Unwanted Opinions of a YA Writer

I have written thirteen novels in the genres of YA fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. I am a biology student and spend 6-8 hours of my day talking to flies, so don't take any advice from me.
Heist Society - Ally Carter Very fun. Great elements of escapism, something not always found in contemporary stories. Is this seriously not a movie yet?
Finnikin of the Rock - Melina Marchetta This was pretty standard fare for a journey-type, classical fantasy. I saw most of the twists coming, but the story of the kingdom and the world-building was intriguing and compelling. There was a humor to the writing and dialogue that set it apart; I laughed out loud a couple times. I'm not really sure I liked Finnikin, but I enjoyed following him around and kind of wish we had stayed in his head all the time--the way we seemed to randomly switch point of views was jarring and some of them I didn't particularly like (like Froi's...was that really necessary?). Luckily that didn't happen too often and for the most part the story kept me hooked.PS Isaboe is an awful name (sorry not sorry)
Shades of Earth - Beth Revis This was my favorite. I think this series got better as it went along! Taking our main characters out of the setting of the first two books was a risk that could have made the book suck and fall apart, but it was really necessary and I think it turned out splendidly. A lot of characters that we've been waiting to see (well, two in particular) turned up at last, and the tired "evil military vs. peace-loving heroes" trope didn't turn out nearly as bad as I feared it would from the first few chapters. I felt a lot of the suspense and mystery from the first book creep back up; it was done in a new way, but it still felt true to the series. Even when I saw some of the bigger twists coming (because I watch and read a lot of sci-fi in the same vein as this), they still got me. Amy and Elder's romance has never been my favorite, but it got a lot better in this book as she finally stopped being so wishy-washy and weird while the book tried to convince us it was a romance for the ages.Mild spoilers to follow: I usually hate love triangles, but this one really wasn't and was resolved quite nicely, and at the beginning, something about the fact that Elder might have a rival delighted me. And speaking of...those last thirty pages were rough, man. Those blank pages--y'all know what I'm talking about. Every time I hit one I either physically hit the book or said something along the lines of "OK THIS ISN'T FUNNY ANYMORE." Even though I knew how it was going to ultimately end, some little part of me feared I was wrong. ALSO: this cover is gross. I want a pretty sparkly one like the last two. Come on, man.
My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick The romance was cute and the writing was pretty. The plot took a really long time to get going. In some ways I think it was justified, because it did require a build up for the most impact, but it could have definitely happened at least 50 pages sooner. I like precocious children as much as the next uterus-bearing person but the author definitely got carried away with some of the dialogue. Some of the tropes--boy from the wrong side of the tracks, loving poor family vs. cold rich one, etc.--seemed a little tired and I wish the author had played with them more. I also found Nan and Tim's storylines and the way they played out odd, especially Nan's. I'm not entirely sure why, but Nan's in particular felt like it petered out into inconsequential nothingness.
A Million Suns - Beth Revis A good sequel on par with the first book (and depending on how it goes, the third book could be the best yet). I like this series but I don't love it. The pacing is smooth and the plot catches me by surprise at least once a book; the writing is great and takes risks with the style and prose (ie The Page in this one), which I like. It gets bonus points for a PoC hero but negative points for a redheaded heroine (actually my least favorite trope in all of YA--if I'm not already into a series I've started putting books down when I discover they have this). Somehow I just find myself wishing the series had a little more heart. It's an intangible thing that separates series I'll reread over and over from series I enjoy the first time and am happy leaving it at that.Regardless, I'm really glad I read this when the last book is already out! The first thing I did after finishing this was put Shades of Earth on hold at the library. I'm really excited and nervous about where it could go and I think it'll probably meet my expectations!
The Luxe - Anna Godbersen It is what it is--and the book blurb (and its gorgeous cover) tells you as much! There were lots of pretty girls in pretty dresses and mischievous boys. The Gossip Girl comparisons are not without reason, and if you know that going in, your expectations will be met.Besides all the pretty dresses--and don't get me wrong, there are a lot--there are also balls and engagements and secret affairs and all that good stuff. It honestly made me wish I had a dressmaker who would make me an elaborate fancy gown for my "coming out" ball where I get to drink champagne and gossip behind lace fans. Alas. The writing was descriptive and vivid, and the narrative structure of the book (ie "giving away" the ending at the beginning) was clever and had me hooked, wanting to figure out how it had happened. I probably should have seen the "twist" at the end coming, but I was a little caught up in all the dresses. It was a nice surprise and ended on a good note.
Beastly - Alex Flinn As a retelling this was painfully literal, so much so that I half-expected the singing household items from the Disney version to pop up. A story like Beauty & the Beast in particular has so much metaphorical potential when placed into modern-day NYC, but instead the author played it very safe. The characters were not particularly nuanced or gripping and, while I don't even particularly like bad boy heroes, this one lost all of his edge and, along with it, anything that made the book stand out. Also I thought his constant obsessive thoughts about Lindy being "the one" to be a bit creepy and manipulative, and the way she ended up in his house was very contrived and--again--painfully literal to the original tale. I would have preferred a love story that felt more organic.