As the year comes to a wrap, it’s time for the annual best books. So, here is a list of my favorite books that I’ve read this year.
- Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron —
It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
- I Rise by Marie Arnold —
A heartbreaking and powerful novel about racism and social justice as fourteen-year-old Ayo has to decide whether to take on her mother’s activist role when her mom is shot by police. As she tries to find answers, Ayo looks to the wisdom of her ancestors and her Harlem community for guidance.
Ayo’s mother founded the biggest civil rights movement to hit New York City in decades. It’s called ‘See Us’ and it tackles police brutality and racial profiling in Harlem. Ayo has spent her entire life being an activist and now, she wants out. She wants to get her first real kiss, have a boyfriend, and just be a normal teen.
When her mom is put into a coma after a riot breaks out between protesters and police, protestors want Ayo to become the face of See Us and fight for justice for her mother who can no longer fight for herself. While she deals with her grief and anger, Ayo must also discover if she has the strength to take over where her mother left off.
This impactful and unforgettable novel takes on the important issues of inequality, systemic racism, police violence, and social justice.
- Medusa by Rosie Hewlett —
Within the depths of the Underworld the formidable snake-haired Gorgon has finally had enough. Tired of being eternally and unjustly brandished a villain, Medusa has found the courage to face her tragic past and speak out. Determined to expose the centuries of lies surrounding her name, Medusa gives unparalleled insight into her cursed life, from her earliest memories and abandonment at birth, right through to her tragic and untimely death at the hands of the hero Perseus. Through telling her story, Medusa finally reveals the lost truth behind antiquity’s most infamous monster.
Medusa breathes new life into an ancient story and echoes the battle that women throughout millennia have continued to wage – the opportunity to simply be heard.
- Rage is a Wolf by K.T. Mather —
Sixteen-year-old Elaine Archer thinks the Earth might really be screwed. And she’s pretty sure sitting in a classroom memorizing Civil War battle dates isn’t gonna save it.
Desperate to do something meaningful, but not sure it will do any good, Elaine talks her moms into letting her drop out of school to write a novel. Spending her days circling Chicago in search of her story, she discovers a universe of people and ideas she’d never have encountered behind the doors of D.B. High. As her understanding of the complexity of the world and relationships deepens, so does her fear that she might not have what it takes to make any difference at all.
Rage Is a Wolf is the biting, hilarious story of a teenage girl trying to answer life’s questions—Is not telling your best friend something the same as lying to her? Can you have a crush on more than one person? Why is the movie Aliens so perfect? What’s the point of sex? What’s the point of life? Can one person change the world? Can a story? Can love?
- Skyhunter by Marie Lu —
The Karensa Federation has conquered a dozen countries, leaving Mara as one of the last free nations in the world. Refugees flee to its borders to escape a fate worse than death—transformation into mutant war beasts known as Ghosts, creatures the Federation then sends to attack Mara.
The legendary Strikers, Mara’s elite fighting force, are trained to stop them. But as the number of Ghosts grows and Karensa closes in, defeat seems inevitable.
Still, one Striker refuses to give up hope.
Robbed of her voice and home, Talin Kanami knows firsthand the brutality of the Federation. Their cruelty forced her and her mother to seek asylum in a country that considers their people repugnant. She finds comfort only with a handful of fellow Strikers who have pledged their lives to one another and who are determined to push Karensa back at all costs.
When a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? Or could he be the weapon that will save them all?
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black —
Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Did any of your favorites make the list? What were your favorite books of 2021? Leave a comment below!