Can you believe 2016 is already coming to a close? It feels like yesterday that I was listing my top 15 books of 2015, and here I am today, listing my top 16 of 2016. Crazy!
This year has been a great year for reading for me, and – though I haven’t read as many books as last year, I am confident that my top books are better. This list was so hard to compile because everything was so amazing! However, I finally managed to whittle it down to these 16 books…
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
I read this book rather recently, and still can’t shake the intensity, how vivid it was, from my mine. Tahereh Mafi is such an amazing author, and the way in which this middle-grade novel was written really made it stand out to me. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.
But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
I finished reading this book the morning I am writing this post, racing through the final 100 pages, eager to reach the conclusion of this thrilling novel. Frankly, this novel is chilling to the core, so hard-hitting, so personal, so unsettling throughout. I didn’t expect to be so moved, so disturbed, so confused with my own responses to this book. Full review to soon. ★★★★★
Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?
The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.
Just One Day, Just One Year, & Just One Night by Gayle Forman
I raced through this duology in a matter of days whilst holidaying in Spain. I was immediately enthralled with the relationship between Allyson and Willem from the outset, as I often am with any good YA romance. However, this series grew to be something much more – something less about romance, and more about self-love, and self-discovery. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.
The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
I recieved this book for Christmas 2015, and read it early this year, invested in every moment, every turn of a page. Never before have I been so enthralled in a book about zombies. For context, I used to avoid zombie movies and books at all costs, thinking they were cheesy and unrealistic. The Girl with All the Gifts completely changed my attitudes towards this genre. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the movie. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
I still have dreams about this book, about how so many moments in history are ignored or supressed or disregarded. It remains in my mind that at school, I learn about how WW2 affected my country, but I have no understanding of how it affected other people. The countries less fortunate. The main targets of Hitler’s hate. Salt to the Sea opened my eyes to so many different cultures, and how all of them were affected by WW2, whilst striking my emotions so profounding, there’s still a gaping hole. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Much like Salt to the Sea, The Nightingale gave me an insight into how WW2 affected countries other than my own, for which I am endlessly grateful – I love learning about the culture of other places, especially the history, no matter how recent. In this case, I was reading about France from the native’s perspective, which was a stark contrast to other books I’d read set in the same country – Anna and the French Kiss, Just One Day, etc. Not only that, but this book features so many strong, admirable, spirited women that I am so inspired by everyday. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.
As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.
Scarlet, Cress, & Winter by Marissa Meyer
I read Cinder in 2015, and it didn’t even rank amongst my favourites for the year. However, when I continued with The Lunar Chronicals this year, I was completely taken aback. Each book was amazing, each chapter brimming with action. I couldn’t help but love very character, love every instalment to the series. Read my review of Scarlet here. ★★★★★
The Lunar Chronicles is a tetralogy of young adult fantasy novels written by American author Marissa Meyer. Each book entails a new take on an old fairy tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The story takes place in a futuristic world where humans, cyborgs, androids, and a race of moon colonists all coexist.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Never before have I grouped a book I read for school amongst my favourites. Never before have I felt such a connection to – such a resounding impact from – a book I read for school. I think a lot of my love for this book comes from studying it, though – I learnt all about the context, all about the inspirations that made this book not just a novel, but a construct. Not just a story, but a compilation of experiences and emotions. ★★★★★
On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl’s imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.
Wolf by Wolf & Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
I read Wolf by Wolf in the summer, and Blood for Blood very recently. Both were my first experience of alternate history fiction, and what a great first impression they made! Both stories were exhilerating and heartbreaking, action-packed and brimming with emotion. I never wanted to put either of them down. Read my review of Wolf by Wolf here. ★★★★★
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.
Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.
But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
The Martian by Andy Weir
When I saw this novel in a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, something drew me to it, and pretty much forced me to buy it. Yes it was on my TBR already, but I wasn’t as drawn to its synopsis – wasn’t as eager to read it – as I was to many other books on that same list. But I am so pleased that I did pick up this book on that day, because – as soon as I started it – I knew I was in for a treat, was about to read something special. And hilarious. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I’ve mentioned many times how I strumbled across this book, and read it on a whim. I have also mentioned many times how much I love this book. This is definitely a classic coming of age novel, but the addition of diversity made it that much more astounding. I am so glad I randomly decided to read this novel. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
This book is definitely a slow-burner, focussed much more on plot and politics than quickfire romance and one-liners. In short, this book took me by surprise. Watching everything build up to the conclusion left me in antincipation throughout, ready for everything to be triggered at once. This is probabaly the most political novel I read this year, but I loved it, and I loved how it all came to a close. Read my review of The Winner’s Curse here. ★★★★★
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This is another novel that took me by surprise, and another post-apocalyptic novel that I loved. The main reason this book still stands out to me is from Emily St. John Mandel’s ability to interweave so many plots so seamlessly, and to follow such a large story in such a unique way. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Twenty years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Before moving onto the top 3 novels I read this year, I have decided to mention some of my favourite books of the year that didn’t quite make my top 16. Here they are:
The Dogs I Have Kissed by Trista Mateer. My favourite poetry read of the year. I actually read it twice. Read my review here. ★★★★☆
Landline by Rainbow Rowell. This is the first Rainbow Rowell book I have read that is aimed at adults, and I loved it endlessly. I actually rave about this novel to my friends quite frequently. Read my full review here. ★★★★☆
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff. Both the book and the movie were stunning. Read my full review here. ★★★★☆
Summer Days and Summer Nights, edited by Stephanie Perkins. The follow up to My True Love Gave to Me, I was destined to love this collection of love stories. This anthology dominated my summer reading. Read my full review here. ★★★★☆
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. This is the second book I’ve read by Nicola Yoon, and the second 5-star rating I’ve given her. This novel was the perfect story to get me out of my reading slump, and cheer up my winter blues. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I bought this book on the same day that I bought The Martian, again drawn to a novel I’d never really considered before. This novel was amazing, and a insight into autism that I’ve never had before. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. This is the second novel I read of Matson’s in 2016, and my second favourite (after Since You’ve Been Gone). This was the perfect summer read. I really want Matson to release a new book every summer. That would be the dream. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling. This is another read from late on in the year, and I just had to mention it – it’s Harry Potter! Though this was a script, and, admittedly, not as good as the core 7 books, I still really enjoyed this fun glimpse into Harry’s future. ★★★★☆
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
In 3rd place – taking the bronze award – is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s newest series in the Shadowhunter world, which I adored. This time, we step away from girl-becomes-a-Shadowhunter, and towards Emma, a girl who has always been a Shadowhunter, but is still struggling with her identity. This novel was thrilling, and the perfect beginning to a new series. Roll on, Lord of Shadows! Read my full review here. ★★★★★
In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.
A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.
Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.
Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
In second place – and taking the silver award – is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, possibly my most frequently mentioned book on this blog ever. I adored this novel from beginning to end, loving its wit and humour, as well the passion and deep emotion it harbours. This is definitely my favourite Rainbow Rowell book not only of 2016, but ever. Read my full review here. ★★★★★
Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here – it’s their last year at Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a love letter to love stories and the power of words – to every ‘chosen one’ who ever had more on their mind than saving the world…
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
We’ve reached the number 1 spot! From the prologue of The Raven Boys, I knew I was reading something special, and this series soon became my favourite of all time. I don’t have a bad word to say about it. I actually finally bought myself physical copies of this series yesterday in celebration of the end of the year, and all the great books I’ve read in it. Read my review of The Raven Boys here, and my review of The Raven King here. ★★★★★
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Gansey is different. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
And that’s it, that’s everything – all of my favourite books of the year. I really hope you enjoyed this post!
Tell me in the comments what your top book of 2016 is!