LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Angie Thomas, Nina LaCour, & Garth Nix | Audio in Advance February 2017 | Young Adult

23197872__1481233600_32912Arcos, Carrie. Crazy Messy Beautiful. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524749781. Read by Michael Crouch.
Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old aspiring artist Neruda Diaz has been in love many times before. So it’s only a matter of time before someone loves him back. Callie could be that someone. She’s creative and edgy, and nothing like the girls Neruda typically falls for, so when a school assignment brings them together, he is pleasantly surprised to learn they have a lot in common. With his true love in reach and his artistic ambitions on track, everything is finally coming together. But as Neruda begins to fall faster and harder than ever before, he is blindsided by the complicated nature of love—and art—in more ways than one. 

Belleza, Rhoda. Empress of a Thousand Skies. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524750923. Read by Rebecca Soler.
Gr 9 Up—Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne. Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life. With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

Bergstrom, Scott. The Cruelty. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427283245. Read by Therese Plummer.
Gr 8 Up—High school student Gwendolyn Bloom doesn’t believe in heroes—until her father vanishes and she must become one. Under a new identity, and battling her way through Europe’s criminal underworld, Gwen is determined to find him. Or die trying.

Castaldo, Nancy F. Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781520064888. Reader TBA.
Gr 7 Up—Castaldo delves into the minds of animals and explores animal empathy, communication, tool use, and social societies. Researchers from Charles Darwin to Jane Goodall have spent years analyzing the minds of animals, and today’s science is revolutionizing old theories and uncovering surprising similarities to our own minds. Humans are not alone in our ability to think about ourselves, make plans, help each other, or even participate in deception. 

Cavallaro, Brittany. The Last of August. (Charlotte Holmes, Bk. 2). Blackstone. ISBN 9781470859558. Read by Graham Halstead.
Gr 7 Up—Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

9780525425892__1481233498_45446LaCour, Nina. We Are Okay. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524749941. Read by Jorjeana Marie.
Gr 9 Up—Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Livingston, Lesley. The Valiant. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524749903. Read by Fiona Hardingham.
Gr 9 Up—Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary fighter Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed by the armies of Julius Caesar. On the eve of her 17th birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance. Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival. Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.   

Moracho, Cristina. A Good Idea. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524755119. Reader TBA.
Gr 9 Up—Fin and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates. Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk. But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. 

Nielsen, Susin. Optimists Die First. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524723040. Read by Julia Whelan.
Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you. The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk.

Nix, Garth. Frogkisser! Listening Library. ISBN 9781524702021. Reader TBA.
Gr 9 Up—Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two.

Rubin, Lance. Denton Little’s Still Not Dead. Listening Library. ISBN 9780553556056. Read by the author
Gr 9 Up—Denton Little lives in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day on which they will die. The good news: Denton has lived through his deathdate. Yay! The bad news: He’s being chased by the DIA (Death Investigation Agency), he can never see his family again, and he may now die anytime. Huh. Cheating death isn’t quite as awesome as Denton would have thought.

41ctgemfol-_sx329_bo1204203200___1481233782_27146Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Blackstone. ISBN 9781470827137. Reader TBA.
Gr 7 Up—Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

Younge-Ullman, Danielle. Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined. Listening Library. ISBN 9781524749828. Read by Phoebe Strole.
Gr 9 Up—Then: Ingrid traveled all over Europe with her opera star mother, Margot-Sophia. Life was beautiful and bright, and every day soared with music. Now: Ingrid is on a summertime wilderness survival trek for at-risk teens: addicts, runaways, and her. She’s fighting to survive crushing humiliations, physical challenges that push her to her limits, and mind games that threaten to break her. Then: When the curtain fell on Margot-Sophia’s singing career, they buried the past and settled into a small, painfully normal life. But Ingrid longed to let the music soar again. She wanted it so much that, for a while, nothing else mattered. Now: Ingrid is never going to make it through this summer if she can’t figure out why she’s here, what happened to Margot-Sophia, and why the music really stopped.

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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.

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