12 Teens Share Their Favorite YA Books of 2016

Every month, our awesome team of teenaged bloggers talks about the best YA books they’ve read lately, sharing a diverse range of books written for and about teens. Today, they’re sharing their picks for the best young adult releases of 2016. Read on for dozens of irresistible YA reading recs from the experts.

“Wow” is the only word that sums up another great year of memorable books for every season. With springtime The Problem with Forever, by Jennifer L. Armentrout, rolled in, which I devoured over a school break. The memorable Mallory and Rider were exactly what I needed after the whirlwind of finals, and it felt great to lose myself in an emotional novel. My beach read was How to Hang a Witch, which sounds Halloween but is actually more history. I immensely enjoyed it simply because the author, Adriana Mather, descendant of Cotton Mather, incorporated her family history into an amazing novel. In autumn I fell for The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon, because it is absolutely adorable. This book left me in awe and I had so much fun using it as an excuse to procrastinate on my homework. For the wintry months I picked up Our Chemical Hearts, by Krystal Sutherland, which I have fallen in love with. I normally read exclusively seasonal novels this time of year, but I had to make an exception for this fantastic novel. 2016 has been a dazzling year for book releases and I cannot wait for the exciting reads coming out next year!

Kaitlin D., 14, professional procrastinator and self-proclaimed bibliophile. Lives in the pantry. May have taken a bite out of the moon.

In This Savage Song, one of my favorite authors, Victoria Schwab, weaves an amazing character in Augustus Flynn with a creepy fantasy setting perfect for fans of her adult book Vicious. The Young Elites series ended this year with an odd ragtag bunch of ex-Elites and Roses in The Midnight Star, and it’s interesting to see Adelina change into another person. It’s hard to describe Vassa in the Night as anything but Alice in Wonderland because you’re in a constant state of suspended disbelief with the story. On the more realistic side, Symptoms of Being Human truly offers something amazing for all people, LGBTQ or otherwise, to appreciate with its portrayal of gender-fluid blogger Riley. Instalove has never been so good as in The Sun is Also a Star, and you just want the two main characters to stay together forever.

Hiya, I’m Wren L., the weirdo who watches anime and obsesses over fictional characters. Currently hiding in my hoodie.

My Book Of The Year Award has to go to the Illuminae sequel, Gemina. The first book had ensnared me the second I started it, and I was as thrilled as I was apprehensive to read Gemina. Thrilled because of how great the first one was, apprehensive because sequels frequently fail to live up to expectations. But when I began reading it, I knew immediately that all of the beauty and humor of the first book had be recaptured in this one. Every line, action, and character was just as flawlessly carried out as the authors had done the first time. My absolute favorite was that, while the characters of Illuminae were present, most of Gemina is spent with new characters, which assisted in keeping this book feel unique and refreshing. I could write thousands upon thousands of stanzas of poetry on why I love this book so much, but, for the sake of word limits, I’ll end with this: Read. This. Book.

–Katelyn L., 15, loves all genres of books, has too many unread ones on her shelf, and desperately wishes for more time to read.

The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon, is a beautifully organized book that I will recommend to anyone—romance fan or not. Yoon creates a unique plot and relatable characters, and Natasha and Daniel have won a very special place in my heart. Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven, teaches incredibly important lessons from which every single person can benefit, and the book features two characters who might break your heart with how well Niven has written them. The Way I Used to Be, by Amber Smith, is a story of recovery and mistakes and growing up. Eden is trying to heal and survive through high school, and her story is shared through gorgeous writing and beautiful character development. Kids of Appetite, by David Arnold, is the story of the most lovable group of kids you will ever encounter. They’re all struggling with their own issues, but they’re all looking out for each other. Although Arnold tells the story of the kids’ mission to help Vic, their newest member, each character will reveal their own stories in time, and each of them will make you fall in love with them for their own reasons.

–Naomi N. is a 15-year-old author, blogger, candy-eater, movie-watcher, and NaNoWriMo participant. She loves books by Nicola Yoon, Rainbow Rowell, and Andrea Portes.

2016 was a good year for both first-in-series and sequels, and here are a few of my favorite releases this year! From January, there’s Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard and it has my favorite book villain (Aeduan’s power is amazing and he’s super confident in himself) along with a fast paced and clear-directioned plot. The other first-book I loved was A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro, mostly because Charlotte Holmes is the smartest person out there and the way she busts through the mysteries with Jamie (Watson) is so fun and exciting to read. Now for sequels, my absolute favorites for this year were A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic) for it’s incredible descriptions and emotion evoking, edge of the seat gripping scenes and The Midnight Star, by Marie Lu (conclusion to the Young Elites trilogy), for the most heartrending characters and relationships of the year. All in all, 2016 YA was a great success!

–Kelvin L., 17, is a figure skater, audiobook lover, and the world’s biggest fan of Vampire Academy and Miss Peregrine. He’s currently reading in order to avoid working on college apps.

This was a great year for YA books. How could it not be? We got two new Harry Potter stories. As if that weren’t enough, Rick Riordan also published two books. The Hidden Oracle reminded me why I fell in love with Rick’s writing and The Hammer of Thor made me fall even further in love with his ability to weave ancient mythology into modern settings. Also, can we talk about all the LGBTQ+ inclusion that is happening in these books? Because it gives me warm fuzzies. Speaking of warm fuzzies, Kiera Cass, romance queen of the world, published The Crown and The Siren and they’re both packed with adorable romance. The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury, satisfied my desire for fairytale retellings with it’s beautiful new take on the story of Aladdin. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories featured stories from some of my favorite authors, and some new ones I’ve now fallen in love with. It left me with all sorts of feels, and a deep longing for summer to come back and bring me a boyfriend.

Evalyn H., 15, loves fantasy novels, Disney movies, and snickerdoodle cookies. She is currently working on the third draft of a middle grade fantasy novel cowritten with her father.

There were so many amazing YA books published in 2016, but these are my top 5. The Crown, by Kiera Cass, was a perfect conclusion to a fantastic fantasy series, but I am still sad it is over. Wink Poppy Midnight, by April Genevieve Tucholke, is a strange and whimsical mystery novel that I consumed
in one sitting and was left feeling dumbfounded when it was over. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon is a loveable love story centered around relevant themes for today’s YA readers. Yoon’s portrayal of the characters had me wishing the story would never end! A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas was a thrilling sequel and had me gripping my seat and reading frantically to see what would happen next to the heroine Feyre. I’m so excited for the next book. Like a River Glorious, by Rae Carson, is a historical fantasy novel set during the California Gold Rush and had me enamored from page one. The characters and writing style were easy and fun to follow. I’m excited to see 2017 try to top 2016’s releases!

–Ellie T., 17, spends the majority of her time doing homework, or reading and buying YA books. When she is not doing that you can find her binge-watching Netflix or singing off-key to Hamilton.

I’ve been devouring young adult novels for years, and my bookshelf is filled with a mishmash of titles, all their own shades, shapes, and stories. This is perhaps my favorite thing about the genre; its variety. 2016 did not disappoint in this respect, and I was constantly floored by the uniqueness of each story I experienced. Crooked Kingdom is a masterfully written novel about the gritty adventures of a morally questionable gang. With a fantastically clever plot, the author Leigh Bardugo gives Kaz Brekker a run for his money. The Unexpected Everything has dogs, books, and ice cream. Add a dose of best friendship and a geeky love interest, and you’ve got my perfect summer read. Heartless is a fairytale as sweet as a rose macaroon. Marissa Meyer’s whimsical style transports you to a world of tea parties and court jesters, crafting a book filled to the brim with heart (despite what the title may suggest). Gemina is an epically thrilling sci-fi told through an alternative manner. It’s a perfect blend of action, science, and humor; you won’t be able to put it down. Each of these stories stuck with me this year, and I can’t wait to see what new unique YA novels I’ll add to my shelf in 2017.

Maddie M., 17, enjoys Jane Austen, waffles, and watching the movie Anastasia on repeat. Her favorite character is Hermione Granger and 80% of the time she can be found either in rehearsal or curled up with a book.

It’s the end of the year, so let’s talk about the most important thing: books! 2016 was definitely a year of contemporaries and fantasies for me, epitomized by my two favorite books of the year: The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner, and A Torch Against the Night, by Sabaa Tahir. First up, The Serpent King. It’s simply an amazing, touching book about how grief and the past can affect someone’s present and future. Although I’ve read about five books just this year with that theme, The Serpent King was the only one that broke my heart, with accurate depictions of suicide and the futility of life, before stitching it back together by reminding me that life works out in the end. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much at two in the morning. A Torch Against the Night is the action-packed sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, filled with way too many feels. I can’t really say anything without spoiling either book, but just know that in the span of one book, Tahir manages to completely wreck four OTPs and put me in a catatonic state. Let’s see what 2017 brings!

–Abigail L., 14. Slightly obsessed with Hamilton, Steven Universe, Sherlock, Gravity Falls, and YA books (of course!).

Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway is a wonderful story of magic, mystery, and finding home again after it has left you behind. Have you ever wondered what happens once the trip to Narnia is over, when the fight is won and the hero isn’t needed anymore? Yes? Great, just the book for you! No? It’s okay, you’ll love this book anyway. You Know Me Well, by David Levithan and Nina LaCour is a breathtakingly fun and upbeat book about friendship, gay pride, broken hearts, and what happens when your life isn’t the fairy tale you hoped it would be. Or, even worse, if it is a fairy tale, but you keep ruining your own happy ending. And finally, Kiersten White’s And I Darken is a fascinating new look on old history as the we learn the story of Vlad the Impaler, the historical muse for the legend of Count Dracula. Except instead of the prince, we have the princess Ladislav. But make no mistake the blood of the family Dracul is vicious no matter what form it takes.

Assaf, 17, sci-fi and fantasy addict, would kill a man for cake. Fledgling writer of a fantasy series about a young genius witch and her robotic dragon.

While I’ve read and talked about a lot of amazing books this year, I’ve somehow narrowed that list down to a few I want to talk about right now, and would recommend to you all. Believe me, this list was hard to create, and if I talked about all the books I loved this year, this list would never end. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is a heartbreaking, beautiful contemporary I can’t recommend enough. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo are two sequels to first books I loved that lived up to my expectations and to the hype. The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace is the first poetry book I’ve ever read and enjoyed, and six months after finishing it, I still think about this powerful, feminist book every day. When you choose your 2017 reads, I hope you’ll consider these ones, because they’re simply fantastic!

–Ava M. is a teenage book blogger, reader, and writer of YA. She is an intersectional feminist and advocate for diversity, and drinks a lot of tea. She likes organized bookshelves and reads too many fantasy novels.

Reading The Sun is Also a Star was a whirlwind experience. There are so many post-it notes in my copy that I don’t even know where to begin with this review. The amount of research that Nicola Yoon put into writing this novel was incredible. Readers go from learning about the subway system in Manhattan to the science of multiverses and then the history of hair. Those that love the television series, The Flash, will absolutely adore this novel. Yoon is also the queen of characterization. Our leads, Daniel and Natasha, are the modern day Romeo and Juliet, except that a family feud is not what keeps the two apart – it’s the threat of deportation. Despite their dire situation however, they develop an extraordinary and intense relationship built from trust, understanding, and pure luck. Though the story revolved around their relationship, Yoon also captured the perspectives and backstories of supporting characters; she completely redefined the omniscient point of view. Thus, with its wit, clever narration, and endearing protagonists, The Sun is Also a Star made a fascinating, heart-wrenching read that both hopeless romantics and science lovers will love.

–Nicole S., 15, loves books, people, and Italian food. Her life goal is to reach 5 feet in height.

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