Amazon has released their list of the best YA books of the year. They have selected 20 books as the best and also one book as the top pick for the year:
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Here are the other books in the Top 20:
After the Fire by Will Hill
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Sadie by Courtney Summers
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (9780525515029)
This shivery novel for middle-grade readers will give just the right amount of creepiness for kids reading Goosebumps. Ollie’s mother died in an accident last year, and Ollie found solace in her books, withdrawing from the kids who were her friends and not talking in class. Her father continues to create a warm home for her filled with fresh-baked bread and other treats. When Ollie meets a strange woman about to throw a book into the lake, Ollie rescues the book and runs away. She reads the book, learning about the “smiling man” and the deal that a local man made with him. When she heads out on a field trip with her class, Ollie is surprised to find herself on the farm in the book that has graves for the people in the story. On their way back home, the school bus breaks down and Ollie escapes with two other students from the clutches of the scarecrows and the smiling man himself. Can they avoid capture and find a way back home before nightfall?
There is so much to love about this book. It is so readable for kids, a story that is well-paced and actually frightening, but at just the right level for young readers. The scarecrows are particularly effective as they pivot to watch the children go by and come to life at night. The ghosts are eerie as is the hungry gray bus driver. Young readers will also appreciate Ollie’s growing connection to her mother through her mother’s broken watch, something that tells her what to do and by when. It’s a clever addition to the story, offering a sign of hope and a way out of grief.
Throughout the book, there are characters who will surprise readers by going directly against stereotype. First, there are Ollie’s parents with her domestic father and adventurous mother. Then the two children who accompany Ollie through her adventure are a jock who reads and quotes literature at just the right time and a girl who looks tiny and frail but can climb almost anything and is actually brave and strong. These unexpected little touches add up to a team that is unbeatable as they face real demons.
Written with rich prose that is a delight to read, this eerie tale will be enjoyed by any young reader looking for some spine tingles. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.