Listed in ascending order, the following are my favourite books of 2011:
(Warning: spoilers ahead, though nothing too specific.)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone would rank high on this list based solely on the strength of Laini Taylor's fluid, evocative writing. Fortunately, Daughter of Smoke and Bone also features my favourite main character of 2011: blue-haired, artistic, impetuous Karou. While the romance is at times trite, its development is logical and undeniably beautiful. The books is also full of surprises, and the fantasy elements are beautifully interwoven with the Prague setting.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone breathes life into the increasingly predictable urban fantasy genre. It is unique and lovely, with a vivid cast of characters.
The first book considers the varied interpretations of gender, Eona's attempts to pass as a boy, and her struggle to overcome a crippling injury sustained during childhood. This second book in the duology is very much about Eona's reclaiming her female identity and settling into her heroine role. I found it even more engrossing than its predecessor.
Though not fast-paced, The Scorpio Races is lyrical, atmospheric, and compelling.
Really, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Divergent is attention-grabbing, fast-paced, and emotional, featuring a complex society and conflicted heroine. Based on these characteristics, it's also the only recently published dystopian book that actually warrants comparisons to The Hunger Games. I, you know, sort of liked Divergent. It's an okay book.
But seriously. Divergent is addictive. There's action, romance, a strong heroine, and plenty of potential for future books in the planned trilogy.
(Can Insurgent be published already? Please?)