Gone by Michael Grant
I just finished this one yesterday. There are a whole bunch of other books to this series, and I've only read the first one so far, so I can't say anything about the series as a whole. But this one was pretty good! When searching for the book cover, I read that they have signed on for a TV series for these books as well, so there's something to think about if you're wanting to read it.
This book is if Lord of the Flies, Stephen King's Under the Dome, and the X-Men all got together in a blender... it you strained out all the adult content, you'd be left with this book. It's a super fast read (I read it in a day). A bit predictable, but fun. The premise is: one day everyone over the age of 15 just vanishes. And there's a barrier around the town. And some of the kids have super powers. Like I said... Lord of the Flies/Under the Dome/X-Men. A few of my favorite things! And maybe if you can read that tiny print at the top of the book, you can see where I heard about these series- that's a blurb from Mr. Stephen King himself. He recommended this series on twitter and I was reserving it on my kindle within ten minutes.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
I am obsessed with this series. I knew at the end of the first book (this one!) that it was something different and special and fantastic. I'm going to be brief and bulleted while I list some of the (many) reasons why I think this is one of the best YA book series I have read*.
- Strong (in a different way!) female POC main character. In fact, almost everyone in this series is a POC. Elisa, the main character, is more book smart and strategic than physically strong (think Hermione here). She's also not a skinny, pretty, white girl (movie Katniss, Tris, I'm looking at ya'll)- she's overweight (fat is a descriptor used often, by Elisa and others), and while it plays some into the plot in the beginning (people are HUGE JERKS to her, and her self-esteem, etc) it is not something that she feels needs to change- and for the most part, it doesn't. And it doesn't need to. And it shouldn't need to!
- The romance is not central to the story. It's there, but it isn't central. And Elisa don't depend on no mannnn to get her through her battles. She does grow and change throughout the series- it's wonderful to watch.
- This is YA, but it falls somewhere on the George R.R. Martin spectrum of plot development- there are a bunch of characters, and you'll get attached, but nobody is safe and you need to know that! The reason I picked this book up in the first place was because someone somewhere said something along the lines of "Game of Thrones-y for YA," and it immediately went onto the "on hold" page of my kindle library. Whoever that person was, they weren't lying.
Anyway, there's my bulleted points. I can't get over how much I loved Elisa as a protagonist- and all the other characters too (seriously, they're all wonderfully crafted, even the jerks). I zipped through this book in like a day, and then waiting (extremely impatiently) for the others (being waitlisted on the kindle is SO HARD to deal with)- to the point where I said "screw this" and actually left my house, drove to the library, and CHECKED OUT THE ACTUAL BOOK. I never do this. But I had to finish it. Then, once I finished the series, I read allll the little short stories that are available as well. I think there was three or four. THAT is how into this series I was. Go read it. It's refreshing.
*I put the little star here because cruising through the goodreads page, you can see that some people apparently hated this book. Whatever.