As I'm sure you all know by now, I'm a huge advocate for debuts. I've read so many amazing ones this year and sadly some of those books haven't gotten all the attention they deserve. Jenn Marie Thorne (debut author of the AMAZING novel The Wrong Side of Right) felt similarly, so today Jenn's sharing her Top Ten 2015 YA Debuts That Haven’t Been on Enough Top Ten 2015 Lists
Guest Post - Jenn Marie Thorne
As a member of the Fearless Fifteeners, I was lucky enough to get an early read of many of my fellow debuts’ books this year—and I was absolutely blown away. I remember flipping to the last page of quite a few of these ARCs, thinking, “This is going to be on all the ‘Best of’ lists this fall.”
I was right on quite a few counts, I’m pleased to say! It’s been so thrilling to see books like Mosquitoland, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Red Queen, More Happy Than Not, My Heart and Other Black Holes, Everything, Everything, and An Ember in the Ashes lighting up the 2015 recaps. But there were other books that absolutely knocked my socks off that I feel deserve wider recognition than they’ve gotten so far.
So here’s my very incomplete list of 2015 YA debuts that deserve a greater share of the world’s attention.
A gripping mystery and family drama told by a searching, broken and deeply unreliable narrator, this debut knocked the wind out of me on nearly every page. There is so much unique truth in this novel—from the moral weight of a baseball game to the truths about our families we refuse to acknowledge until it’s (almost) too late. My heart bled for Braden, and by the end of this debut, both of us were changed.
A powerful novel in verse, Skyscraping tells the story of a teen living in New York during the height of the AIDS crisis whose world is shattered when she learns of her own father’s diagnosis. It’s a rich, humane and moving book, bursting with immediacy, set in a time and place that needs to be remembered.
Sky and Phee are sisters living in Manhattan in the future, now a lethal minefield of POW camps, cults, cannibals and more. Alternating between their very different perspectives, along with the diary their mother wrote during the invasion and the months to follow, City of Savages is relentlessly paced, ridiculously inventive, and one hundred percent unputdownable.
There are two alternate lives lived in this novel—Fi, who wasn’t scarred in an accident as a child, and Fiona, who was. What follows is powerfully life affirming, intricately plotted, and both fun and heartbreaking, sometimes at the exact same time. Fi’s story and Fiona’s are quite different, but both made me swoon and cheer and cry.
Raised in a notorious cult, seventeen-year-old Minnow adjusts to life—not just in the outside world, but in the juvenile detention center where she awaits trial for a seemingly random assault. As Minnow comes to terms with the present, more and more details emerge about her past—along with resonant truths about blind faith, trust, female agency, and what it takes to survive unspeakable trauma. And the writing is the kind of gorgeous that matters most—I had to stop and reread several passages, jaw agape at how perfectly true they were.
Phoebe is a street-racer on a planet called Castra, wholly controlled by powerful, string-pulling corporations. You read this right…car racing. In space. If that’s not enough to sell you on this book, I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but as a capper, Tracked has extremely hot romance, intricate, gritty sci-fi worldbuilding, and more twists and turns than a grand prix course. In short—this book kicks serious ass.
Rubin takes a high concept premise in this debut—it’s our world, except everybody knows exactly what day they will die—and makes it not only completely believable but hilarious as well. My one sentence review of this book would be, “It’s funny because it’s true.” Denton is a completely real, living, breathing, huge-mistake-making teenage boy, which makes his last day on earth (or is it?) all the more riveting.
Yes, there’s a magical ability, a hidden community, an impossible-to-resist-but-she-really-should-resist-him boy, but let me tell you—Blood and Salt is one of a kind. Its details and rich language are totally idiosyncratic. I’ve never read another town like Quivara. Not sure it would be a great idea to go there in real life, especially since most people, you know, never make it back out, but I’m very glad I was able to visit it along with Ash Larkin through the pages of this unforgettable and ridiculously fun debut.
And speaking of ridiculously fun…this debut takes the cake. Set in an alternate sixteenth century England in which the practice of magic is punishable by death, the Witch Hunter is like a hybrid of The Tudors and Buffy, with a whole lot of extra fun thrown in that’s all its own. An incredible balance of heart-stopping action, romance, betrayal and heroism, this debut is also an incredibly smart historical mash-up. When I didn’t spot it on the Goodreads Fantasy nominations list this year, I was royally pissed. (See what I did there?)
[Brief disclaimer: Katelyn is my agent, whom I adore. But her debut stands on its own merits. So there.]
What happens when an ordinary teenaged girl—a virgin—finds out she’s expecting a child? No…seriously. An ordinary girl. Smart, brave, kind, but otherwise just like someone you’d know from school. And…what really happens? What would happen in real life to a girl like this? Immaculate is strikingly bold in its quietness, allowing you to see how a girl’s decision to be honest rolls through her family and her small town community in a way that feels completely authentic and plausible, and therefore stays with the reader for a good, long while.
About Jenn Marie Thorne:
Jenn Marie Thorne writes YA fiction from her home in beautiful Gulfport, Florida, alongside her dashing husband, her two daring toddlers, and her trusty hound Molly. An NYU-Tisch grad with a BFA in Drama, Jenn still enjoys making a fool of herself on at least a weekly basis. Other hobbies include writing about herself in the third-person, studying classical voice, learning languages, and traveling the world with her family. Her debut novel, THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT, is coming March 17, 2015 from Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin).
What are some of your favorite 2015 debuts? Which ones do you think were under-hyped?
Guest Post by Jenn Marie Thorne
Guest Post by Jenn Marie Thorne