This book has it all -- nonstop action; a great plot; brutal, bloody fights; a cooler than cool main character; and lots of twists and turns. Kind of like The Hunger Games (spectator sports! battles! revolution!) but about a million times better -- and it's in outer space!
Book 1 of the Red Rising Saga
Amazing characters and a plot full of action that does not stop, this one is a must read. If you like adventure stories with a dash of fantasy/supernatural (but completely grounded in a very realistic world) and a plot with more twists and turns than a mountain road, give this one a look.
Book 1 of the Six of Crows duology
I adored Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and if it's even possible, I loved this book more. It's a gorgeous fantasy novel set in a richly developed world with characters you will love, admire, and root for. It takes a little while for Taylor to set the stage and for the story to get off the ground, but you'll be rewarded for sticking with it.
Book 1 of the Strange the Dreamer duology
This book was such a fun adventure/survival thrill ride (with a smidgen of romance). The format comprised of interview transcripts, memos, instant-messaging transcripts, diary entries, and more made for a unique read. (Don't let the size fool you -- it's a quick read with a lot of white space around the pictures, text messages, and such).
Book 1 of the Illuminae Files
It's a little gory, but if you can get past the exploding people, this darkly humorous and satirical book will not only make you laugh, but it will also make you think about how our society and media respond to disasters. The main character, Mara, is a snarky and sometimes annoying girl who makes a lot of bad decisions including some inappropriate coping strategies, but she describes the end of the world as she knows it in hilarious detail.
This book proves that you don't have to read fantasy to enjoy a story with dragons, because other than the dragons, this book depicts the life of a fairly ordinary modern high school student -- one who just happens to have a very special talent.
Book 1 of the Story of Owen Series
The author describes her book as "Little Women meets American Ninja Warrior in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt" while her publisher has pitched it as "Little Women meets Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games" -- but I would just say it's a great adventure fantasy story set in a unique world.
Book 1 of Court of Fives Series