This is not - NOT - a list of the "best" YA books of 2011, because there are so many I did not read! There are a whole bunch I really wanted to get to and just didn't manage: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Anna Dressed in Blood, Shine, many more. I'm a book behind on both of Cassie Clare's series. Beautiful Chaos has been on my nightstand since the day it was released but I haven't managed to open it. I think I'm two or three books behind on Sarah Dessen. I have a whole list of books I didn't manage to read. Maybe I'll do a midyear update of my favorite 2011 books I read in the first half of 2012, or something. And I've compensated for this issue in past years below the main list, with lists of pre-2011 books I read and loved this year.
And a disclaimer - I know almost all these authors to some extent. I work for one. I've worked with others at conferences. I've chatted with some on Twitter. I think the only one on the main list with whom I've had no contact is Deb Caletti (probably because she isn't on Twitter). I won't pretend that I managed to keep my feelings about the books completely isolated from my impressions of the authors, but none of them asked for good reviews or anything, and I would NEVER tell you I liked a book I didn't like.
So! Here we go! Instead of trying to write whole reviews of each book, because then I'd never finish, I will instead just give you a short list of elements that made me particularly like it.
1. The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan - Amazing sibling relationships, a hot lying older brother, urban fantasy, humor, the Goblin Market, a bookish boy, girls who are strong in different ways and both awesome and don't hate each other, and one of my favorite fictional couples EVER.
2. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - A geeky love interest, GLBT characters whose sexuality isn't An Issue, boy next door love interest, basically PERFECT romance.
3. Where She Went by Gayle Forman - Classical music, a hot but angsty rock star, a perfect mix of heartbreak and tragedy and romance and hope.
4. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - London, boarding school, humor, a really hot ghost, lots of murder.
5. Red Glove by Holly Black - A hot lying older brother (yes it's a theme), fascinating magical politics, organized crime, family drama, and a wonderfully conflicted, complex hero.
6. Stay by Deb Caletti - The ocean, sailor boys, a well-drawn father/daughter relationship, family secrets, and the best portrayal I've read of loving someone with mental illness.
7. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - Mystery, a ridiculously hot love interest, and so much total insanity (in a good way) that I can't say more without ruining it.
8. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson - Traveling around Europe, a mysterious hot guy, a nicely drawn portrayal of grief, non-hokey personal growth.
9. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab - Enchanting language, fairy tales, sibling love, a mysterious stranger, subtle social messages.
10. Past Perfect by Leila Sales - Historical reenactment villages, forbidden romance, imperfect but loving family relationships, lots of ice cream.
My Favorite 2010 YA Books I Read in 2011:
1. The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
2. Jane by April Lindner
3. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
4. White Cat by Holly Black
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Earlier YA Books I Read for the First Time & Loved in 2011:
1. The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
3. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
4. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon