I’ll be honest, 2011 wasn’t the best year for me book-wise. For starters, I only managed to get through 63 books this year. While that looks like a lot, it means there a loads of books that I didn’t manage to get through – mostly ARCS, sorry publishers! Out of those 63 books, I only gave five a 5 star review. In other words, only 8% of the books I read this year did I consider excellent. Now compare that to 2010, where I gave nine books 5 stars. Five vs. nine! Isn’t that just depressing?
That said, there have been some truly standout novels this year. Some of them had been on my TBR pile for years while some were from brand-new authors. Here’s how they break down genre-wise: 3 Dystopian YA, 2 Adult Fantasy, 2 YA Urban Fantasy, 1 Adult Urban Fantasy, 1 Literary Fiction, and 1 YA Science Fiction. They’re a diverse bunch of books, but they are all worth a read! (Click on the titles to read my reviews.)
Top Ten Books of 2011
A Game of Thrones should really count as 3 books, considering it is big enough to double as a weapon! If you’ve somehow missed all the buzz about the HBO series based on this book, you’ve obviously been hiding under a rock. It is fantastic. Read the book, watch the show, go to a convention!
Patricia Briggs writes amazing books and Cry Wolf was no exception. I absolutely loved how the novel jumped between different characters, and wow what a plot. A-MA-ZING.
Yep, The Hunger Games. It took me forever to get to this book but it was ludicrously amazing. I even got my mother to read it (she adored it, btw!). Catching Fire and Mokingjay were just good and OK, but they did not detract from the brilliance of this book.
Moloka’i is unlike all the other books on this list – it’s historical literary fiction! But wow, is it ever extraordinary. Even if you don’t usually read this type of book, I would give it a shot.
Do not be fooled by the cover of Academy 7, this is YA science fiction at its very best. The only, only issue I had with this book? It was too bloody short! Moooore, Anne Osterlund. More!
Pure is kinda a cheat for this list. The book doesn’t come out until 2012 but I couldn’t help but add it to my list. While it isn’t perfect, it was one of the most terrifying YA novels I have ever read.
Temeraire! What a fantastic book! Dragons and Napoleon and magical magical writing. Read it!
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was probably one of the most unique YA books I’ve ever read. I am so very, very glad that it has gotten the praise it deserves. Oh, and Laini? Awesome awesome pink-haired lady.
I was afraid to read The Gathering, as I adored Kelley’s Darkest Powers trilogy and everyone knows that sequels never live up to the original! The only exceptions being The Godfather II and… The Gathering! This book was every bit amazing.
Ann Aguirre’s Enclave lived up to everything I expected from it. And I expected a hell of a lot. Her Sirantha Jax series is a fantastic read, so I hoped and prayed that her venture into YA would be just as great . It was – it really was!
So, I’ve just gotten a look at the cover for the next Lauren Oliver novel, Pandemonium, the sequel to her dystopian YA novel, Delirium. The cover is pretty different to the original Delirium cover, so I think the publishers may be going for a bit of a re-branding. It matches the “special edition” version of Delirium is supposed to be coming out with this new cover sometime in the fall – which will include a Q&A with Lauren Oliver and an excerpt from Pandemonium. Anyhow, take a look:
OK, so the new cover style is very different to the original (which I loved, by the way), but I like it. It’s fierce and a little bit scary, and the fall colours make it look somewhat apocalyptic… In fact, I’d say it’s more like the long lost cover The Hunger Games.
Is anyone else looking at these covers and seeing Katniss Katniss Katniss? I can just picture Katniss looking just like that, peering at me from behind a bush before killing me. And to prove that I am not the only one who has thought of this, I present the following evidence: the cover to the German edition of The Hunger Games (aka Die Tribute von Panem – Tödliche Spiele)
See what I mean?
I am pretty sure this is just me, but it irks me none the less. Delirium was a fantastic book and, yes, it’s a dystopian YA novel. But is it anything like The Hunger Games? No it is not. And unless the protagonist, Lena, has a dramatic character-modification in the next book, I am not picturing her as the next Katniss.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Published by Scholastic
Genres: Dystopian YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdee steps forward to take her younger sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
I adored The Hunger Games. I consumed the novel in less than a day, and suffered from acute post-amazing book depression. But since everything that could possibly be said about this book has already been said, I’m doing something a bit different for this “review”. I’m giving you a few book-a-likes: novels that, if you loved, pretty much guarantee that you’ll love The Hunger Games (and vice-versa!).
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Both Katniss and Graceling‘s Katsa have had lives that have made them extremely mistrusting, almost emotionally numb, and reliant only upon themselves. And yet, despite their harshness and their talent for making things die, they’re easy to root for. The only difference? Katsa manages to get through a lot of her issues in the one novel. It’s going to take Katniss a while longer.
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Enclave deals with one of The Hunger Games‘ key issues: children killing out of necessity. Enclave‘s Deuce also shares many of Katniss’ vulnerabilities: they would both sacrifice themselves for their families, and both are complete innocents when it comes to romance. Had Deuce been born in District 12, her name would have been Katniss (although Deuce does have much better control over her temper!).
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
This one is bit of a stretch, since I can neither say it takes on any of the sociological issues that The Hunger Games addresses nor that it’s protagonists have anything in common. However, both of Katniss and Maya are fierce, fierce, fierce leading ladies. If you want another novel with a tough-but-sensitive star, read The Gathering.
Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
All that react-before-thinking that Katniss has going on? Grimspace‘s Jax has that in spades. And I’m not quite sure what it is exactly, but there was a certain vibe in The Hunger Games which reminded me all too strongly of Grimspace. If you’re willing to take my word for it, give this Adult Sci-Fi novel a shot.
Bottom line? All the above books I gave 4.5 stars or higher, and would 100% recommend them. I hope by comparing them to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins fans will add them to their wishlist. But if you were like me, who emphatically resisted all the hype surrounding this novel, I hope this post gave you some incentive to start reading Collins’ fantastic trilogy!