Best YA Books of 2015
by Patrick Hodges
I officially became an author at the end of 2014, and this coincided with my becoming a reader again. It had been years since I’d really read anything, and I was overjoyed to rediscover how much I’d missed it!
I read books in just about every genre (except nonfiction), from kids’ picture books to erotica. I read 100 of them in 2015, and every single one was by an indie author. Most of these books, as you might imagine, were in the Young Adult genre, the same genre in which I write. Nearly all of these authors I know personally and am delighted to call friends, and it is my pleasure to share the best of the best with you (in no particular order).
Into Shadow by T.D. Shields – This incredible dystopian book follows Poppy Walker, a tough teenage girl who just happens to be the daughter of the President. When a violent coup forces her to flee the only life she’s ever known, she must seek refuge in the ruins of the shattered city of Denver. It’s tough to survive in this world, let alone plan revenge on the monster that murdered her father. (I am currently reading the conclusion of the two-part series, Into Light.)
The Autumn Series by Kirby Howell – Autumn Winters has lived a comfortable life as the daughter of a world-famous and much-beloved actress. But when a mysterious virus decimates the world’s population, she must venture out from her ivory tower/penthouse apartment into a Los Angeles that has descended into chaos. Full of twists and turns, with a great heroine and a hissably evil villain, this three-part series (City of Angels, Dark Meadows, and City of Lights) is a great read for any age.
The Mystical Encounter Series by Kimberly Readnour – I love heroines who are strong yet vulnerable. Young Heather has a “gift,” wherein she can see disturbing images about the owner of an object just by touching it. Over this three-part series (Visions, Deceptions, and Vanished), she uses her gift to help her local police department in a number of investigations, many of which hit very close to home. Outstandingly written.
The Institute Series by Kayla Howarth – If you’re sensing a pattern in this list, there’s a reason for it. I love extra-worldly stories about strong, kick-ass young women, and this is one of the best I’ve ever read. Set in a future when kids are often born with super powers, only to be imprisoned by the government in the name of “national security,” Allira Daniels must protect her “Defective” brother at all costs. What follows over three books (The Institute, Resistance, and Defective) is a truly remarkable journey full of twists and turns, romance, and action, laced throughout with Ms. Howarth’s snarky humor.
Dawn of Rebellion Series by Michelle Lynn – It’s the future, and it’s not a happy one. The United States is only a shell of its once-great self, and Florida has been turned into a penal colony. When British teen Gabby is sent unjustly to this prison, it falls on her younger sister Dawn to rescue her. Before long, both sisters are caught up in a revolution where the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance. Told in shifting first-person POV, this series is an action-packed, emotionally draining roller coaster ride from beginning to end.
Lyric the Unknown and Lyric & Melody by Jim Maher – Lyric Bell is a very young girl who loves life, her sister Melody, and her mom. The only thing she hates is her violin, which she must practice all the time. However, when the world is covered in darkness, and mankind is reduced to a joyless existence on the top floors of the skyscrapers she once marveled at, she must turn to the thing she hates the most for inspiration – her violin. Her beautiful playing, however, has consequences in this new world, where music is forbidden. Poignant, beautiful, and masterfully written.
The New Bloods Trilogy by Michelle Bryan – Yes, another dystopian series. Can I help it if these books are so well written? Tara, a girl from a rural community eking out a meager life in the wastelands, learns that she is a New Blood, a being of tremendous power, when her entire tribe is wiped out by an evil dictator that has designs on Tara. I have read the first two books in this series (Awaken and Ascension) and am eagerly awaiting the climactic finale!
The Clay Lion Series by Amalie Jahn – Imagine living in a world where time-travel exists, where you are allowed to go back and relive your fondest memories, but not allowed to change history. The first book in this series follows young Brooke as she attempts to flout the rules and prevent the tragic death of her little brother, while the second sees her boyfriend Charlie attempting to discover a secret that his adoptive family has kept buried his entire life. Both books are mesmerizing, heartfelt, and gut-wrenching, pulling you in from page one and not letting go. True masterpieces. Pick up a copy of The Clay Lion and Tin Men immediately, and then move on to A Straw Man (which I’m reading now). You won’t be sorry.
Looking forward to another great year in 2016! So many books, so little time…
Patrick Hodges lives in Arizona with his wife of 15 years, Vaneza. After doing weekly columns for entertainment-related websites, he has turned his attention to writing fiction. He is passionate about sending positive messages to young people. Joshua’s Island is his first novel. A sequel is in the works. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” him on Facebook.