With 2016 now officially upon us, I can finally write a ‘best of 2015’ post without the worry that I’ll read one last book and it’ll be phenomenal but I won’t be able to include it because I already wrote the post about all my favourite books of 2015. Make sense?
I read a lot of really awesome books this year, some of which were new releases, others were a few years old. I think I fell more in love with contemporary YA as a genre this year, and also discovered some fantastic Aussie fiction as well. Aside from having some fairly long-term reading slumps, this was a pretty good year for me book-wise, with plenty of 4- and 5-star reads.
These are the books that I loved a lot, but didn’t quite hit the same levels as some of the other books I read this year. I still think that they deserve a mention though, so without further ado…
One of the librarians at my local library gave this book a glowing recommendation when she saw I was borrowing it, and Graffiti Moon was just as good as she said it would be. It’s one of those books I feel like I’ve known about forever, but I’m glad I waited until this year to read it. Fantastic writing, well-crafted characters and this gentle bittersweet feeling made me love Graffiti Moon, and wish that I had my own copy of it so I can reread it over and over. I almost feel like this book would be one that I’d need to read a few times to completely fall for.
Book two in the Spark trilogy, this was everything I could have wanted in a sequel. I think Spark remains my favourite, just because everything was new, but I still absolutely adored Stray. New developments, new characters, new twists, I couldn’t put it down. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer influence is evident in the really awesome, well-developed female characters, as well as in the action scenes, even if Stray is decidedly more sci-fi. Both intelligent and action-packed, this one of my favourite trilogies.
This one might have done a little better than being an honourable mention had I read it later in the year – Dangerous Boys was, I believe, something like the third or fourth book I read in 2015, so time has dulled my memory of it a little. But I loved the moral ambiguity of it, and it was an absolutely compelling read. One that I ought to revisit at some point.
This book was a lot of fun. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you want from a book. A gorgeous, witty sense of humour propelled this story, and made it simply a joy to read. I loved the character development in this one, every character, even the minor ones, was complex and different, and contributed something important to the story. Intelligent, well-written, and ultimately super enjoyable, this book was one of my favourite reads from the tail-end of 2015.
There’s something really powerful and compelling about Vikki Wakefield’s writing. On the cover of my copy of Friday Brown there’s a quote from Melina Marchetta that mentions the “gutsy characters”, and I am yet to find a better word to describe All I Ever Wanted. Emotionally raw, honest, unpolished, this kind of book is what I feel YA is all about. A beautiful coming of age novel.
Maybe it’s my inner hipster, but I always get a little sceptical when a book receives as much hype as Illuminae received around the time of its release. Said hype was well-deserved though, because Illuminae was absolutely fantastic. It was visually stunning, and the use of different formats – interviews, emails, instant messaging, documents – to tell a story was used brilliantly. There was some fantastic humour, complexity and worldbuilding in this novel, and I’m excited for book two.
I had no idea what to expect with this novel, I was just hoping that it would be humorous and/or zany rather than preachy. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about, because The Reluctant Hallelujah had everything I could have wanted. Dodie’s voice was vivid and engaging, and there was just the right blend of absurdity and genuine heart to make this a really memorable novel, and one of my favourite reads of 2015. The final few lines of this book are some of my favourite out there.
This is another one that fits into the zany category. But the bizarreness of Noggin is what makes it work so well – it’s the juxtaposition of humour and heartbreak, absurdity and human consequences. This was one of the few books that had me laughing one minute then crying the next, and I thought that there were a lot of ideas that were explored really in depth. I realised that this is the only novel in my list of favourites from 2015 which isn’t Australian, which I find kind of interesting.
As difficult as it is to choose a favourite book of 2015, I can’t really go past Fighting Ruben Wolfe. Cameron Wolfe is one of my all-time favourite characters, and I totally adore him, and his relationship with his brother Ruben. Fighting Ruben Wolfe is my favourite installment of the trilogy, and much like All I Ever Wanted there’s this rawness about it that goes right for the heart. It’s a pretty short book, just under 200 pages, but Cam’s world, and the characters who inhabit it are all developed, flawed, human, and I could go on forever about how much I love this book.
So there are my bookish highlights of 2015. I’m pretty optimistic about this year, because there are some really awesome-looking releases coming out, and there a number of older books I’m eager to look into that I’ve heard a lot of good things about. So long, 2015.