Graphene's success has shown that it is possible to create stable, single and few-atom-thick layers of van der Waals materials, and also that these materials can exhibit fascinating and technologically useful properties. Here we review the state-of-the-art of 2D materials beyond graphene. Initially, we will outline the different chemical classes of 2D materials and discuss the various strategies to prepare single-layer, few-layer, and multilayer assembly materials in solution, on substrates, and on the wafer scale. Additionally, we present an experimental guide for identifying and characterizing single-layer-thick materials, as well as outlining emerging techniques that yield both local and global information. We describe the differences that occur in the electronic structure between the bulk and the single layer and discuss various methods of tuning their electronic properties by manipulating the surface. Finally, we highlight the properties and advantages of single-, few-, and many-layer 2D materials in field-effect transistors, spin- and valley-tronics, thermoelectrics, and topological insulators, among many other applications.