Sunday, December 30, 2012

Favorite books of 2012

This year I read quite a few less books than last year, but I also delved into the world of manga. I read 44 novels in total, and 41 volumes of manga. Mangas are so much faster to read though, those would probably equal 10 or 15 novels. Anyway, back to the novels. I read a lot less fantasy than last year, or at least I read a lot of really good contemporary. Of these top 14, 8-ish (some are debatable) are non-fantasy/sci-fi, and it's definitely the first year those have been outnumbered!

This is going to be very haphazard. I gave up on giving most of them plot descriptions, sorry about that. And these are not in order at all (except for the last five, those are probably definitely my favorite five), I just found random categories for all of them so I wouldn't have to decide on an order!

Favorite classic: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I didn't think I would like this book, but I did. The tension was great, every chapter had me going 'Oh, crap,' at the end, the writing was gorgeous, and I loved the characters. The end was perfection. 

Favorite adult (non-classic) novel: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. True, it was the only non-classic adult novel I read this year, but I wanted to include it somehow. I actually just finished it today, and I really liked it. I've seen the movie before so I knew how it was going to end, but that didn't take away from it at all. I loved the haphazard way the plot progressed, it really drew me in. I also loved the frequently alternating voices, the present tense, and most everything about it.

Favorite book written in letters: Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. I loved this book so much. It's about a  boy who writes to a famous baseball player and their friendship, and it's not nearly as cheesy as that made it sound. It's set pre-WWII, and the details about that time were really natural. The thing I loved most about this book was the characters, they were all so real and believable and unique, which is especially impressive considering it's all in letters. This is one I'll definitely be re-reading soon.

Favorite book about zombies: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. This is definitely my favorite zombie book of all time, not just that I read this year. It's so unique: it's a book told from the point of view of a zombie, and it's a love story. That's all I'm going to say about the plot, but I'll also say that the writing is really good and the story made me think, and I am SO excited for the movie.

Favorite fairytale retelling: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. First of all, this novel is the author's debut, and she wrote the first draft during nanowrimo, which makes me happy. The book itself is a retelling of A Sleeping Beauty, but it's sci-fi, and Rose wakes up from a decades long chemically induced sleep to find that she is the lone heir of a lot of money. Things I loved: the world (I do love some sci-fi), the characters (I didn't want the book to be over, and I can't wait for the sequel that doesn't have a release date yet), and the main character's growth throughout the book. She had a really excellent character arc.

Favorite two books by the same author: Everybody Sees the Ants, and Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. A.S. King is shaping up to be one of my favorite authors, her books get better with each one. I really loved these two books. They were both quirky, strange, had awesome characters, and compelling plots.

Favorite book that introduced by to an author I hadn't read before: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Obviously I'd heard of John Green (my sisters have loved him for years), but I hadn't actually read anything by him until I bought this book for myself as a birthday present. I loved it. I've read two of his other books since then, and I'm planning to finish his books next year.

Favorite book set in a desert: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. This book surprised me a lot-- I've read most of Sarah Beth Durst's other books, but this one blew them all away. The world was very detailed and drew me into it, the scope of the plot was large, the writing was good, and of course I loved the characters. 

Favorite ensemble cast: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This book, more than any of the others in this list, was about all of the characters I thought. Blue and Gansey were the most prominent, but Adam, Ronan, and Noah were just as important in their own ways. And I loved Blue's mother and her friends. Anyway, this book is the weirdest of Maggie Stiefvater's so far, and I loved that. I loved the characters, the weird plot, the fact that nothing got resolved, the fact that it ended on an incredibly puzzling sentence, and the fact that I have three more books with these characters to look forward to.

Favorite sequel: Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. I squeed about the first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns in my top ten list last year, and this one was just as good. Elisa has new challenges to face-- she's now a queen, her old enemy the Invierne are not really gone, and she's not certain she can trust her own counselors. Rae Carson is easily becoming one of my favorite authors-- her writing is SO good, I love Elisa and all the characters, Hector and Elisa's budding romance was one of my favorites of the year, and the action never stopped.

Favorite murder mystery: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. I LOVED Jazz's voice in this one. And it's too good not to give a plot description: 'Jazz has a best friend, a girl friend, he's great in school-- he would be just your average teenage boy if not for the fact that his father is a world famous serial killer, and everyone thinks that Jazz is going to follow in his footsteps.' So obviously it's dark, Jazz struggles with an incredibly heavy past, the expectations of everyone around him, his own fears and worries, and he has to figure out who this copycat serial killer who shows up in his town is also. Because of the darkness and depth though, it made Jazz one of the most likeable and layered protagonists I read this year. I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Favorite book about cancer: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. I also could have categorized this one as funniest book of the year, and it really was, not because of the subject but because of Greg's voice. He's hysterical. Greg is forced to spend time with an old friend who has just gotten Leukemia, but he's quick to tell you that this will not be one of those sappy "And I learned the meaning of life as she died" stories. The author made this story as real as he possibly could while making me laugh at Greg and Earl's teenage boy crudeness, and it felt like I was peeking into someone's life to watch. I'm not doing a good job at explaining it, so just go read it, as long as you don't mind tons of swears.

Favorite book that's hardest to categorize: Where Things Come Back by Jon Corey Whaley. This book is about a tiny town in Arkansas where a teenage boy's brother is abducted, an it's the hardest one to explain. It's about Cullen dealing with his brother's disappearance, it's about a town that is suddenly famous when the Lazarus woodpecker (Ivory billed woodpecker, actually, with a different name) is sighted, and it's a bunch of stories woven together that don't make sense until the end. It's a book that could have made me throw it across the room if it hadn't ended the way it did, it has writing I fell in love with, and even to me it's inexplicable why it affected me as much as it did. But I did, and I loved it, and you should read it along with all the other books on this list.


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