I have narrowed my favorite books for 2018 down to just five—a huge feat, but when I realized that several others I enjoyed were by the same authors on my list, I quickly decided to bring my group to just five. This Best Of list is just the tip of a big stack of novels that really stood out this past year. We are lucky, we reviewers, to have so much quality work presented to us to entertain and feed our imaginations. Each of the works I chose span multiple genres, from sci-fi, to fantasy, to good old fashioned romance. Scattered amongst the group are young adult authors who really are making their mark in that genre. Without any regard as to which comes in first, in other words, in random order, I give you my Best of 2018 list—I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Authors Albertalli and Silvera have created a truly beautiful young adult coming of age and first love novel with What If It’s Us. While it doesn’t boast a classic happy ever after, I feel that fact made the novel about two seventeen-year-old boys even more refreshing and fascinating to read. This is a breathtaking novel about how two boys meet, lose one another, find each other again, and fall in love. It deals with all the ramifications of loving someone who you know will not be there after the summer’s end and yet who you find so incredibly right for you—someone who just fits despite all the heartache associated with having a relationship that you start out knowing has an expiration date. This book was a five-star read for me all the way. It was hopeful with genuinely realistic voices that made it feel like teenagers were presenting their story as opposed to authors pretending to be such.
Life Underwater by Mathew J. Metzger
I make no bones about the fact I love this author’s work and find it to be the best representation for transgender literature on the market today. Once again Metzger goes deep and gives us not only one, but two transgender main characters and highlights one that is asexual as well. He details with grace and precision what it is like to navigate this world as a person who has made the transition from female to male, but also to have a true aversion to the idea of physical sex. However, lest you think that means his characters do not understand or desire romance, you would be mistaken for Life Underwater is a beautiful story of love and acceptance and it falls at the top of my list this year.
Broken Moon series by F.T. Lukens
If you had told me a sci-fi fantasy series would head my best of list, I would have laughed out loud. However, I have to eat those words because these first two books, The Star Host and Ghosts & Ashes, have just floored me with how well-crafted they are and how fast they sucked me in. Definitely young adult in terms of characters and approach to sex, which while almost non-existent does not mean that there is no romance, the decisions facing the main characters are hardly child’s play. Faced with powers that are just beginning to surface, Ren finds himself misunderstood, a pawn to be used by powerful men wanting to control him and scared of how often he feels safer amongst the machinery of a spaceship than with human companionship. This is a first love, fledgling romance, action adventure space opera kind of ride and it is simply marvelous. I cannot wait to read the third and last book in this series—trust me when I say that the Broken Moon series by F.T. Lukens will make a sci-fi fan of you yet!
A Wish Upon the Stars by T.J. Klune
What can I say? The end of an era is what the release of this novel felt like to me. What will we do without Verania and all its lively, colorful, and zany characters? This is an epic ending to an outstanding fantasy series that many wished never had to come to an end. With knights and dragons, unicorns and giants, and one small man who is brave of heart and quick of tongue, author T.J. Klune gives us a grand ending to a series that has capture so many hearts, including mine. This was everything you might expect if you know this series and it was a five tissue cry for me. I loved it and, honestly, I think that about sums up why it should be at the top of any best of 2018 list.
A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese
Another release in the Men of Halfway House series by Jaime Reese rounds out my best of list. Again this is a group of books that I just loved. When this series began, I was hooked immediately on these stories relating how men who had done time in prison, unjustly, in most cases, return to the world and are housed in a place where two men have built their lives and are determined to smooth that transition for the ex-cons. Author Jaime Reese creates wounded men like no other author around—she gives them depth, real life struggle, and often a broken heart and shattered spirit in need of mending. Her stores are filled with hope, love, and second chances and always give the guy who had never been able to catch a break in life the means to rebuild himself and his future. This installment was no exception and deserved every one of the five stars it was given.