Hello everyone, it’s that time again, the time when we take the arbitrary ending of the year on the calendar and make a big deal out of it. But hey, there’s no better excuse for a “best of” list! So today, I want to share with you my favorite 2012 YA books. I read lots of other books this year (more on that soon), but these are my favorite books that were published in 2012. Of course, this is in no way scientific, because I didn’t read anywhere near all the books published in 2012. I have to get work done sometime. But having said that, without further ado … let’s start with dragons! I read two fantastic books involving dragons this year! The first was Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey, the sequel/companion to the fantastic Dragon’s Keep (2007). In Dragon’s Keep, our heroine Princess Rosalind, a Pendragon, was born with a dragon’s claw, which she had to keep hidden on pain of death. Much action, romance (but not too much romance), and frolicking with dragons ensued. In Dragonswood, Carey returns to the same world two generations later. The heroine is a peasant who flees an accusation of witchcraft and finds romance and a connection to both dragons and fey. The historical world of Wilde Island is just as well realized as in the original, and the author has expanded on the world she created. Both books are must reads!
And then, later in the year, we got Seraphina! Seraphina is even more about dragons. I loved the way Rachel Hartman created a realistic historical, yet pleasingly modern world in which science plays as much a part as magic. Like the heroine in Dragon’s Keep, Seraphina has a secret connection to dragons. In this world, dragons can fold themselves into human shape and mate with humans. To be frank, I had a huge problem with that premise because … physics! Mass! Biology! But I took a deep breath and got over it and allowed myself to get lost in the story. The world Hartman created is extremely well imagined and intricate, but the story never gets bogged down. Even though I’ve seen dragons before, the world felt completely new and fresh. Also, it’s the first book in a trilogy, but it has a satisfying ending that completely wraps up the plot. I’ve become extremely annoyed with the current trend of ending books in mid story, and I was super happy to see that Seraphina did it’s job and finished. All in all, a fantastic book!
Leaving dragons for the time being, the next book on my list is Every Day, by our New School professor David Levithan. In Every Day, our hero “A” jumps from body to body every night at midnight. Why? I never stopped to wonder, which is a credit to the fantastic writing. Every day our hero takes over a new person’s life, always the same age as A, which is sixteen. A has no intrinsic gender or sexual orientation, but after a lifetime of experiencing people’s lives in day-long snippets, he/she/it suddenly falls in love with a girl. Yes, suddenly. It’s YA insta-love, and like with giant reptilian dragons suddenly turning into tiny mammals, I just had to get over it. Once you accept the love, you get to experience all the interesting complications. How do you develop a real relationship with someone if you’re a different person and in a different place every day? This book really got me thinking “what if?” Levithan, unsurprisingly considering his wild optimism in Boy Meets Boy, chooses to see A’s predicament as bringing out the best in A’s human nature. A’s experiences in the bodies of different people make him thoughtful and understanding. I’m not so sure I would behave as well as A if I jumped into other people’s bodies. I think I might party hard and screw the consequences. But not A! He takes good care of the people he borrows. Until he falls in love, and his careful system threatens to fall apart. Will A get the girl? You’ll want to read this and find out!
And finally, my absolute favorite book of the year is The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson. I already reviewed the book here, so I won’t go into great detail again. Let me just say that I tend to read more fantasy than realistic fiction, so it’s a big deal that a realistic book ended up on the top of my list. I haven’t read a book with a better mix of sadness and humor. On its surface it’s a book about a girl dealing with the death of her best friend, but Johnson tells the story in such a way that it becomes about what it means to be a person dealing with life’s stuff. The main character’s voice is absolutely perfect.
Well, that’s my list! What were your favorite 2012 books? Is there anything that we here at Teen Writers Bloc absolutely must read?