2016 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults

The Young Adult Library Services Association recently released the 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults list. This year’s list features a diverse ranges of topics and genres published for young adults in the past 16 months. I enjoy looking at the BFYA lists every year because I know the selection committee spends countless hours reading through hundreds of YA novels to formulate a list that celebrates the diversity of young adult fiction. I especially look forward to the Top Ten BFYA each year, as many of the books would not be my first pick off of a shelf. It has helped to expose me to some extremely talented YA authors.

My three favorite books from last year’s Top Ten list were I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Story of Owen the Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston, and The Carnival of Bray by Jessie Ann Foley. I eagerly anticipate to read more works from each of these great authors.

Since I haven’t read any of the novels on this year’s Top Ten list, I am excited to see which ones will be my favorite. Be sure to cast your vote at the end of the post on which one of the books I should read first. 

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  1. Audacity 

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Author: Melanie Crowder 

# of pages 400

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Awards: 2105 National Jewish Book Award finalist

Quick Synopsis: This novel-in-verse fictionalizes the teen years of Clara Lemlich Shavelson, the leader of the New York shirtwaist strike of 1909. Fleeing from anti-Semitic Russia, the teen and her family struggle to adapt to their new home.

What Reviewers are Saying

“It’s thrilling to watch this young woman grow from questioning her role as an untutored Jewish daughter to a firebrand.” –The Washington Post
“This book stands alone….an impactful addition to any historical fiction collection.”–School Library Journal, starred review

2. Bone Gap

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Author: Laura Ruby

# of pages 368

Publisher: Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray

Awards: Michael L. Printz Award and National Book Award Finalist

Quick Synopsis: In a small town full of strange happenings, Finn is determined to uncover the mystery of Roza’s disappearance.

What Reviewers are Saying

"Told from the viewpoints of multiple Bone Gap citizens, this inventive modern fable combines elements of folklore, mythology, romance and feminism....Both Roza and Finn's love interest, Priscilla, develop over the course of the magically real journey into strong women to be reckoned with.... Cleverly conceived and lusciously written."   —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Ruby's enigmatic novel weaves together the brutal realism of small-town cruelties and sexual violence with the best kind of dreamlike folk magic, inflecting the hard parts with fairy tale softness...and shimmering, hopeful mysticism. With rich characters, captivating world building, and a stunning secret at its heart, Bone Gap is utterly bewitching." —Booklist, starred review 


3. Challenger Deep

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Author: Neal Shusterman

# of pages 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Awards: National Book Award Winner and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book

Quick Synopsis: As Caden descends into mental illness, his visions of descent into the deep waters of a trench takes over.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

"A brilliant journey across the dark sea of mental illness; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary.” — Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Spea

“Clearly written with love, the novel is moving; but it’s also funny, with dry, insightful humor. Illustrations by the author’s son Brendan, drawn during his own time in the depths of mental illness, haunt the story with scrambling, rambling lines, tremulousness, and intensity.” — Horn Book, starred review


4. More Happy Than Not

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Author: Adam Silvera

# of pages 304

Publisher: Soho Teen

Quick Synopsis: After enduring his father’s suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, 15, is already considering the Leteo Institute’s memory-altercation procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

"A beautiful debut novel [that] manages a delicate knitting of class politics through an ambitious narrative about sexual identity and connection that considers the heavy weight and constructive value of traumatic memory... Aaron's Bronx universe [is captured] with a precision that feels at once dreamy and casually reportorial... mandatory reading." —The New York Times Book Review

“Every now and again I read a book that requires me to drink several glasses of water afterward, because I’ve cried myself dehydrated. This is one of those books.” –BOOKRIOT

5. Shadowshaper

Author: Daniel Jose Older

#of pages 304

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Quick Synopsis: Sierra Santiago was amped on her summer of painting murals and having fun with friends, before noticing the murals were fading faster than normal. Another street artist named Robbie is the only one who can help her to unlock this mystery.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

“Poetic and magnetic, Daniel José Older’s prose integrates authentic street dialogue, Spanish phrases, and vivid descriptions of the setting and its multicultural inhabitants as the action unfurls with scintillating suspense and a salsa beat.”- School Library Journal, starred review

“Even if readers don’t recognize Older’s crafty commentary, they will find plenty to like in the unique fantasy elements, entertainingly well-wrought characters, and cinematic pacing. Smart writing with a powerful message that never overwhelms the terrific storytelling.” -ALA Booklist, starred review


6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Author: Becky Albertalli

# of pages: 320

Publisher: Harper/Balzer and Bray

Awards: William C. Morris Award Finalist and National Book Award Longlist

Quick Synopsis: Simon is falling in love for the first time. Over email, if that’s even possible.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

"Delightfully funny and at times heart-wrenching. Readers will ache for Simon’s awkwardness, cheer his small triumphs, but, most of all, fall in love with this kid and with this remarkable gift of a novel. -Andrew Smith, author of Grasshopper Jungle

I have a massive crush on Simon Spier, Becky Albertalli’s vividly real hero of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Sadly, I’m not his type and he’s in love with someone else. But I love you, Simon. I love you! And I love this fresh, funny, live-out-loud book. -Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places


7. Six of Crows

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Author Leigh Bardugo

# of pages: 480

Publisher: Holt

Awards: A #1 New York Times bestseller

Quick Synopsis: Presented an offer too lucrative to refuse, gang leader Kaz Bekker and his team of convicts, runaways, and thieves set out to smuggle an imprisoned scientist from an impenetrable Fjerdan fortress, only to face treachery and betrayal along the way.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

“Taking what could have been stock characters of young adult fiction—the loner, the rebel, the outcast, and the con artist, the author has fashioned fully fleshed out, dynamic protagonists who will engage and enchant readers. What a thrill it is to return to the world she created with her popular “Grisha Trilogy” (Holt).” – School Library Journal, starred review

“This has all the right elements to keep readers enthralled: a cunning leader with a plan for every occasion, nigh-impossible odds, an entertainingly combative team of skilled misfits, a twisty plot, and a nerve-wracking cliffhanger.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

8. The Boy in the Black Suit

Author Jason Reynolds

# of pages 272

Publisher:  Atheneum

Awards: Coretta Scott King Author Honor book

Quick Synopsis: To deal with his mother’s passing, Matt accepts a job at the local funeral home. Maat meets Lovey at her grandmother’s funeral. The two of them share a bond that will help them both to move past their own respective losses.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

"A vivid, satisfying and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption and grace. Kirkus Review

"Matt is a wonderfully sympathetic, multidimensional character whose voice is a perfect match for the material and whose relationships with Love and Mr. Ray—also a fascinating character—are beautifully realized. This quiet story is clearly a winner." -Booklist

9. The Bunker Diary

Author: Kevin Brooks

# of pages 264

Publisher: Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab

Quick Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Linus Weems is kidnapped and transported to an underground bunker, where he is joined by five other kidnapping victims. Where are they? Why have they been taken? And can they survive?

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

“Brooks' latest is not an easy novel, but it's one that begs for rereading to suss the intricacies of its construction of plot, character development and insight into the human condition." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Relentlessly bleak, this recent Carnegie Medal–winner fascinates, provokes, and horrifies as Brooks (iBoy) stays true to his nihilistic aims, pushing readers toward an inexorable conclusion." —Publishers Weekly

10. X: A Novel 

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Authors: Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

# of pages 384

Publisher: Candlewick

Awards: A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

Quick Synopsis: This is a fictionalized account of Malcolm X’s teen years poignantly presents the young man’s struggles with identity, racism, and crime.

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING

"An eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author’s honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection. -School Library Journal, starred review

“Malcolm inspired me with his eloquence, his wisdom, and his thirst for truth and righteousness. This powerful, page-turning story tells us how he discovered these qualities within himself.—Muhammad Ali

Which 2016 Top Ten BFYA book should I read first?
Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertli
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
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