YA Superlative Blogfest: Head of Class

Welcome back from the holiday celebrations! We hope you got awesomesauce things for Christmas and ate lots of delicious things (we did, perhaps too much)!

Today, we're participating in the Class of 2011: YA Superlative Blogfest hosted by Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and Katy Upperman.

Click for more info!

About the blogfest: The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest is a fun and interactive way to highlight and share your favorite YA novels, covers, characters, and story elements. The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest will span four days, beginning Tuesday, December 27th and culminating Friday, December 30th.

Today's topic is HEAD OF CLASS, in which we name our favorite 2011 YA books.

Favorite Dystopian: Divergent by Veronica Roth

We have some very mixed feelings about the worldbuilding in this book, but out of all the dystopians we've read this year, Divergent definitely has the best character arc. Tris's development and evolution are both realistic and interesting, making this a worthwhile read. Plus, the book is action-packed, making for a fast read.

Favorite Fantasy: Chime by Franny Billingsley / Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Despite some plot issues, Alz really liked Chime for the fact that it transformed a grody mosquito-laden swamp into a place of beauty and mystery. She's currently reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone which Krispy has already read.

Both of us agree that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautifully-written and atmospheric book. Being set in Prague is a bonus too, and the world-building is excellent. It puts a unique and multi-layered twist on the angel/demon mythology.

Favorite Action/Adventure: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Alz didn't read this one, but Krispy did and thought it was a wonderful, satisfying end to a fun trilogy. Set in an alternate historical timeline of World War I, in which the warring sides have steam-powered war machines and fabricated beasties, the books take us on a thrilling ride from Europe to the Middle East, across Russia and to America, aboard the living airship, The Leviathan. There are thrilling air battles, revolutions, war conspiracies and politics, clever beasties, a lost prince, a girl pretending to be a boy, and a friendship that possibly becomes something more. If that doesn't scream Action Adventure to you, we don't know what will.

Favorite Mystery: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Alz read this one. The mystery in this book is indeed mysterious as Mara doesn't remember how or why her friends died or why she is the sole survivor. The tension is tripwire-taut and the story exerts in inexorable pull on the reader because you really do want to find out A) what happened and B) what the hell is going on.

Favorite Romance: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin / Divergent by Veronica Roth

*Note: We didn't read any books that would necessarily be categorized as "romance" books, so we picked couples we liked, who we thought had chemistry and development.

Mara/Noah is a great romance because while Noah is initially presented as a douchey jerk and has quite a mouth, Mara can verbally hold her own against him and has conflicting feelings about whether or not she likes him or wants to strangle him or both. Their chemistry. It sizzles. *sssssss*

Tris/Four is a different sort of romance because rather than peers, they have a trainee/trainer relationship at first. The romance develops naturally over the course of their interactions and deepens as they begin to understand each other's weaknesses and fears, as well as strengths.

What do both of these romances have in common as they both earn our Favorite Romance label? It's not love at first sight. The romance has depth beyond "oh he's hawt" and "she's sex-ayyyy". They do not instantly fall in love because of Fate and Destiny. And yet neither one of these books would probably first be labeled as a romance. Hmm.

Favorite Family Drama: Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan

Ah! Demon's Surrender! The beauteous bromance! Nick and Alan! The Ryves brothers! Despite their danger-ridden lives, they hold together through thick and thin, glued together by brotherly love. The entire Demon's Lexicon trilogy is like a family drama because all the most important relationships are familial ones. The Ryves brothers. Spunky heroine Mae and her brother Jamie. Brave Sin and her little sister and her extended "family" of the Goblin Market. There's danger and romance, but in the end, their strongest motivational ties involve family.

Favorite Genre Bender: Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Krispy read this one. It's a genre bender because it's a contemporary sort of story with paranormal elements, but it also has some family drama and action and a side of romance. The story is set in what looks like the present on the fictional island of Thisby that feels oh-so-real. The paranormal comes in the form of the dangerous and beautiful water horses that wash up on the island's shore every Fall, which the people who would ride in the Scorpio Races attempt to train. The plot is character driven - Puck Connolly is a girl who enters the race - the first to ever do so - in a desperate bid to keep her family together and Sean Kendrick is the returning champion of the races, who has one foot on land and the other in the sea, who loves a water horse that is his in every way except in name. It's a classic boy and horse / girl and horse and saving the farm story, put atop the back of a flesh-eating fairy horse from the sea. In short, moving and wonderful.

Favorite Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

This is a genre not actually included in the blogfest, but we added it because even though we only read two YA horror novels this year, Anna Dressed in Blood was too good not to include somewhere on this Head of Class list. It had a lone wolf hero whose mom cares about and supports him, blood and gore and ghosts, and supporting characters who were interesting, competent, and defied stereotypes. The voice was great.

Alz read not so many 2011-published books; Krispy read many. However, this will matter less on Wednesday when we return to the blogfest with a post on YA characters not limited to 2011. So be sure to stop in tomorrow!

What are your favorite genre picks? We'd love to hear them!


Jessica Love said...

Great choices! I agree...I loved the romance in Divergent!

Connie Keller said...

There are so many of these that I haven't read. Time to start reading. Thanks for the suggestions!

Angela Brown said...

So many of these titles, minus the horror pick, are on my TBR list. I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Marquita Hockaday said...

Awesome choices--and the romance ones were brilliant. Anna Dressed in Blood looks ah-may-zing. Totally gonna read that one.

Katy Upperman said...

Awesome choices! We have a lot of the same selections, and you're right: DIVERGENT's romance is fantastic!

Alison Miller said...

Excellent choices! And I must, must, must read the Scorpio Races!

Lori M. Lee said...

I loved your choices :D And yes, Anna Dressed in Blood totally deserved to be mentioned somewhere.

Sophia Chang said...

Yes! We will exchange dystopians and I will push you to read Peregrine.

Golden Eagle said...

I loved Chime and Goliath!

I didn't know Maggie Stiefvater had come out with another book; I'll have to check that one out. The Wolves of Mercy Falls wasn't my favorite series, but I like the premise of The Scorpio Races.

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

Ooh, I love blogfests because I learn about so many new books! Love these picks.