Best YA Books of 2016 (so far)
by Patrick Hodges
I’ve been on a reading tear of late. So many fantastic books to read, so little time! Though I do on rare occasions step out of my comfort zone and read other genres, I find that I prefer reading books that are in the same genre in which I write – Young Adult. I’ve read more than 50 Young Adult books already this year, and here is a list of my favorites (in order of targeted age demographic). If you enjoy Young Adult stories, or if you know someone who does, don’t hesitate to recommend them. They’re well worth it!
Dog Goner by Cynthia Port – This book, along with its predecessor, Kibble Talk, are quite simply two of the funniest, most adorable books I’ve ever read, and would be a wonderful addition to the reading list for a preteen. Young Tawny, on a dare, eats a piece a morsel of dog food and discovers she can communicate with her Great Dane, Dinky, whose lifelong dream it is to be a lapdog. Yeah, it’s as outrageously awesome as it sounds.
The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren (Book 1: The Seeker) by Cody Wagner – Phoenix author Cody Wagner weaves a poignant story about bullying, self-worth, and the complete idiocy of homophobia in his debut novel. The story centers on Blaize Trales (yes, for reals), a kid whose world falls apart when he is outed and sent by his parents to a camp that will ostensibly help him “pray away the gay”. What he finds there is neither what he expects nor what the reader expects.
Phantom Touch by Jessica Hawke – Bridget Young is a typical high-school girl … except that she sees dead people. And she’s not happy about it. For, you see, many of the ghosts that talk to her became dead under less-than-ideal circumstances, and are even less happy about it. In order to get them off her back, Bridget must do what she can to help them move on by settling their earthly business. But when a serial killer starts targeting girls in her area, the reluctant heroine must leap into action. This book, along with its sequel, Phantom Traces, will have you laughing at loud numerous times. It also has several poignant moments that will have you reaching for your tissue, and a few tense scenes that will have you white-knuckling your Kindle.
The Pandoran Series by Barbara Kloss – If you want great fantasy, start … right … here. This four-book series follows a teenage girl named Daria, who after living a sheltered life on Earth discovers a past, present and future connected to the world of Gaia, where dragons and magic exist and political machinations by those who seek power are par for the course. An action-packed thrill ride from start to finish, with a wonderful heroine and a bevy of swoon-worthy guys for the ladies.
The Network Series by Katie Cross – Books involving supernatural schools immediately invoke images of Harry Potter, but I assure you, the similarities between that series and this one end there. Young Bianca is a witch who will soon die unless she can find a way to lift a curse put upon her family two generations earlier, so she enrolls in a school run by the granddaughter of the witch who cast the curse in the first place. But that’s just the beginning. The world that Katie Cross builds around Bianca and her colorful cast of supporting characters is rich, expertly woven, and an absolute joy to read.
The Tainted Accords Series by Kelly St. Clare – Few YA heroines mix sweet vulnerability and kick-ass toughness as well as Olina, a royal princess forced by her evil mother to wear a veil her entire life, with a death sentence immediately passed on any who see her face. Her fiery world holds an uneasy peace with the rulers of a nearby ice planet, and when her secret lover is murdered and she is spirited away to this other world, all the secrets and lies that have shrouded her existence are revealed. I’ve read three of the four books in this series and am salivating for the epic conclusion!
Order of Seven by Beth Teliho – New author Beth Teliho wowed me with this paranormal story that centers on a group of unique individuals from across the globe who are destined to come together to save the world from catastrophe. At the center is Devi, an eighteen-year-old girl searching for her biological parents when she realizes the significance of the recurring dreams she’s having. A terrific read.
Catchpenny by Sarah Wathen – High school can be hell, and in a small town where everyone knows everyone, even more so. Meg Shannon has been unfairly labeled a slut and ostracized by her peers, so when the handsome quarterback displays an interest in her, she’s instantly suspicious. Sarah Wathen’s brilliant writing style makes this coming-of-age story leap off the page, and I guarantee you, you’ll not find many main characters like Meg in YA literature.
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. Patrick has authored three books: Joshua’s Island, Ethan’s Secret, and Sophie’s Different. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” him on Facebook.