All things considered, 2011 was a pretty good year. I started a million new projects and I'm getting ready to release my first Young Adult novel. Of course, writing YA fiction wouldn't be possible without being able to read, admire and learn from other writers working in the same genre. Here are five of my favorite YA novels that I read this year!
1. The Tiger's Curse Series by Colleen Houck. 18 years old? Check. Orphan? Check. In need of a good job? Double check. Kelsey Hayes takes a job at a traveling circus to earn some pocket change for her college education in the great state of Oregon. What she gets instead is an Indian prince hiding a terrible curse, a trip to India, boatloads of romance and a lot of magic. This book was originally self-published by Colleen Houck as an e-book until she was picked up by Splinter. The series consists of three books thus far, with two more on the way. The first book has also been optioned by Paramount Pictures.
2. Vampire Diaries Series by L.J. Smith. Yes, it came out in the 90s, and yes, it's a romantic teen drama on the CW. But L.J. Smith's best-selling bloodsucking romantic saga is one of the freshest, frightening and entertaining series I've read in a long time. The series follows beautiful Elena Gilbert throughout her adventures in the small town of Fell's Church - and did I mention the love triangle with the two very handsome and equally deadly vampires, Stefan and Damon? No? Well, once you sink your teeth into this series, you'll never forget them.
3. Iron King Series by Julie Kagawa. The primary series, outside of the companion novellas and sequels, encompass three books, Iron King, Iron Daughter, and Iron Queen. It chronicles the adventures and romances of Megan Chase as she enters the world of deadly faeries. Soon after she discovers that she's half-faery (and a faery princess, to boot), it becomes her fate to save the world of faeries from the ever-creeping Iron Kingdom that would destroy them - and everyone she loves. Check out Julie Kagawa's witty, romantic and adventurous fantasy. It's definitely worth your time.
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I can't say enough about this book. It had me captivated from the first chapter. It all begins with a girl, Tris, in a dystopian environment, forced to choose which category of society she will belong to. After choosing Dauntless - the reckless, wild and dangerous dwellers in society - Tris embarks upon rigorous physical training which consists of knife-throwing, gun-toting and hand-to-hand combat. Her Instructor, Four, is not only lethal, but incredibly crush-worthy. Between the excellent writing and amazing storyline, all I can say is this: read the book! It's amazing.
5. City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare. Clare once again takes us into the mesmerizing world of Shadowhunters. Dark secrets are revealed and everything is not what you think it is in this fourth installment of The Mortal Instruments Series. The fifth book is in the works - but there are, of course, the prequels - The Infernal Devices Series - to tide you over in the meantime.
So there you have it. My five favorite Young Adult novels of the year. Merry Christmas, everybody!