YA Superlative Blogfest 2014: Head of Class

It's Day 1 of the 2014 YA Superlatives Blogfest! This is like my favorite blogfest of the year.

About the blogfest: The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 15th – Thursday, December 18th and will highlight our favorite YA books published in 2014**. The week will conclude with the lovely hosts Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and Katy Upperman giving away 2014 books to a few blogfest participants. Click the banner for more info!

If you join in, don't forget to link up at one of the host blogs!

**Disclaimer: I tried to choose books published in 2014 (Alz isn't participating this year because she's been in a year-long reading slump), but I will also have older books since I read A LOT LESS this year & many were not books published in 2014. I'll make a note if the book is NOT 2014 pubbed. In some cases, it was the last book in a series that came out in 2014, but I may talk about the series as a whole.

The topic of the day is HEAD OF CLASS, and these were my favorite books of 2014 for these categories.

Favorite Dystopian: INTO THE STILL BLUE by Veronica Rossi

Granted the only other dystopian I read this year was Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy conclusion ALLEGIANT and granted that The Never Sky trilogy is more Post-Apocalyptic than Dystopian, Into The Still Blue still earned its place. I was shaky about the first book but was curious enough to continue the series. Into the Still Blue was a satisfying conclusion to the journey our protagonists set off on, and I very much enjoyed seeing them get there.

Favorite Science Fiction: ODY-C by Matt Fraction / Illustrated by Christian Ward

Okay, this isn't YA and it isn't a book, but it's the only sci-fi anything I've read this year, and I already kind of love it. It's a futuristic, galactic spin on the Odyssey (one of my favorite stories ever) with almost all genderbent characters. The art is bold and colorful, the mythological twists are clever, and I can't wait to see where this series goes. It's probably going to be the first current comic book series I follow! Issue 2 is out around Christmas!

Favorite Fantasy: RUIN & RISING by Leigh Bardugo

This was a REALLY TOUGH category because I read so many wonderful YA fantasies this year, which I'll hopefully get to highlight later during this blogfest. But I had to choose Ruin & Rising because it brought the trilogy to an exciting, satisfying conclusion. The ending felt earned, and we all know, endings are hard to do well too. Though this was another trilogy that I felt shaky with at the start (I was a little underwhelmed by Book 1), it is one that won me over more and more with each book. I'm sad to leave these characters behind, but I'm also so, so excited to return to their world in Bardugo's next series.

Favorite Contemporary: WE WERE LIARS by e. lockhart

Source: We Were Liars tumblr / Text (c) E. Lockhart #wewereliars
I also read quite a few good Contemps this year, but most of them were pre-2014. Even so, I think We Were Liars comes out on top because it's a good mix of family drama, mystery, and heart-wrenching revelations. The prose is spare but vivid, and the exploration of family narratives, grief, growth, and memory are thoughtful and nuanced. The beautiful Sinclairs give us a lot to think about. You can find my more detailed reflection on this book in my review from earlier this year.

Favorite Action/Adventure: HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah J. Maas

Like I said, I read a lot of fun fantasy this year. While Heir of Fire was beat out in the fantasy category, I think it qualifies for Action/Adventure. This installment is my favorite by far and the one that had me truly anxious for the next because now, I feel like a lot of the cards are finally on the table from our characters and that the true story is about to begin. We find Celaena facing up to her past in a far-off land, this one still rich with magic, while at home in Ardarlan, though they aren't adventuring in a foreign land, Dorian and Chaol are facing dangers of their own. There's a lot of growth in character and plot. My thoughts elaborated in my Heir of Fire review from earlier this year.

Favorite Romance: OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine

I liked Sarah Fine's paranormal Shadowlands books, but I loved Of Metal and Wishes, which was a little more fantasy and a little more gothic. The story is a beautiful and sometimes brutal retelling of The Phantom of the Opera - if it were set in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle's meat factory. I loved the world-building and the very real class and race issues it explored, but I also quite enjoyed the romance - which was bittersweet, yearning, and perilous. There's a bit of a love triangle in this one, but you'll be surprised by how well it works.

Favorite Paranormal: MORTAL GODS by Kendare Blake

I'm actually not sure if this counts as paranormal, but this series does feature a bunch of teenaged / early 20-ish year old versions of Greek gods and heroes in modern times doing their best to kill each other before they die. It's fun if you're a Classical Mythology nerd like me, but even if you're not, Kendare Blake always writes fast-paced, bloody adventures that are funny to boot. I've loved her interpretations of what the modern-day gods and heroes are like, and I was particularly taken with some of the new characters she introduced in this installment. The cliffhanger at the end though? UNFORGIVABLE. I need the next book asap!

Favorite Genre Bender: BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater

I think until this series is over, the Raven Cycle books are always going to rule this category. They are a fantasy/paranormal unlike anything I've ever read - unpredictable and entirely engrossing. Henrietta feels both contemporary and otherworldly, and the characters are so nuanced and endearing. I am always happy to see them again and am always reluctant to let them go when I get to the last page. I can't recommend these books enough.

Come back tomorrow for the Popularity Contest category. These will be fun (expect the Darkling).


Jaime Morrow said...

I was saying to someone else today that I've always had a Raven Cycle book under the Genre Bender category until this year. I still haven't read BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE yet. Soon! This blogfest is a great reminder each year of books I still need to read and, of course, the gaping holes in my reading in general. I had no 2014 paranormal this year and had really only one choice for dystopian which, like you say, is actually more post-apocalyptic. (I went with INTO THE STILL BLUE, too.) You have some here that I need to check out. Thanks for the rec! :D

Jessica Love said...

Raven Boys 4-Eva!

Julie Dao said...

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE is on my to-read list for Xmas break and I cannot wait!!!!

Margo Berendsen said...

YAY for the Darkling!!

Need to read that series ending with Into the Still Blue.

Sophia L said...

I didn't read many 2014 books this year either - I might go back and add some pre-2014 books because my lists are really short! The Mortal Gods series looks good. I was thinking I'd like to read a book with some Greek Mythology in it after finding my David Gemmell Troy books.

Alison Miller said...

Yay for Blue and We Were Liars! And oh there are so many on this list that I so need to read!

Thanks for joining in again!

Simply Sarah said...

I've been wanting to read of Metal and Wishes. It looks amazing.

Katy Upperman said...

Yay for WE WERE LIARS and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE -- two of my favorites as well! And how gorgeous is that cover of ODY-C? Never heard of it, but the colors are beautiful. So glad you're joining us for another year, Alice, and I can't wait to see your choices for tomorrow!

Mrs. Silverstein said...

Oooh--thanks for bringing my attention to ODY-C! I've been sucked into the world of comics this year mostly through Fraction's run of Hawkeye, so I'm excited to see what he's up to next.