Novel Novice’s Best YA Books of 2012

best of 2012 banner

I read some pretty kick ass books in 2012. A lot of them. So many that sometimes it’s hard to remember what they all were. But I’ve kept notes throughout the year, marking what I consider to be the year’s BEST books — though it was definitely a hard list to narrow down. I have so much love for so many of the books I read each year.

So step aside Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly. Here are the Best YA Books of 2012, according to me (in no particular order):

amelia anne is dead and goneAmelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

This book is so painstakingly beautiful, it hurts. Every word is carefully chosen and each sentence poetically written. Rosenfield has made a stunning debut on the literary scene, and I sincerely hope she has more to offer soon — because I have yet to find another novel that compares to the majesty of this undone coming of age saga.

It’s only a bonus that I happened to be buying this book when my now-fiance popped the question in the middle of the YA section at our local B&N.

Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomThe Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

I don’t read a ton of middle grade fiction, but when I do, I have high expectations — expectations which this book far exceeded. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom may be marketed to the middle grade set — but honestly, this book is perfect for anyone. From adults reading aloud to younger children — to adults reading silently to themselves, and everyone in between. This book will have you in stitches from laughing so hard, and you’ll be delighted by this refreshing, new twist on the classic fairy tale princes.

Team HumanTeam Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

I’m a sucker for vampire stories (pun intended, always) — but Brennan & Larbalestier’s collaboration on Team Human has completely raised the bar when it comes to this blood-sucking genre. This duo has revamped the vampire-human romance — both paying homage to and sending up this beloved paranormal theme. Funny, poignant, touching. They pack a lot of punch into this standalone stunner of a novel.

vesselVessel by Sarah Beth Durst

I loved this book so much that when I finished reading it, I hugged the book (really) and then started re-reading it immediately. I only regret having to force myself to stop re-reading it when I realized how massive my “to be read” pile remained. Nonetheless, Vessel is an absolute masterpiece of storytelling: magic, romance, adventure, destiny & fate. Durst has outdone herself.

divinersThe Diviners by Libba Bray

Jeepers creepers. Completely. Bray’s latest forray into historical fiction is creepy to the max. But she’s also written a lively, colorful, flapper-filled account of 1920s New York City — filled with murder, mystery, mayhem, and magic. I just want to crawl into the world of The Diviners and stay for a while. (But maybe not stay too long, what with all the death at every turn …)

last dragonslayerThe Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

I know I’m not the only Harry Potter fan who’s been a bit homesick for Hogwarts ever since J.K. Rowling wrapped up her beloved series. But Fforde’s first book for younger readers made me forget about that longing for a while. The Last Dragonslayer harkens back to everything I loved about Harry Potter: magic colliding with Muggle, unlikely heroes, an ecclectic and lovably bunch of characters. Everything Fforde has mastered in his adult books (like the much loved Thursday Next books) shines through in The Last Dragonslayer.

rebel heartRebel Heart by Moira Young

I adored Moira Young’s debut novel, Blood Red Road, so much that I called it “better than The Hunger Games.” Not surprisingly, the publishers liked that — and now my blurb is on the cover of both the paperback and the hardcover sequel, Rebel Heart. And with this second book now on my “read it and loved it” pile, I can safely say that I still stand by my original statement. Young took everything I loved about Blood Red Road and far surpassed my expectations with Rebel Heart. It was painful and difficult and aching and wonderful and beautiful all at once. The conflicting emotions I felt as I raced through each page were almost too much to handle, but I couldn’t resist. This book is just spectacular.

black heartBlack Heart by Holly Black

I experienced an intense conflict of emotions upon finishing Black Heart, the third book in Black’s Curse Workers trilogy. You see, I was elated by the book itself. Utter perfection, this series could not have ended more satisfactorily. And yet, when I realized this was the end, I slipped into a bout of literary depression. You know the one: when one of your all-time favorite series is over, and you realize … there are NO more new books coming. That this is it. That’s how I felt after finishing Black Heart. I’ve moved on by clinging to the dim hope that someday, Holly may return to the Curse Workers and write more. For now, I’ll have to anticipate her new novels.

MasqueRedDeath hc c-1Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

This is genre-bending at its best. Historical, romance, mystery, dystopian … I don’t know what to call Masque of the Red Death other than simply stunning. Griffin deftly draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s story of the same name, while crafting her own unique vision of a world undone and a story packed with intrigue. Part one of a two-book series, the conclusion — Dance of the Red Death — is definitely one of my most-anticipated releases of 2013.

InsurgentInsurgent by Veronica Roth

The follow-up to Divergent probably doesn’t need my help — this series is already a best-selling success, with a movie adaptation in the works. But nonetheless, Insurgent was definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. Not only was the action and pacing dynamic and engaging — but the big twist at the end proved that Roth hasn’t just churned out a new YA dystopian series. She has, in fact, crafted one of the most ingenious entries into the realm of science fiction literature.

fault in our starsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I don’t need to tell you why The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best books of 2012, because everyone else has already done so. I’m actually getting kind of sick of all the hype — but the fact of the matter is, this really is one of the best books of the year — and quite possibly, Green’s finest novel to date.

Best book from 2011 that I read in 2012:

Peter NimblePeter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

And I must give one last shout-out to Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes. This book was released in 2011, but I didn’t get around to finishing it until earlier this year. But every second spent within its pages were well worth it. Magical, charming, evoking the spirit of J.K. Rowling and the classic fairy tales. Mixing a bit of grimness with whimsy, Auxier’s novel is pure artistry and a delight for readers both young and old.

For the comments: What were YOUR favorite books of 2012?

One response to “Novel Novice’s Best YA Books of 2012

  1. You clearly didn’t read THE PREMONITION SERIES by Amy Bartol. Read her books, and let me know when (not if) you add her book(s) to your “Best YA Books of 2012″ list. :)

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