Unfortunately, this year I stumbled upon a bunch of bad books, including 5 of the worst books I’ve read in my entire life. But I’m not going to talk about the bad. Instead, I’m going to share 5 of the best books I read this year. Because despite the piles and piles of bad books, I did read a handful of spectacular books that I just could not put down!
1. Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
Being brave isn’t the same as not being scared, though, it means going through with something even if it totally terrifies you.
Prep School Confidential was unexpectedly amazing, right from the get-go. The book opens up with our main character, Anne Dowling, accidentally setting her school on fire. Talk about starting with a bang! The writing was clean, pretty, and paced well for the action of the story (1st person, present tense). The characters were engaging and exciting, and there was just so much mystery everywhere! I had no idea who was the killer, like literally no clue, and I loved that.
2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
“Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?”
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was beautiful, deep, emotional, yet strikingly simple. I loved every word of it! College student Hadley Sullivan misses her flight to England by four minutes, so she must catch the next flight. She’s already very upset about going to England because she doesn’t want to attend her dad’s wedding. She wants to stay home with her mom, who’s still heartbroken over her dad leaving them. But Hadley becomes distracted from her troubles when she meets Oliver at the airport. He’s a student, like her, even lives in the same city, but he’s native to England. This book is told in third person present tense and it is simply beautiful. There’s so much more to this book than a meeting of two strangers with the possibility for love. It’s about family, love, moving on, coming of age, and taking chances!
3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
“Sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me.”
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a joy to read. Written in first-person present tense (a recent trend among YA books), it perfectly captures the life of teenage (secretly gay) boy Simon Spier. Simon has been emailing a mysterious gay boy called “Blue” that he met on Tumblr. Neither of them knows each other’s true identity, but they take comfort in one another. Literally on the first page, Simon gets blackmailed by class clown Martin who happened to see his gmail account on the school computer. Thus Simon’s journey of self-acceptance, the dreaded “coming out,” and falling for his internet penpal becomes even more complicated. I was surprised by how much mystery was in this book. Simon spends a lot of time trying to figure out who Blue is. I had my own theories too and suspected every male character in the book at least once (even suspected one of his female friends at one point), and I was so thrilled when Simon discovered who it was!
4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
“You’re the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.”
Carry On was a fusion of everything I love. There’s a contemporary setting, magic, dragons, beautiful friendships, vampires, an incompetent Chosen One, and an enemy-turned-lover romance! While the book did start off slow with Simon Snow journeying back to Watford School of Magicks for his eighth year, it picked up fast around page 150 when Baz appears (That’s right you have to wait 150 pages for Baz, but it’s totally worth it!). This story is also first person present tense, but it’s told from multiple viewpoints. We get Simon Snow, his best friends Penelope, his (ex) girlfriend Agatha, his arch-nemesis Baz, along with a scattering of other characters. My favorite POV was definitely Baz. He’s snarky and sarcastic and it’s totally wonderful to be inside his head where he’s honest with himself. Simon Snow, as the quote shows, is the worst Chosen One ever who’s ever been chosen. He’s got more magic than he wants, and he’s terrible at keeping it under control. Most of the time he causes more trouble than he fixes. This book is an experience, full of danger, love, and mystery!
5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
“If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.”
Vampire Academy was entertaining, and the world-building was well done. Even though the story is told from Rose Hathaway’s POV, she has a special bond with Princess Lissa Dragomir that allows Rose to see what Lissa sees sometimes. It’s a very useful ability, and it makes the book much more interesting. This is the first of a series, so many questions were left unanswered. The story is told in first person past tense. Rose Hathaway is Lissa’s Dhampir (half human, half vampire) protector and the pair of them have been on the run, but neither can remember why. When Dhampir guardian Demetri discovers their whereabouts, he drags them back to St. Vladimir’s Academy (aka Vampire Academy). In this universe, vampires drink blood but are not killed by sunlight. They perform magic, but they are supposed to chose from the four elements: air, water, earth, fire. Princess Lissa can do all of them though. I’m anxious to read the next book since this one was so good!