrout - I will read everything JLA writes, and I'm super excited to read more in the Lux world!
  • KINGDOM OF ASH by Sarah J. Maas - This was the final book in one of my all-time favorite series! I started reading it when I was 12 years old and now I'm a freshman in college, so it's been a long journey for me!
  • THESE REBEL WAVES by Sara Raasch - I loved her previous series, and yet this somehow tops it. I loved the characters and can't wait to read more about them!
  • THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN by Kiersten White - This was so creepy and fantastic! It was a feminist Frankenstein retelling for the ages!
  • THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black - After hearing so many good things about it, I finally picked this up and it did not disappoint!