Let me just say that picking only five books was so difficult, as I read many five star books this year! However, after much thinking I narrowed it down (plus a few honorable mentions) and am happy with my list. If you would like to read my full spoiler free reviews, I have linked them below in the title of the books. These are not in a certain order, I just randomly picked.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen is about a girl named Mare who is a “Red”. In this world there are people with silver blood, who are royalty, and people with red blood, who are commoners. People with silver blood have abilities and that is one of the reasons that they are the elite. Mare, however, has abilities even though her blood is red. In this book she has to try to hide this fact from the Silvers while being stuck in the midst of them. I love the action, the world, and the romance in this book. I have read the second and third books too and really enjoyed them as well!
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
This Savage Song is about a split city full of monsters, and two people trying to survive. August Flynn is the son of the leader of one half of the city and a monster that can steal someone’s soul just by playing his violin. He hates this about himself, and so desperately wants to be human. Kate Harker is heir to the other half of the city, and wants to be as merciless as her father. This book is about the two sides of the city trying to keep an eye on each other and one-up each other. This story was deeper and more mature than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise. It goes into psychological matters that I found interesting. I have read both books in this duology and it has become one of my favorite series of all time. Definitely recommend it!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
This series is adorable! I read all three books in 2019 and even though I did love the second two books, the first is definitely my favorite. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is about a girl name Lara Jean. She is a romantic, but is extremely shy, so instead of confessing her love to her crushes, she writes love letters to them that she hides in her closet. However, one day all the letters are sent out, causing some of the recipients (including her best friend/sister’s boyfriend) to confront her. This book includes wonderful relationship dynamics (familial, friends, and lovers), a great cast of characters, and realistic scenarios. Every character seemed so REAL and I love that about this book. It is one of my favorite romance series, and the first two movies are quite great as well.
SLAY by Brittney Morris
SLAY is about a 17-year old girl named Kiera. She is one of the only black students at her high school. However, when she gets home, she is secretly the creator of an online game called SLAY where she is joined by thousands of Black gamers. No one knows. Not her family, her friends, or even her boyfriend. So when a teenager is killed over a dispute involving SLAY, her life is turned upside down. Everyone in the world immediately wants to know who she is and are split between celebrating her and wanting her to pay for the teen’s death. This book discusses Kiera’s struggle with who she is as a person. This struggle is discussed and analyzed throughout the book with many different characters. This story has a lot of suspense and mystery, as well as humor throughout it. It opened my eyes to struggles that I have never experienced, and I think that everyone should read, as it is a wonderful fun book with an incredibly unique game (as a gamer, I had a ton of fun reading about it. However, you don’t have to be a gamer to understand the game), it is an eye opener, and powerfully empowering story celebrating all different types of Blackness.
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
The Arc of a Scythe series is such an incredibly interesting series. In 2019 I read both Thunderhead and The Toll, and honestly preferred Thunderhead. I will discuss the plot of Scythe, just to not give spoilers of what happens. Scythe is a story of a world so advanced that death has been beaten. No one really dies of natural causes any more (there are some exceptions but I am not going to go into those). People are even “ageless” since they can’t die of old age and can rewind time and become any age they want to be. However, since they are still having children, the population has to be controlled somehow. That is where scythes come in. Scythes are people whose jobs are to keep the population in check by killing (“gleaning”) a certain number of people a year. This story follows Citra and Rowan who are unwilling apprentices to a scythe. They must learn the ways of the scythes and become one, or die. I love how this story was so thought provoking, the ideas of mortality and morality were discussed thoroughly throughout this book (and all of the others). The characters were amazing, the world was intriguing, and the plot of all three books continuously went places that I was not expecting. I would recommend the entire series to anyone who wants a fun but dark read.
Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
This series is my childhood, so I know very well that I am biased when I recommend this book. However, I do truly think that it is a fun, easy, short read that many people would enjoy. Into the Wild is a book about a cat named Rusty. Rusty is a house cat who wonders into the woods one day and encounters “clan cats”. He decides to join them and the story is about him learning the ways of being part of Thunderclan. I love the clan system in this book. There are four clans total that make up the forest, and they each have their own territory that they protect. The interactions between the clans, and sub-plots throughout the story are fun and surprising. I just love this book and all the books in the series that I have read. It is a middle-grade novel but I definitely believe that people that are older than that age group would still love it.
The Wicked King by Holly Black
I LOVE this sequel, possibly even more than the first one! However, again I don’t want to give spoilers, so I will be talking about the Cruel Prince right here. The Cruel Prince is about three human (or half human) sisters trying to survive in the world of the Fae. Jude and her two sisters were stolen from the human world when they were young and were then raised in the High Court of Faerie. Jude wants to belong in the court and become one of the greatest knights that the fae have seen. This story involves betrayal, sinister plots, fighting, cunning, and more. I love the magic and world of the Court and how Jude tries to be one of them. I have yet to read The Queen of Nothing, but I did enjoy the first two books very much.
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
Again, but Better is about a college girl named Shane who feels like she hasn’t been very successful in college. She just goes through the motions and doesn’t take many risks. However, when she sees a study abroad opportunity to London, she decides to be tenacious and go. This story is a beautiful one about courage, confidence, and self-improvement. It is about finding yourself, and getting over hurtles that are in your way. This book resonated with me because I somehow feel like certain decisions that I have made were not the best ones, and I wish that I had the courage to do certain things that I am too nervous to do. I think that many people can connect with this on some level, and so it is an extremely lovable book. This book is incredibly inspiring, and there is a twist in there that I don’t think a lot of people will expect.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Renegades is about a group of people (called Renegades) that have superpowers and are trying to establish peace in a dystopian society. Nova is a “villain” who wants to overthrow the Renegades because of a tragic event that happened in her past. Adrian is a Renegade boy that wants to do good and help people, while making the villains pay for hurting his loved ones. When they meet they both start to question themselves and their allegiances. I love the abilities in this book, there are so many of them and it is wonderful to see how each character uses them. The power struggle between the Renegades and the Villains is complex and enjoyable to read about. If you are a lover of superheroes, villains, complex moral qualms, plot twists, and a dash of romance, then this is the book for you!