Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Top 10 in 2012: Nico Names Names

There was a lot to love this year. It was like an excellent buffet where there was so many good things to try, I ran out of space before it was over. I've been editing these top tens and wildly adding books to my To-Be-Read pile. At this rate, I think it will probably be June before I get to start reading things from 2013. 

Here are the books that I loved complete with an extra helping at the end because, well, who doesn't like extra helpings? 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (see more posts here)
This book is a lot of people's favorite this year and there's a reason. Characters who stick with you and make you care about them and writing that makes you want to cut passages out and put them where you can see them all the time (luckily they make posters so you don't have to harm a book).

This is the one for your friends who think they've outgrown YA. You shouldn't miss meeting Hazel and Agustus, no matter how old or jaded you think you are.  This book will punch you in the gut and might leave you crying, but you'll be glad you read it.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (see the full review here)
Maggie wrote the TATAL best book of 2011, Scorpio Races and amazingly, she's back for more this year.

There are so many odd little bits and pieces in The Raven Boys that make it a joy to read. It's a book that I liked even better the second time when I could better take in all the details and wasn't freaking out about what was going to happen next. I want to know where each character is going and what they are each hiding and this is why it's one of my favorites of the year and why the second book is one of my most anticipated of 2013.

The Diviners by Libba Bray (see more posts here)
This book is a time machine. You open it and you are gone, *poof*, transported to 1926 NYC, no way around it. Libba Bray has created an entire world that is so creepy, gory, exciting and abso-tute-ly intriguing that you will fall into it the second you start paragraph one.

She's a master story weaver because there are so many moving pieces here that it could easily have felt cluttered and muddy, instead it's like having a 360 degree panorama of a story. I am counting the days till the next installment.

Black Heart by Holly Black (see the full review here)
Sometimes you start reading a series and by the time you get to the last book you can't even remember what you liked about it. That is not at all what happened with this series. Each book in The Curse Workers is wonderful.

I've gone on and on about my love of Cassel Sharpe and you should definitely read these books because of him. But, you should also read them because the world building is so cool and the plots are so tight that there's no fat at all. And now the whole series is out so you can devour it in one gulp.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (see the full review here)
This is the first of two books about soldiers (or their families) just on my favorites of the year. There were a whole host of books featuring this topic that came out this year and I think it's a trend we'll continue to see as it reflects so many young people in our country today.

The thing that I kept thinking about with this book was Travis' experience coming back from duty and still being the same age as his friends but feeling worlds older. It is one you will be thinking about after you read the last page.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (see the full review here)
Telgemeier is a genius at creating stories that ring true to middle school without being depressing and dour. Drama would be bright and vibrant even without her beautiful drawings, but the pair make for a technicolor production that pops off the screen.

Callie's life in middle school theater is one that lots of teens will recognize. She has friends and worries and dreams of creating a firing cannon for her play. As a former theater nerd, this one is a total fave.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (see the full review here)
This is my "Up All Night" book of the year. Ed and Lucy had one date years ago that ended in bloodshed, his. Yet, somehow the two of them end up walking around an Australian city late at night looking for graffiti. It's smart, funny, heartfelt and treats its characters with respect.

This book has a definite fan club among the librarians here this year and it's one that I think is great for both older teens and adults who like to read YA. I look forward to reading more from Crowley!

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (see the full review here)
One band + one road trip + one incredible soundtrack + one confused roadie/manager = a recipe for one of my favorite books of the year. Colby and his friends, The Disenchantments, who belong to the worst girl group on the West Coast, are embarking on their first and probably only tour. The book is full of the adventures, camaraderie and infighting that only happens when you're cooped up in a VW Van for long hours day after day. 

My favorite movie is Almost Famous and this book has the same sun-drenched music-filled feeling. It will also leave you with the urge to download a long list of artists that they listen to in the bus.

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie (see more here)
This novel is so tightly structured that it kind of feels like it might explode in your hands at any point. It also keeps all of its secrets hidden until the last possible moment, which is hard for any novel to do and even more impressive from a debut author.
Matt's journey to get to know his brother who was recently killed-in-action through the things he left behind was a stunner. I hope this one gets some literary awards so more people will take a look at it.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (see more posts here)
Astrid has problems fitting into a box, she isn't ready for her parents or even her good friends to make snap judgements about who she is based on a label. I thought her struggle with this was very real and will be recognized by teens.
But it this book would also be here just based on King's writing style alone. One of the things I like about her writing is that she finds ways to push the boundaries of what realistic fiction (or contemporary fiction) for teens looks like. Whether it's a Pagoda getting to be a narrator in Please Ignore Vera Dietz or getting a glimpse at the lives of passengers in overhead 747s, there are things here that you just won't find anywhere else.

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (see more posts here)
(This book tied for a spot. So I'm including it in my top ten. So there)
This book is the type of funny that if your friends were this funny at lunch you'd probably end up snorting milk out of your nose. Greg and Earl are hysterically absurd together and all I want in the world is for someone to reenact their home movies so that I can watch them on YouTube.
I also think that this book does the hard thing of realistically portraying the other side of a cancer diagnosis, the people who know the person who gets sick. Greg does not suddenly become a character from a Lurlene McDaniel novel when he finds out about his friend Rachel's diagnosis. Instead, he is awkward and weird and selfish at times- the fact that you want to shake Greg made him seem all the more real to me. 

Extra Helpings of Love

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
From my review, " Each character has a back story that the reader is trying to unravel and pretty soon they're just as tangled up in drama as Leah. Leah is TOUGH and not at all your average book-smart heroine. She is a girl who has had to take care of herself and is not about to let anyone wreck her hard work. If I met her at a party, I might be a little scared of her because she's got such a hard shell to protect herself. But this is a girl worth getting to know" (see more).

Timepiece by Myra McEntire
From my review, "Timepiece is such a fun follow up to Hourglass. The change of point of view is the perfect choice, especially because after finishing the first book you really want to know more about Kaleb, who is super charismatic and the type of guy who only shows the outside world what he wants to" (see more).
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith 
From my review, "This is a great contemporary romance with likable characters, it's one that I found myself marking pages to return to later. Also, no cliff hangers here, this one wraps up with a very satisfying ending." (see more)  
Also: this is a shout-out to the Gunston Middle School girls who agree with me on this pick, they have good taste.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
From my review, "This is Huntley Fitzpatrick's first book and it is so rich and emotionally charged that it reminds me of Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere. It is longer, but because of that you really get to dig into the characters, no one here is two dimensional, even the youngest Garretts are full of personality." (see more)


sprite said...

I think My Life Next Door deserves the award for family you most want to join.

nico said...

I do too! I loved all the sibling relationships. It would be a lot of fun to be in that big, loud family.