1) Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
So, dragons. And all sorts of Weird Dragon Rules. And a GLOSSARY. And delicious characters. And ACTION. And I loved Prince Lucian. And no one even had sex but still! I kept reading!
2) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
What a moody, creepy, lovely book. A house full of weird lady psychics? Mysterious brooding boys-only boarding school? Ley lines and murder? What the hell else do you want? Because it’s probably here.
3) Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Um, if you call this book a ‘mermaid book’ I’m gonna backhand you into next week. These are ANCIENT SEA CREATURES. And they are scary as hell. And beautiful, too.
4) Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
One word: PERRY. Now go read it, you big dummy.
5) The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Okay, so here’s some standard adult LITERARY fiction. And yes, it was assigned graduate school reading, so piss off. But if you really want some New Adult Fiction, this would it. Madeleine, Mitchell and Leonard are all college graduates at sea about their next moves. There’s not tons of ‘steamy’ sex which marks a lot of New Adult, but there’s some. Mostly it’s really funny. I particularly enjoyed the portrait of Leonard, who struggles terribly with bipolar disorder.
6) Swimming Sweet Arrow by Maureen Gibbon
HOLY SHIT SO MUCH SEX. And kinda seedy sad sex, too. And violence. And girls being strong and girls being weak. Intoxicating. Where is the YA book with female characters who are fearless and curious about sex like Vangie and June?
7) Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
Yanno, what could bug me more than some American expatriate pot-smoking poet living like a lump in Spain? You’d think I would have chucked this book into a fire. But it’s way too absorbing and amusing. Adam Gordon is grody and pretentious and completely idealizes women in a fetishizing way that arty men tend to do, but he’s also funny and broken and his take on a poetry reading and its stupid theatrics pleased me to no end.
8) Under The Wolf, Under The Dog by Adam Rapp
I’m late to the party on this, but GODDAMN. This is one of those books where you’ll follow the narrator into hell if that’s where he takes you. And Steve Nugent does take you through hell–his own–that has landed him in a psych ward. But he’s super funny about it. Which is really all you have to do to keep me reading – amuse me with word & phrase and I won’t care what happens (or doesn’t happen.)
9) The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
If you think YA is all about vampires and not getting a prom date, read this motherfucker. Put on a helmet, first, though. Then come talk to me.
10) Where Things Come Back by Corey Whaley
See above note for The Marbury Lens. Another expectation-smasher.
11) Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Antiochus Boggs is the grossest, creepiest, dirtiest, BEST villain ever. Also, this book is about grave-robbing. Top that, man.
12) Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
This is a book about war, sea turtles, fucked-up families, asshole brothers, tattoos and true courage. Also, Travis is funny as fuck and Doller brings the swoon.
13) Everybody Sees The Ants by A.S. King
Lucky Linderman ain’t so much lucky. Bullied, guided by dreams of his POW grandfather, he’s trying to figure out how to survive in the hell that is modern high school.
14) Tithe by Holly Black
Also super late to this. But it’s so delicious and good. The original urban faery concept and so creepy-sparkly-good.
15) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Whatever. I fell down the hole. I like being there. I’m on A Dance With Dragons. Saving it up, though, because who knows when the next one will come out. ALSO: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
16) Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston
I like it when books take you to weird places. That sounds vapid and trite, but in this case, we go from flesh-eating MRSA deaths to fly-fishing to National Parks to animal mutations to monster movies to road trip in an old Cadillac with a girl named Polly and a boy named Odd. It helps that Polly was on my shortlist of girl names. Also, Odd is funny as hell. And there’s no sex! Still I kept reading. I liked the boy-girl friendship that wasn’t fraught with sex tension. That’s rare.
17) The Knife and The Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez
Azael is caught in juvie and recalling what led him there. But how can he get out? And why must he keep watching this weird white girl? And what’s her fucking deal, anyhow? Twisty wonderful book.
18) Kiss It by Erin Downing
This book takes so many YA romance tropes and turns them into pretzels. Satisfying on so many levels. I especially love books that feature teenagers at crappy jobs. Chastity is a waitress and, unlike her name suggests, no shrinking violet. Also: SEX. But not creepy/fakey/Glamour Shots kinda sex.
19) Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach
So, first you read Stupid Fast, because that’s the first book featuring Felton Reinstein (who, like Jonah Griggs and Marcus Flutie, makes me ache because he is not an actual, living human being.) Then you just continue enjoying being in Felton’s head. I love being in boys’ heads. It’s as exotic as hell.
We will end at 19, for symbolic reasons. *Mona Lisa smile*