2012 was a big reading year for me and the majority of the books I read were awesome YA novels. So here's a look back at some of my favorites! Note: these are books I read in 2012, not necessarily books published in 2012, though there are some of those, too!
We'll start with the characters:
My favorite female character comes from Sarah Rees Brennans Unspoken. Kami Glass is spunky, clever, and fearless. Her dialogue is a cross between Gilmore Girls and Easy A. I wish I had been like her when I was in high school!
Runner Up: Jennifer Strange from Jasper Fforde's The Last Dragonslayer. She's another fearless female who is a sense of normalicy when surrounded by the absurd.
My favorite male character is Uncle Mort from Gina Damico's Croak series. He's not the main character from the book, but he's the cool guy who show's Lex a world she didn't know existed. He's a brilliant inventor, knows much more than he's telling, and he drives a motorcycle. He's the cool uncle we all kinda wish we had.
I'm going to go a bit outside the box on this one and select Mori and Hunny from the manga Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori. Mori and Hunny are cousins. Mori is the tall, strong, silent type. Hunny is teeny, loves sweets and his teddy bear, and loves his cousin like a little boy loves a big brother. However, both boys are seventeen and ninjas. Hunny is considered one of the most dangerous weapons in the world and Mori is right behind him. The dichotomy is what makes them so fun and utterly lovable.
The steamiest romance I read was found in the pages of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Karou and Akiva are irresistibly drawn to each other, even though Akiva has been sent to destroy Karou's family and is a threat to her life. It's very much a Romeo and Juliet type of love story, but the ending for this couple is less sure. There may be hope for them, but we're unsure of that hope by the end of the first book. Luckily, this story is part of a series!
Runners Up: Lex and Driggs from Croak. They may be Grim Reapers, but these two teens still make make-out time a priority!
The Best Romance of 2012 for me was that of Kami and Jared in Unspoken. While they're not exactly having a romance, they certainly have very strong feelings for one another. It's hard not to when they've grown up in each other's heads. They've been speaking telepathically to each other since they were born; however, they didn't know that the other actually existed until the opening of the story. Now that they've met in real life, they have to separate and define the feelings they have for each other while fighting against an evil that's attacking their town.
Runners Up: Lex and Driggs from Croak. Sure, they make out a lot, but they also have each other's backs, and that's what's really important.
Katniss is kind of impossible to beat as Toughest Heroine. The Hunger Games' tribute fights to survive in a disturbing vision of the future. But she does more than that, her care for other tributes and her disgust for the Capital's policies make her more than a warrior, she becomes a revolutionary.
This award has to go to Gatlin, the small Southern town where Beautiful Creatures takes place. Gatlin takes on a life of it's own as the living residence of Lena and her uncle, the suffocating prison for Ethan, a place where outsiders are unwelcome, and a living embodiment of the South in the Civil War.
Now, to move on to my favorites in genre offings and plots!
Rot & Ruin beats out The Hunger Games by a very narrow divide. Both are rather terrifying but Rot & Ruin also has zombies - and they're not even the worst threat to our heroes. The future is grim indeed, and let's just be glad it's only a brilliant figment of Jonathan Maberry's very vivid imagination!
Ok, so best may not be quite the right word in terms of the future in Cinder, but despite the obvious problems in this post-apocalyptic world, it was still really cool! Come on, Cinderella is a cyborg fighting enemies from the moon!
This award goes to The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman. This story begins in the States and then travels to Europe, where it spends a lot of time in Prague. The book is full of intrigue and danger, and the international journey is the icing on the mystery cake!
This award is easy - it goes to Hourglass (and its sequel, Timeless) by Myra McEntire. The story starts out with a girl who thinks she's crazy because she can see dead people. But she's not seeing ghosts, she's seeing time ripples. Turns out, she has the capacity to travel through time, which is awesome. This series is so full of win, I can barely stand it!
The Last Dragonslayer takes place in an alternate reality UNunited Kingdom. In this world, magic is fading, but that doesn't stop Jennifer Strange, manager of a magical employment agency, from working tirelessly to get her wizards jobs. But there's a sudden surge in magic and there's a prophecy: the Last Dragon will be slayed by the Last Dragonslayer. Magic infuses this story from top to bottom and the book would be nothing without the magic, which is why this book gets the award.
I love books with a sense of humor. A number of the books I read this year had their funny, snarky moments, like Unspoken, Croak, and Hourglass. But the winner of this category is a straight-up comedy piece. The Last Dragonslayer is funny from the first page. From the character names (Full Price, and his brother Half Price), to the odd creatures (Jennifer's "pet" Quarkbeast that makes "quark" noises), to the character interactions, the book was funny all the time.
Runner Up: Ouran High School Host Club. This Rom-Com was beautifully funny. The characters are silly, yet endearing, which was a lovely combination.
Finally, this is an award for the book I loved so much that I wish it had come from my brain. Annndd...I couldn't come up with just one. So the Book I Wish I Wrote award, aka My Favorite Book, goes to Unspoken and The Last Dragonslayer.
Unspoken is a truly lovely book. Honestly, it has some of the best dialogue that I've come across in a long time. It's clever, quick, and fun, and a great introduction to the story. Then it takes a turn for the gothic, and these characters that you grew to love so quickly are put in danger, and you really care. I adore everything about this book, except for the wait until Book #2 is released.
The Last Dragonslayer is just so much fun that it makes me want to hug it to my chest and skip around with it. Maybe even snuggle it like a teddy bear when I sleep. My love for this book is strong, and I'm actually considering importing the sequel in from the UK rather than wait for a US release.
Thank you to the wonderful authors who made this such a great year of reading! I can't wait to see what 2013 reading has to offer!