YABC’s top three of 2012:
(1) Between Shades of Gray: 4.4 STAR rating!
(2) Three Times Lucky: 4.36 STAR rating!
(3) With or Without You: 4.11 STAR rating!
Our personal favorites of 2012:
Angelfall by Susan Ee: post-apocalyptic, fallen angels, cannibals, strong female heroine… it’s the next Hunger Games! –Jane
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (translated by Yuji Oniki): This book is pretty old by now, but it’s still a fantastic read, especially if you’re a Hunger Games fan. There are a lot of similarities– kids thrown into a situation they can’t escape in which they have to kill each other off violently– but the complexity that Takami gave some of these characters is the kind I haven’t seen in a good while. Every character was interesting, so much so that I sometimes found myself cheering for the villains. –Roxana
* Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: I’m surprised this one has yet to be mentioned. Possibly more haunting than any ghost story is knowledge of what atrocities humanity has been capable of. I’d never before known of the genocide against the Baltic people, this book was a good eye opener. –Katie
Black Heart by Holly Black – I thought that Black Heart was one of the best final books in a trilogy. If you haven’t read the Curse Worker series, you can start with White Cat and read straight through. –Alyson
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron – I’ve read a lot of Jane Eyre spinoffs that fell short of the mark, but this one hits the spot while delivering a satisfying dose of Steampunk. –Alethea
The Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor: I read both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel in 2012 and promptly ate it all up within hours; it’s easily one of my favorites of all time. The prose is absolutely beautiful and the characters are wonderfully quirky and enchanting. There are layers and layers of emotion, cruelty, hope, and beauty that after turning that last page, I was left quite speechless. –Jane
* The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I cried. I was moved. Few books can do that to me and The Fault In Our Stars is one of those few books. I recommend it for everyone who knows cancer or everyone who doesn’t know cancer. –David
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta — dubbed as a sequel, but is more of a companion to Finnikin of the Rock: High fantasy, persecution, fever camps, politics, and game of thrones, here’s a series that will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore and Megan Turner. –Jane
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander – Steampunk. Clockwork parts. Witches. A troupe of goblins. Magic. A missing brother. Adventure. For a Middle Grade novel this has it all. Characters you connect with and an interesting plot and setting. Beautifully written, and I can see why it won the National Book Award. –Alyson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: It’s rare when a book can give me the heebie jeebies. The ambiguity of whether or not Nell has been possessed or sincerely going mad in Hill House will left me with goosebumps for days. –Katie
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: It was a simple, easy to read book, but the message in it was strong and complex– and honestly, that’s a hard thing to pull off these days. Using a sort of blend between fantasy and realistic fiction, this novel deals with the prospect of death but not in the way I’ve normally seen it done. You don’t really find the real point of it all until the end, in a way that Ness handles quite beautifully. –Roxana
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepherd by Lesléa Newman – This novel in verse is a touching tribute to Matthew Shepard. A powerful book comprised of 68 poems with additional endnotes and resources. –Alyson
Olivia and the Fairy Princess by Ian Falconer: It might be easier for a picture book to delight me as the shortness of the medium provides less opportunity for disappointment but Olivia and the Fairy Princess which as far as I know is the only Olivia book I’ve read was such a charming read with an insightful commentary on society that I did not expect from a picture book. –David
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab – A lot of readers will find Caro an arrogant and unlikeable main character, especially for the way she treats her much-older sister who has left her vocation at a convent and is now living at home, trying to figure out what to do with her life; but the way she matures and grows throughout the book won me back and made me a fan. I loved Jarzab’s writing in All Unquiet Things and am glad to see her do even better with her sophomore novel. –Alethea
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown: If you’re even a slight fan of Jane Eyre, you might enjoy this quick read for it’s gothic tones. I was particularly taken by the dark twists the authors chose for this story, since they were not something I was remotely expecting at the beginning. Also I’m a sucker for anything that takes place in era that includes large dresses. –Roxana
* Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo – This completely captured my imagination: I loved the alternate history/Russian motif, the romance, the danger–and the fact that the author is a proper nerd. –Alethea
Six Frigates by Ian Toll: a history book about the founding of the United States Navy. When I say it’s well written I found it to be quite engaging so I wanted to read this large book. –David
* With or Without You by Brian Farrey: Fairly certain this is the best book I’ve ever selected for YABC to read. I would suggest it’s a realistic coming of age story for a young gay boy as he graduates high school, encounters a radical queer liberation movement and tries to figure out what it is to create art. –David