"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis
The first thing I'd like to emphasize in making a list of 2016 books on my tbr list: you and I both must be better allies and make sure to read books by PoC authors in 2016. If you feel like it's too hard to keep track of that tally, Dahlia Adler has made afantastic running list of YA novels written by authors of color being published in 2016-2017. If you have time, consider looking through that list and seeing which books may be on your tbr list and raise their reading priority, or consider adding the books to your tbr once you've read the GR summaries--whatever you do, at least please look at the list.
Okies! So here are some of my most anticipated books publishing in 2016. This list is definitely not the end all, be all, as that would fail to take account into recommendations and word of mouth from friends, and so on.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
And I Darken is a spin on Vlad the Impaler, who's now Lada. And directly from the summary: "Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu" (Lada's brother) "are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. " A ruthless leader caught in a game of power plus the Ottoman empire means there's going to be Turkish culture -- which overlaps with a lot of Middle-Eastern culture (e.g. my story on Turkish coins on the Lebanese purse). Plus this last line: "But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point." Some people don't like love triangles, but done right, they can be pretty awesome sources of tension and characterization.
The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn
I've loved every one of Stephanie Kuehn's novels, which often focus on a character who has mental illness, and feature plenty of mystery and thriller elements plus coming-of-age growth realizations. She's a wordsmith; nothing is wasted. Her characterization of mental illness and race and privilege and so many other issues is on point. Her characterization in general is great--she's giving a clear, distinctive voice to a lot of people whose voices aren't heard in the news very often. And her plotting -- she always, always has surprised me with where her stories go and what plot twists she has in store. Reading the synopsis for The Smaller Evil suggests that we're in for another high stakes psychological thriller with fascinating characters and a complicated plot to boot.
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
I meant to read Under the Painted Sky last year, and I still want to -- it's definitely on my list for this year too. Stacey Lee has gotten heaps of praise for her historical YA novels, and I want to be one of her fascinated readers. Outrun the Moon is pitched as being perfect for fans of Code Name Verity, which I loved. It seems to be about the major earthquake to hit San Francisco in the twentieth century. As the last line of the synopsis says, "Breakout author Stacey Lee masterfully crafts another remarkable novel set against a unique historical backdrop. Strong-willed Mercy Wong leads a cast of diverse characters in this extraordinary tale of survival." Sounds amazing, doesn't it? And I want to read more historical YA this year, so Stacey Lee, I'm coming your way!
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Omg. The Raven Cycle is one of my all-time favorite series. I don't really know how to describe it. The first book mentions the idea of a fairy-tale esque curse on Blue: If she kisses her true love, he will die. And then implies that her true love is this boy, Gansey, who seems like a pompous ass when she first meets him. Yet in the end, she gets caught in Gansey's circle; he and his friends are on a quest to discover Glendower, a mythical sleeping Welsh king, who, it's rumored, will grant the person who woke him a wish. Amazing characterization, plotting, atmosphere, magic, explorations of privilege, friendship, romance -- this series has EVERYTHING. READ IT NOW NOW NOW NOW.
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Another all-time favorite series. Also not sure how to describe the book. The first book is about Kestrel, the daughter of the Valorian general who helped their empire to win the war. She buys a Herrani slave, Arin, at an auction, and the series goes from threats of war to rebellion to romance to strategy games to OMG THIS HAS EVERYTHING. Great world-building, great characterization, great layered, feeling, great romance-- READ THE BOOKS NOW!
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Truthwitch has been getting a lot of hype, and Susan Dennard has been on my tbr list for a while now, so I thought that I would start here. I don't know too much about the book, but there seems to be four different PoVs, and it's about these two girls who are best friends who are then pursued because one of them has a magical power that means she can discern whether people are telling lies. So in a high fantasy, this equates to a lot of political intrigue and adventure, and putting female friendship at the front is always a plus. I also hear there's a great romance... Action, adventure, political intrigue, friendship, romance--what's not to like?
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins & A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood.
Anthologies are great. They're an easy way to discover new authors while reading about fascinating worlds and fun characters. The nature of the short story means that everything has to be compact; every scene must work on multiple levels. You can't get by with wasted words. I've enjoyed every anthology that I've read, if not every story within them, and a bunch of YA anthologies have helped me discover some of my favorite authors. For Summer Days and Summer Nights, I'm most excited to read the stories by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, and Veronica Roth. For A Tyranny of Petticoats, I'm most excited to read the stories by Elizabeth Wein, Marissa Meyer, and Marie Lu. And the other authors in Summer Days and Summer Nights (Franceca Lia Block, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith) and A Tyranny of Petticoats (Beth Revis, Andrea Cremer, J. Anderson Coats, Caroline Richmond, Katherine Longshore, Saundra Mitchell, Robin Talley, Kekla Magoon, Leslye Waltson, Y.S. Lee, and Lindsay Smith), I'm looking forward to being introduced to or becoming reacquainted with their work!
Bright Smoke Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
I don't know too much about this book, so I'll just leave the synopsis here ---> "This new series, pitched as "Romeo and Juliet meets Sabriel," re-imagines Shakespeare's story of feuding families and doomed lovers in a city threatened by necromancers and protected by "the Juliet," a girl born in every generation with powerful magic." A.) I've loved everything of Rosamund Hodge's that I've read. Both of her novels, Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound. And all of her short stories. B.) Romeo and Juliet and necromancers? Oh, wow, that sounds amazing. I really do love the idea too of doomed lovers -- when Rosamund Hodge says that, I actually do believe it for her work, haha. Read how dark her short stories are! Magic, romance, political intrigue (feuding families), beautiful writing -- yes, yes, yes!
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Again, another book where not too much has been released yet, so here's the synopsis --> "Three Dark Crowns tells the story of triplet sisters on a remote island ruled by powerful magic and ancient family lineages. Separated at birth, one of the sisters will grow up to be queen, but in order to ascend to the throne she must hone her magic for a dark purpose: assassinating her other two sisters before they kill her first. " I really enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood, and I love this element of three sisters, and the crown, and automatic pitting against each other, and magic, and a remote island, and ahhhhhhhh. I love every element -- sounds like great characterization and atmosphere are ahead!
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Furthermore seems slightly different from Shatter Me. It's Tahereh Mafi's debut MG novel, and it focuses on a sort of fairy-tale like story, where a girl's father disappears and she goes on a quest to find him. Here's what the summary says: "... this captivating new middle grade adventure where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places. " Sounds perfect. I also love Mafi's writing, and I trust that it'll be every bit as magical in Furthermore.
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
I read the excerpt for this novel, and was blown away by the characterization and writing and atmosphere and everything. The blurb says: "A hero. A villain. A liar. Who's who?" It seems to have psychological thriller + suspense elements, mixed with April's talent for characterization and atmosphere. And here's what the last line of the summary says: "For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Raven Boys, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced." I definitely qualify as a fan of all three, and that definitely puts this book on my radar.
Sacrifice by Cindy Pon
I loved Serpentine and can't wait to read the sequel! If you're a fan of how Truthwitch puts female friendship at the forefront, you'd love Serpentine. If you're a fan of the Chinese inspired elements of Alison Goodman's Eon duology, read Serpentine. If you want a lush setting inspired by Chinese mythology, great characterization and an intimate romance, and a plot that doesn't follow the usual conventions, CHECK OUT SERPENTINE and be excited with me for the sequel!
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
I haven't read a single book about Bruja magic. The main character, according to the summary, wants to get rid of her magic and tries to curse it out, only then her family disappears as a result of her actions. And according to the summary, "To get her family back they must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland..." Sounds GREAT.
Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
The more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed Court of Fives by Kate Elliott and its complex world-building. As the synopsis for Poisoned Blade says, "the Fives" is "the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom." The main character's world is separated into two classes, so there's also an imbedded class struggle. Here's how I described A Court of Fives: "A love letter to Little Women, female athletes, and epic fantasy set in a Greco-Roman inspired world rife with colonial class warfare." I'd very much recommend this to fans of The Winner's trilogy, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Kate Elliott comes up with in Poisoned Blade.
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
Looooooooove the Bone Season. The basic premise is that of an alternative London where you have clairvoyants/"unnaturals" (people with the ability to sometimes manipulate the aether, which is another spiritual plane) and voyants. London is ruled by a government that wants to crush the clairvoyants (hence the "Unnaturals" name), and so the main character is one of many clairvoyants who's in a gang. London is ruled by clairvoyant gangs. Then, one night, she's captured by the voyant police and sent to work at a harsh penal colony, where you find out about the existence of another race, the Rephaim, who essentially are the rulers of London, and they are more powerful than anyone else, particularly in the aether. As the series goes on, you learn more about Samantha Shannon's version of London, the clairvoyant powers, the Rephaim, etc. A series of FANTASTIC world-building, SO much imagination, and a huge, huge cast of characters that leads to unexpected plot twists... and oh, the cinematic action! It's all great fun and so layered, one of those series where rereading, you see all the details the author layered in over time. Highly recommended from me.
Okay, so those books are among my most anticipated non-debuts of 2016. I'd appreciate more recommendations for books to keep an eye out for! I don't think that I have enough books by diverse authors on this list, and I'm looking to be a better ally this year, so if you have any recs, let me know! I will also be keeping an eye out for that as the year goes along. Plus, my list always changes.
Do we have any anticipated titles in common? What are you most looking forward to reading in 2016? Let me know!