Friday, December 21, 2012

My Favourite YA books of 2012

This list kills me every year. It's like picking which of my kids I like best. Some books have to be left behind. As always I try not to include the books on the Canadian list for the publisher I'm working at - does that make sense? Because if I like one of those books I feel I have to like them all (whether I do or not) and that makes my list not 100% genuine. So it's easier to this year not include any Penguin Young Readers titles published by Penguin Canada in 2012. Sorry folks. You know your books rock. So my list of top 10 YA books read by me (not necessarily published in 2012) in this past year (not in order remember!) are:

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (duh, whose list isn't this on? It's one of the best YA books EVER) - especially awesome for those who like awesome friendships, snappy dialogue and some tears.

2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein - the excitement I felt when I finished this book still resonates with me today. I HAD to talk to someone about it and luckily many of my friends were finishing it/had just finished it/were willing to start it right away! To me this could have been published as an adult book. It stands up there with The Book Thief as an incredible read for adults and teens. I will re-read this one (and I rarely if ever re-read).

3. Gilt by Katherine Longshore - this is the Tudors meets Survivor. In King Henry VIII's court you have to outwit, outsmart, outlast in order to survive. And this isn't the handsome Jonathan RhysMeyers Henry, this is the gross turkey leg eating, bloated Henry and to make matters worse he has a festering leg wound. In the end it's an amazing story of one girl learning that sometimes friendship can come at a great cost.

4. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. I've often compared this to Game of Thrones - don't get too attached to any characters - no one is safe. The world created here is amazing (there's a map!), the characters are memorable and the action intense. I couldn't put it down and can't wait for the next book.

5. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. We read this one recently for book club and I loved it. Some people have said they don't like books about dragons but really the dragons are in human form for much of the book. It was suspenseful ,thought-provoking and lovely. And I kind of want to marry Kiggs.

6. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor - there was so much excitement about this book  when it came out and I hear mostly great things but the cover put me off a bit. So reading it for our bookclub (the best bookclub ever) was a great way for me to finally crack the cover. So good! Karou now stands with other kick-ass female heroines for me like Katsa and Katniss. The book is set in Prague and now I don't even need to go because it was so richly described I feel like I've already been.

7. Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass - this book falls under the delightful category I've coined as "Am I  Losing My Marbles?" about teenage girls not knowing if they're crazy or the world around them is....Two girls who each dream of each others lives when they're asleep - eventually we start to realize one is real, the other is only a dream or a delusion - but which is which. The truth isn't revealed until the end.

8. Across the Universe/A Million Suns/Shades of Earth by Beth Revis - this is a bit of a cheat because I have read the third book and technically it isn't out until January 2013 but whatever this is my list. People say the first chapter of Across the Universe is one of the best/most chilling/awesome opening chapters ever and it's true - read it and you're hooked. Such an exciting series about a girl who agrees to be cryogenically frozen with her parents to wake up 300 years in the future on a distant planet but something goes wrong and she is woken early. SO AMAZING.

9. The Apothecary by Maile Meloy - isn't technically YA - it's more like slightly older middle grade but it is wonderful so I'm including it. Set in London (who doesn't love books set in London?!) during the Cold War an American girl and a British boy get caught up in a spy adventure complete with a book full of awesome apothecary potions some which they must use.

10. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner - I dare anyone who reads this not to love Standish Treadwell - he's an unforgettable narrator with a unique voice. Living in a harsh regime where the Motherland is planning a moon landing Standish, his sly-fox grandfather and some local friends end up challenging their oppressors.