I read so many amazing books in 2017 and I’m overwhelmed by how many releases there were this year that I have yet to read!! I’m also so excited for all of the books that are coming out in 2018, there are so many that I just can’t wait to get my hands on!! (End of the year book haul & most anticipated reads of 2018 posts coming soon!) Here are my top reads of the year. It was really hard to put them in order because I truly enjoyed them all. Let me know if you’ve read any of these in the comments and tell me what you thought of them! And most importantly, have a Happy New Year everyone 🙂
10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
This was easily one of the most important books of 2017 because it provides a first-hand account of the racism and police brutality that has been happening in our country. It was extremely powerful and whether you can relate to Starr or are learning more about the tragedies that have been occurring through her experience, this is the type of book that everyone can take something away from. Although it deals with serious topics and is at parts heart-breaking, it is also funny and uplifting. Starr is a very real main character with hilarious commentary. Her family’s interactions are amusing and touching because they’re a bit dysfunctional but they care so much for each other. Watching Starr find her voice throughout the book really inspires the reader to find their own voice and play their own part in the fight for justice.
9. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
This was a beautiful contemporary novel with a super lovable main character. Molly is overweight, she’s insecure, and she’s clueless when it comes to boys. I feel that she is a lot more realistic than the thin, fit, confident heroins that we constantly see in books lately and I think she’s the kind of main character a lot of girls will be able to relate to. Her inner dialogue was so spot-on and hilarious. Other than Molly, there were many other lovable, quirky, and diverse characters. This was another book with an amazing family dynamic. Overall, this book was so fun, memorable, and adorable and I would highly recommend it.
8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Synopsis: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
Unlike most of the other books on this list, this is not a 2017 YA release. This is actually a 2015 adult novel, but B&N was selling this on audio and I’d heard so many good things about it that I had to give it a chance. I’m so glad I did! This mystery/thriller was so captivating and the story-telling was so beautiful and intriguing. It was so well-paced and I was constantly waiting for the reveal of the next secret. It really kept me on the edge of my seat. Disclaimer: this book is a bit dark and depressing, and the characters may make you lose faith in humanity.
7. Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Synopsis: Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.
This was an amazing book about time-travel, mystery, love, and friendship. There were so many interesting settings in this book – from ancient and futuristic Rome to the Titanic (my personal favorite), I was always excited to see where the crew’s adventures were going to take them next. Speaking of the crew, I absolutely loved their group dynamic. The characters were so likable and diverse and they worked so well together. I also couldn’t wait to figure out the mystery that is Eliot. In the process of solving that mystery, so many thrilling twists were revealed. Overall, this was such a unique read.
6. Everless by Sara Holland
Synopsis: In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries. No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever. But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.
I was so excited to read this book because it was my first ARC! It actually comes out January 2nd, 2018. It definitely did not let me down. Holland managed to give this book a fairy-tale feel without making it feel overdone and unoriginal. It was mysterious and kept me wanting more. It ended with quite the cliffhanger and I can’t believe how long I’m going to have to wait to read the sequel.
5. Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell
Synopsis: The master has been unmasked. Rho’s world has been turned upside down. With her loved ones in peril and all the stars set against her, can the young Guardian from House Cancer muster the strength to keep fighting? Or has she finally found her match in a master whose ambition to rule knows no limits?
This was the final book in Romina Russell’s Zodiac quartet, one of the absolute best series I have read in the past few years. I’ve wanted more since I started the first book and I can’t believe it’s actually over. I feel that Thirteen Rising did an amazing job of wrapping up the series. It continued with the diverse characters and captivating settings that we had seen in the first three books, but introduced a darker side of Rho that we hadn’t seen before. One of the reasons I’m ranking it so high on my list is because of the many important messages it contains. There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of acceptance, respect, and equality. Although Russell talks about these themes in the context of other worlds, her words are powerful weapons that can inspire readers of this world.
4. Warcross by Marie Lu
Synopsis: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
As soon as I heard about the concept of this book – video games and hacking – I was so excited for it. Fortunately, it definitely lived up to the hype for me. Emika was an amazing main character. Unlike certain characters who have everything handed to them, she came from a rough background. She was talented, brave, and smart yet so humble and I loved that. The other characters were so diverse as well. I loved the group dynamic of the Phoenix Riders. The writing had to be the absolute best part of this novel. It was ASTOUNDING. The scenes about the actual games made me feel like I was right there playing with Emika and the team. One of the most profound elements of this book is that it doesn’t seem too far into the future because we live in a world where technology is starting to take over. I can’t wait for the sequel.
3. Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks
Synopsis: At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.
Ladies and gentleman, Nicholas Sparks has done it again. He’s created yet another beautiful story of love, family, and self-discovery. This is the first book I read in 2017 and it has stuck with me until the end as one of the my absolute favorites of the year. Where as a lot of Nicholas Sparks books are about falling in love, this one is about the main character, Russell, rediscovering himself after his marriage falls apart. In that manner, it stood out from a lot of Sparks’s other novels. It was similar, however, in the fact that it managed to simultaneously warm and break my heart.
I have some bad news so please don’t hate me! I put SO much thought into which book was my number one for me this year and I just went back and forth between my top two over and over again and I honestly could not pick. I tried really hard but they were both amazing and flawless and the thought of saying one was better than the other was breaking my heart. In my opinion, these books truly both deserve to be number one. Without further ado…
1/2. Caraval by Stephanie Garber & Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Synopsis: Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
This was Stephanie Garber’s debut novel and… WOW. I do not have a single bad thing to say about this book. From the minute I started it, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It was mysterious, suspenseful, exciting, and just amazing overall. Caraval was such an interesting and colorful setting. Garber’s writing really made me feel like I was there participating in the games. The bond between Scarlett and Tella was beautiful and the romance really drew me in. The sequel, Legendary, comes out on May 29, 2018 and it is one of my two most anticipated reads of next year. I CAN’T WAIT FOR MORE!!
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered. Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.
This book was also Amanda Foody’s debut novel and it was equally as stunning and addicting. I LOVED the setting of the Gomorrah Festival, and I LOVED the characters. Sorina, her illusions, and the other festival workers were such a diverse and likable group. The plot was SO intriguing and I was so drawn in by the mystery. This was a perfect book, 5 out of 5 stars, and one I will remember and cherish for years. Amanda Foody is coming out with the first book of a new trilogy in April called Ace of Shades and (unsurprisingly) it is my other most anticipated novel of 2018 because I loved DOTBC so much and I know Ace will be just as special!
(Disclaimer: Synopses taken from Goodreads.)