Happy 2013, guys. I’m still playing makeup (in which I do a lot of catchup work after taking two vacation days), but I thought it’d be nice to have all of my Class of 2012 YA Superlatives in one place. So here's the enormous list—all of my picks for the blogfest.
The only thing dystopian about This is Not a Test is the fact that it’s set days after zombies have taken over the world. Not a new concept, but the execution is like a breath of fresh air in a genre that’s quickly becoming overdone. The slow-building narrative follows Sloan, a teen girl who wants to kill herself as she and a group of other teens barricaded in their high school adapt to the new world. This isn’t a story about fighting the system or tough-girl antics. It’s an emotional tale about a girl learning to want to live.
Favorite Science Fiction
There’s so much I loved about this story—the fearsome world Rossi created, the two very different characters from whose points of view the story is told, the romance that’s slow-building and totally believable. The plot’s fast-paced and interesting, but nearly a year after I read this the things that stand out most in my mind are the characters—Perry, in particular, and his love for his nephew.
I tried. I mean, I really tried to pick just one. It seems I went on something of a fantasy kick this year and the best I could do was to whittle my favorites down to two. So I’m picking Shadow and Bone for its amazing world-building and strong characters, including my absolute favorite, The Darkling. (Why yes, I do root for the bad guys.) And I’m also choosing Throne of Glass for a kick-ass heroine and another bad guy I can’t help but love, Prince Dorian.
I’d like to apologize ahead of time for the number of times you’ll see the cover of The Fault In Our Stars in the coming days. I’m going to do my best not to make the 2012 YA Superlative Blogfest = the 2012 John Green Lovefest, but I really can’t make any promises. This was hands-down my favorite book of the year.
The Hangover meets Prom in Ditched, an adorable YA contemporary about a girl who wakes up in a ditch wearing her prom dress and has to put together the pieces of her night with the help of two hilarious women who work at 7-Eleven. Favorite quote:
“I don’t tell Gilda and Donna the part where I considered tying my dress together with the tampon string before realizing the darn thing was too short.”
This isn’t a straight mystery in the Agatha Christie sense of the word, and maybe it really belongs in the paranormal category, but I don’t care. It’s the mystery that had me turning pages at warp speed. That, and the prose that had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions. Case in point:
“Jared glared. Some people, Kami knew, had bedroom eyes. She was saddened to have to admit that Jared had filthy alleyway eyes.”
I read plenty of contemporary romances this year, but I have to say, the award for most smokin’ romance goes to Katy and Daemon in Onyx. Yes, it’s technically a sci-fi novel that reads like paranormal romance, but the love-hate relationship is so well done that I immediately bought this book after finishing the first in the series, Obsidian.
There’s so much I love about this book that I’m going to refer you to my review before this blurb becomes a dissertation on how Maggie Stiefvater is most likely a robot because no human could create three narrators and a host of other characters with such different personalities and voices.
Favorite Family Drama
I went into Graffiti Moon expecting a lighthearted drama about a girl who’s searching for a graffiti artist she idolizes alongside a boy who is secretly the graffiti artist. I was pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous prose and complex plot. In fact, just writing this has made me want to re-read the book all over again.
Favorite Genre Bender
Cinder is a sci-fi fairytale retelling heavy on the romance and with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. It’s one of the most creative takes on Cinderella I’ve read, and the plot deviated enough from the traditional fairytale that I was hurrying through pages to find out what would happen to Cinder, our part-cyborg narrator. The ending set up the next book in the Lunar Chronicles, which I’ll be picking up as soon as it releases in 2013.
Class Clown: Mal from Shadow and Bone
Okay, so his antics are those of a traditional class clown, but c’mon: In the first chapter of the book we see him goofing off right before a perilous trip into the Shadow Fold. (Also, I should mention, snubbing Alina, which The Darkling would never do…)
Most Likely to Become a Rock Star: Sam from Incarnate
It doesn’t matter that Sam is reincarnated constantly. Each time he comes back, he’s a musician extraordinaire. Give him another thousand years and he’ll have the whole rock god thing down pat.
Mostly Likely to Start a Riot: Tris from Insurgent
Because, um, she kind of started one already.
Biggest Flirt: Prince Maxon from The Selection
I mean, 35 girls at one time. How do you spell player?
Fashion King: Will from From What I Remember…
Yes, the obligatory gay friend who’s totally into fashion. But I promise it doesn’t come off as cliché. Also, Will is hilarious and well-versed in Mean Girls quotes.
Girl You’d Most Want For Your BFF: Rose from Torched
I’m pretty sure you all know about my love of practical jokes. This girl is the queen of ’em. Together, we’d cellophane toilets* up the entire East Coast.
Boy You Wish You’d Dated in High School: Perry from Under the Never Sky
I’ll admit, his crazy sexiness did play a role in my choice here. But, really, most YA boys are majorly hot, so the biggest reason I picked Perry is because he has such a giant heart for his nephew. And it’s a known fact that guys + kids = girls turning to mush.
Most Likely to Become President: Paul from Born Wicked
It’s not that he’s set his sights on the oval office (did the oval office even exist back then?), but that the way Paul carries himself is, for lack of a better term, presidential.
Quirkiest Character: The Raven Boys
Listen, I tried to pick the quirkiest of the quirky boys, but I can’t. And maybe Gansey is the most eccentric of the bunch, but Ronan carries a little bird wherever he goes. So there.
Villain You Love to Hate: The Darkling from Shadow and Bone
If by love to hate you mean love to love.
Favorite Parental Figure: Kami’s dad from Unspoken
Because, well, take a look:
“Why are you putting on lip gloss, my daughter?” Dad asked. “Trip to the library? Trip to the nunnery? I hear the nunneries are nice this time of year”
“Is this true, Kami? Are you going out on a date?” Dad asked tragically. “Wearing that? Wouldn’t you fancy a shapeless cardigan instead? You rock a shapeless cardigan, honey.”
Coolest Nerd: Katy from Onyx
Katy’s a book blogger and sucker for all things reading—the best type of nerd, right guys?
Most Envy-Inducing Plot (Or, the plot you wish you’d thought of yourself.)
I love the idea of a military prodigy hunting down the country’s most wanted criminal—and then falling in love with him.
Most Formidable World (Or, the setting you most definitely would NOT want to travel to.)
Inside the wall, women are lesser than men—they can’t even walk around town without a male Protector. Outiside the wall, a monster’s on the loose. Yeah, I could do without a trip there.
Wanderlust-Inducing (Or, the setting you’d happily travel to.)
I’m pretty sure the title says it all. Reading Wanderlove is like backpacking through Central America with an old friend.
Maggie Stiefvater has a way with words that has the tendency to make me crumple my latest rough draft in a tight ball and pitch it directly in the trash. Proof:
“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn't know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”
Best First Line
Guys, I’m doing my best not to make this a The Fault in OurStars lovefest, but I’m not quite sure what can top this opening:
“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”
Most Dynamic Main Character
Can I use Augustus Waters even though he was the love interest? (If not, my second pick is Hazel. So there.) There is so much I love about Augustus: his limp, the unlit cigarette, his grand gesture at the end of the book… If I continue I might end up in tears so I’ll leave it at that.
Most Jaw-Dropping Ending
A better name for this category? Reason you hate sequels that do not come out IMMEDIATELY after the first book.
Best Performance in a Supporting Role
This one’s a tie (and maybe a three-way tie if you won’t let me give the Favorite Main Character title to Augustus Waters). Ronan in The Raven Boys is a mess of contradictions but I love him so very much. I can’t wait to see what his deal is in the next book considering the bomb he dropped on the final page. And Prince Dorian in Throne of Glass is entitled and not the greatest guy, but he’s also super interesting and loving and completely awesome. I might cry unhappy tears if Celaena doesn’t end up with him in the end.
Best Use of Theme
The way This is Not a Test explores human nature—why do we fight to survive when all hope is lost?—is just brilliant.
I made that bad boy plural because I could never choose just one.
There are so many YA couples I love, but cutest? Most adorable? That’s definitely Parker and Will from Stealing Parker.
Most Likely to Succeed (Or, pick a Printz Winner.)
John Green has this one in the bag.
Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime
There was so much I loved about this book—the mystery, the action, the romance—that it flew by in one sitting.
Best Repeat Performance
If this blogfest has taught me anything, it’s that I didn’t read many sequels this year. I think I can count the number I read on one hand. My favorite was A Million Suns, which I think I enjoyed more than Across the Universe. I’m really excited for the last in the trilogy.
Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath
The sexual tension between Katy and Daemon sizzles, and when they do kiss? Watch out.
This is a surprisingly difficult category—this year was packed with standout debuts. But even after almost a year, Under the Never Sky is my favorite.
Best Old-Timer (Your favorite read of the year, published BEFORE 2012.)
I have no idea what took me so long to read The Thief, but it was a stupid reason because this book is awesome. Gen, the main character, is so likable even though he’s a totally lazy criminal. If you haven’t read it, get to it.
Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry
Please. I think The Fault in Our Stars could make a desert cry.
Most Pleasant Surprise
Graffiti Moon sounded like such a fluffy read to me, but when it comes to YA books, never doubt an Aussie. Everything about this was great, especially the prose, which elicited from me both deep sighs and giggles. Here, have some:
“Every time he looked at me I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In art class I’d watch him lean back and listen and I was nothing but zing and tingle. After a while, the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I had nothing in common with a sheddy like him, but a girl doesn’t think straight when she’s that close to electrocution.”
Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle
The first in Cynthia Hand’s series was my pick for this category last year, and there’s no other book that fits this slot better than this follow-up. In fact, this series is what comes to mind when I think of believable love triangles.
Sleeper Hit (Book you found so awesome you wish it had been hyped more.)
I’m not sure why this didn’t make a bigger splash (perhaps it’s because this isn’t a 2012 release in Australia), but it should have. It’s a beautifully written novel.
Pick your own category—Best Self-Pubbed Novel
I’m hesitant to pick this lest you think I’m only giving this spot to Torched because I’m friends with Andrea. But here’s the thing: This book is great and will smash any preconceptions you have about self-publishing. Forget loads of typos and a loose plot. Plus, the story’s fun and the mystery engaging.
*Professional prankster on a closed course. Do not try this at home.