Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top 10 Teen Books of 2012

This was a tough list to put together. To make decisions slightly less wrenching, I decided to limit this to fiction I read this year for the first time, specifically series openers or standalones- which is not to say that I didn't read some fantastic sequels and nonfiction this year, because I definitely did. Maybe next year I'll have time to read more of both of those, and add some new categories. I tried to think about a lot of different aspects before putting these books in order: how much I liked them, how well written I thought they were (not always the same things), how memorable they were, and how likely I am to reread them when I have more time (ha).

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Atmospheric, suspenseful, and violent, this thriller definitely got under my skin. I don't read much realistic or crime fiction, but I'm glad I made an exception for this dark tale of death in a small town.

 Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Another realistic fiction makes the list! In terms of character study this was one of the strongest books I read this year. Danforth excels at writing believable, recognizable teen angst without sugarcoating, melodrama, or preaching, and teen books dealing honestly with GLBTQ themes are always welcome (but too few).

 Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

What can I say, this book has some faults but I loved it anyway. It's a fun ride through an exciting new world, with plenty of fascinating people (and storm tigers) to meet along the way, plus a much needed and not (too) preachy environmental message. I can't wait for the sequel.
Zombies VS. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (Editors)

I read a bunch of anthologies this year, but for best premise, number of stories I loved, and best editing, this is hands down my favorite. These stories are funny, creepy, gross, thought-provoking and memorable, but it's the back and forth between Black (Team Unicorn) and Larbalestier (Team Zombie) that I really loved. Which team will you choose?

 Team Human by

 Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

 Blake claims her character Cas' last name is Lowood, but I think it's really Winchester (of the Sam and Dean Winchesters). He's got a great narrative voice, his very own Scooby gang, a witch for a mom, and ghost for a love interest. Top that, paranormal romances!

 For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

You can't go wrong with a Jane Austen retelling set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society. Oh, wait, come to think of it, you really, really could. Unless, of course, you're massively talented author and Austen aficionado Diana Peterfreund! Love her. Love the cover. Love Elliot North. Love this setting. Love all the tea drinking and farm equipment. Capital. 

 Across the Universe by Beth Revis

When I saw this author at NY Comic Con, she said something about being inspired by Agatha Christie when writing this deep space murder mystery, which just made me love it (and her) more. Not only was the sci-fi better in this book than any other I read this year (generation ships! Cryogenics! And it all made sense to layperson me!), but I found myself caring more about her characters and their problems than those of most other books this year. A great job all around, with sequels to squee over.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver/If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I decided to sneak both of these in by having a tie, which is more or less justified. Both knocked my socks equally far and dealt with girls looking death full in the face, albeit in very different ways. Before I Fall impressed me because I could not put it down despite it being a Groundhog Day-eqsue rehashing of the same day multiple times (I trope I normally hate to tiny bits), featuring the Queen Bees of the school, and with a hefty length. It was so, so good.

If I Stay was shorter, more intense, and in a way, simpler, with the heroine spending the majority of the book out of body and trying to decide whether or not to return to her injured body after a horrendous car accident. It's heartwrenching and emotional, and you will fall completely in love with her, her musician boyfriend, and most of all her family. Set in Portland, Oregon during the winter and in the music scene, this book has an authentic feel all its own- which makes the tragedy within hurt all the more.

Again, I'm not normally a fan of realistic fiction or tearjerkers, but these books transcend the genres and are just stunning.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

While I changed the order of this list several times, there was never a time that this wasn't in first place. Bray just nailed every single aspect of this book, from the blended genres (the historical setting is perfectly chosen, lovingly researched, and perfectly portrayed, while the elements of folklore, horror, and crime/mystery are all strong and complement each other well), the large cast of diverse characters, the pacing, and most of all, Evie.

Best. Character. Of. The. Year.

This book is like if someone put American Gods, Veronica Mars, and Chicago (or The Great Gatsby, or really anything that has flappers with that cool wavy hair) into a blender and then spiked it with gin. It's delicious and fantastic and I need more. More, I say!!

Honorable Mentions

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

And there you have it, my top teen books of 2012. How does it compare with your top ten? Is there something you loved that I didn't list or didn't review?


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