Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Top 10 in 2012: Katie Goes to the Head of the Class

Katie probably wrote more book reviews this year than anyone else on TATAL, she's got a wide range of titles to choose from when she picks her top ten. Take a look at her picks for the best of the best of 2012:

There are a few books that I just didn’t get to this year. You know the sort, kinda like that boy or girl you’ve seen in the halls that everyone seems to just love and you just know you’d really hit it off with if you ever happened to have a class together (see: Code Name Verity). But the ones I did read... oh man, guys... the ones I did read were really, really great, which made this year’s ten a tough choice. In the end though, every book on here is one that I can’t wait to reach again (or already have). So without further ado, here are my superlatives for the exceptional YA Class of 2012.  

Most Likely to Study Abroad in College
Small Damages by Beth Kephart (see our full review)
Seville, Spain is draped in orange trees and paella is on the menu on the farm just outside the city in the pages of this book. This gorgeously wrought tale of teen pregnancy and making choices is to be savored. And then probably savored again. It’s one of the few titles this year that I wanted to reread from the beginning as soon as I got to the end.

Best World Building
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (see our full review)
This might be the first dragon book that I ever loved (with the exception of Harry Potter, which I don’t really consider dragon books at all). The dragons and humans in this tale are infinitely complex and fascinating, and Seraphina is at the crossroads of their worlds and things are about to come to a head.

Biggest Surprise
Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers (see our full review)
I’ve been waiting anxiously for R. L. LaFevers to complete her middle grade series about Theodosia’s adventures with ancient Egyptian mythology, so I was actually pretty bummed when I heard that project was on hold for a new YA series about assassin nuns. After reading it, though, all I can say is “Long live assassin nun stories!” (although I’d still like to know how things end for Theodosia, too).

Most Likely to Succeed
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen (see our full review)
This book is currently at the top of my reread list. I first picked it up back in January, and nearly a year later, I can’t get it out of my head. Reminiscent of Meghan Whalen Tuner’s The Thief, this is a series opener chock full of twists that’s not to be missed. Sage proves that success often doesn’t come easy but the quest for it can make for a remarkable ride.

Most Epic
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta (see our full review)
I still can’t find the words to sum up this book--it’s too epic, too sprawling, too brilliant, too awesome. The Lumatere Chronicles are quite simply the sort of books that you’ll want to return to again and again and again, because somehow in the midst of unspeakable darkness and suffering they reveal the best in humanity. Froi maybe embodies this better than any other character in the series. This is a standout.

Most Artistic
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (see more posts on this book)
Graffiti! Glass blowing! Poetry! This book is an exploration of art at its outermost limits wrapped in a one-night love story. Quite simply one of my favorite contemporaries in a long, long time.

Best Sense of Humor
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (see our full review)
I hemmed and hawed about including this one here--I was THAT MAD at the cliffhanger ending--but in the end, I just can’t quit thinking about Kami Glass. Kami has to be the funniest, spunkiest, most entertaining character I came across this year. And that’s reason enough to include this book on my top 10 list, but for all you doubters, I’ll also add that the mystery and paranormal elements here make for a suspenseful, unique read. Not to mention the cover rocks.

Best New Series
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (see our full review)
Don’t make me choose my favorite Raven Boy. I love them all. And Blue. And everyone who lives at 300 Fox Way. And I just want the second book in this series now. Pretty please?

The Diviners by Libba Bray (see more posts on this book)
1920s New York City. There is a murderer on the loose and teens with unique superpowers gathering in the city. Watching their paths cross as they race against the clock to stop the madman is compelling stuff, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.

Best Series Finale
The Crimson Crown by Cinda Chima Williams
It’s rare that a series can sustain itself over the course of four books without making me want to throw in the towel at least once when I feel like the author is adding conflict for the sake of conflict. That never happened in The Seven Realms Series. Although that didn’t stop me from putting off reading the final installment for weeks for fear that it would let me down in the end. I should have had more faith. The ending is every bit as surprising, well-thought out, and satisfying as I have come to expect from this author. Maybe even moreso. A happy ending to a happy year of reading.

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