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Best Books of 2013

(Originally posted on The Huffington Post)

Out of the 81 books I read in 2013, I can honestly say that 10 books stand above the rest. I enjoyed so many well-written, top-notch novels and these are my absolute favorites.

I highly recommend each of the books below and hope you will love them as much as I have. They each added something new to the young adult genre and are truly the best of the best.

And the nominations are…

Best Fantasy/SciFi

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

Crown of Midnight is the sequel to Throne of Glass and avoided the dreaded sophomore slump that many second books fall into. It was just as strong — if not stronger — than the first book, and I fell more in love with the strong heroine, Celaena, and the highly developed world of Endovier.

Best Debut Series

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

This book had me at “cross-dressing girl” and “elemental mage.” It hooked me immediately, and I hoped Thomas had the goods to back up such a killer premise. (Spoiler alert: She did). The Burning Sky truly created a magical atmosphere, one that was natural and unforced.

And, it made me care about the characters and what happened to them, which involved things like hardcore fire, water, earth mage action, evil sorcerers and tons of secrets waiting to explode. You know, the usual.

Top Stirrer of Feels

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

Readers are clearly VERY divided about the conclusion of Roth’s Divergent series. For newbies, I’d advise you to read the first book, watch the movie next year and THEN read the subsequent books. Live in bliss while you can…

In all seriousness, I understood and appreciated Allegiant. It was bold and unexpected and fit in with the brutality and harshness of the dystopian world created. Whether you loved it or hated it, Roth managed to evoke very strong emotions from fans, a true accomplishment.

Best Sequel

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

I’m so thankful for another stellar sequel. My expectations were ridiculously high, as Shadow and Bone was my all-time favorite book of 2012.

With interesting Russian influences and an absolutely unpredictable plot, Siege and Storm kept high fantasy alive and well in YA fiction. There are power struggles and epic battles and evil dark forces at work. This book kicked my butt and broke my heart. (Don’t the best always do?)

Favorite Character

Persis from Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

Across A Star-Swept Sea is a half sequel, half companion book to Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars. These books are genius — they retell classic stories into a newly imagined, fully-fleshed world of Peterfreund’s imaginging.

This book retells the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel, only instead of a man, this time the silly and vapid Persis Blake takes the lead. Her depth of character and ballsy-ness endeared her to me right away. Fantastic writing and wonderful storytelling made this book a true standout.

Most Unique

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

To quote my own review: Pivot Point “combines fun YA paranormal abilities with an interesting perspective on making decisions in a real-life choose your own adventure story.”

Pivot Point was unlike any other book I’ve ever read. The concept is fresh and interesting and surprisingly unconfusing considering two totally separate and conflicting scenarios are being told by the same narrator at the same time. Masterful.

Best Series Finisher

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

The Bitter Kingdom offered the best kind of ending: a satisfying one. Carson combined fantasy with romance and action perfectly. The whole series has been strong, but this final book really finished with a bang.

Plus, Carson is hardcore and is putting out a whole new series in 2014, which I will without a doubt be reading.

Most Beautifully Written

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

Author of bestselling The Chemical Garden series, Lauren DeStefano has done it again. The story of Internment, a floating city in the sky, was written as light and airly as the imagined setting.

DeStefano has a remarkable ability to create new meanings from effortless prose. Perfect Ruin has a futuristic bent that doesn’t feel cold or remote because of the richly romantic language. It’s like a sleepy cat curled up by the fire (Lauren, I hope you appreciate this analogy…I follow your Instagram).

Best Setting

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

Picture this: It’s the early 1900s in New York City. You’re seated on a plush red chair inside a packed theater. You’re there to see Marguerite and Anna Van Housen, a mother/daughter medium duo. Only the performance you witness seems too otherworldly to be remotely possible. How do they do it…?

From the very first page of Born of Illusion, I was pulled into the magic and mood created by Brown. Just give me a cloche hat and turn up those jazzy tunes.

Best Overall Book

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Full review here

best young adult books 2013

I thought a lot about this selection. It had to be a book that was well-rounded and well-written. It had to be fresh and new. And most of all, it had to stun its readers with exquisite storytelling.

These Broken Stars fits the description perfectly. I finished it wishing there was more to read and wanting to start all over just to experience it again and again. It is truly an outstanding YA space opera that you should absolutely put at the top of your to-be-read list.

What books and categories would you add to this list?