Time to sit down and think about my top 18 books read in 2018. Even though I think this is a fun, important post, I takes AGES to draft. Which books were my absolute favorite? How do they rank? It took some puzzling and nail-biting (and turning the whole list upside-down three times), but here we are. Without further ado, the 18 best books I read this year!
18) Morning Star by Pierce Brown
I don’t think I have ever yelled as much as I did during this book. At a certain point I even scared the hell out of the other people in the pub. I got angry, I cried, I screamed, this book brought me to the breaking point and back, and I loved every second of it. What an explosive end to a magnificent series.
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.
17) Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I fell in love with this cover the moment I saw it, even if the short description didn’t really speak to me. However, I discovered a gut-wrenching story within its pages that was just as beautiful as that cover. I finished it with tears in my eyes and I’m so ready to read more books by Bowman.
Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.
16) Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
This must be one of the weirdest books that were released this year and I have to say I had my doubts. It was this weirdness though that made this book absolutely amazing. The combo of speculative fiction, horror and history somehow works perfectly and it turns into one addictive mix.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
15) It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Just thinking about this book is bringing tears to my eyes. It’s absolutely beautiful and encouraging, and the best book about depression I’ve ever read.
Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
14) This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
This must have been my most anticipated read of 2018 after absolutely adoring the first book in this series in 2017. (The latter one managed to be my favorite read of 2017.) Now, if you’re wondering why this book is so “low” in my list, I can assure you that this book isn’t bad or anything, but this one could never surpass the originality of the first book.
Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”
The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.
Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.
When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.
But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.
13) Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
A book that was on one of my seasonal anticipation lists and I was so lucky to find it in one of my Illumicrate boxes. The writing style, the premise, the culture, the world, the story, everything is just absolutely perfect and mesmerizing. This was one book I couldn’t put down.
In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.
Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.
Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.
12) Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne
Ever been on the verge of a mental breakdown in the middle of book conference? Thanks to this read, I can say that I have. This book ripped me to pieces when I was least expecting it and I had to do some deep breathing in order to not break down. Seriously. This one hit me hard, but in the best way possible.
11) Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount
Managed to get my hands on the ARC of this book at YALC, and I’m so glad I did. Somewhere around the 80-page mark, I suddenly found myself with tears in my eyes and I needed a second to compose myself. This book is unbelievably powerful and original, I still can’t find the words to describe just how magnificent it is.
TRIGGER WARNING: Boys will be boys is never an excuse.
It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap-on-the-wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain or lessen the crippling panic attacks that make her feel like she’s living a half-life.
It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows she partially blames him for what happened, and totally blames him for how he handled the aftermath. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.
When it all comes to a head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.
10) Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff
Another book I was highly anticipating to get my hands on and read. It ended up being absolutely different from the first book, but amazing in its own way. One powerful, feminist read with so many different layers.
9) Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes
Another YALC-ARC that I actually expected to hate due to some not-so-good reviews of a friend. But surprisingly, I ended up absolutely adoring it. It’s not an easy book to read, both literally and through the topic it tackles, but I loved it.
8) Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
Another very anticipated read and it was just as good as I expected it to be. Shusterman gave a masterclass in storytelling in this book, and it was absolutely brilliant.
Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.
The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.
7) Vox by Christina Dalcher
I knew this book was going to sucker-punch me from the get-go, and it certainly did. Amazing cautionary tale about being quiet.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.
But this is not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
6) This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
Last year’s winner isn’t ranking as high this year. Not that the book isn’t as good the second time you read it, that’s not possible, but simply because the surprise of the story was gone this time. Absolutely incredible book.
When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.
Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back.
There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.
5) The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
The last book of one of the series that were on one of my to-finish lists and I’m so glad I finished it. Look, I expected this series to have an ending that I wasn’t expecting, AND IT STILL MANAGED TO COMPLETELY TAKE ME BY SURPRISE. Not always easy to take, but holy hell this was good.
In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch.
As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.
To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy, and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.
Now the endgame begins and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will finally be revealed…
4) A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
And another YALC-ARC. One that I desperately wanted to get my hands on and absolutely loved from the first page to the last. I just cannot recommend this book enough.
3) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
I never expected that this small book was going to pack a giant punch. The short description promised me a book that wasn’t going to be for me, but holy hell was I wrong. I might have read this one with my mouth wide open and I cannot wait to read more books by this author.
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…
2) The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
So back at the end of January 2018, I proclaimed that I had already read the best book I would read this year, but it ended up on spot number 2. Still, this is one amazing read and I will never stop recommending it left and right.
1) It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
And the book that took the crown. This story was just perfect from beginning to end. It touched on so many important topics and should be mandatory reading for every fifteen-year-old girl out there.
Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…
The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.
What do you think of the books that ended up on my list? What were your favorite books you read this year?