January 28, 2013

Picking Favorites, 2012

It's list season out there. Cybils faves that didn't quite make the shortlist, top new releases of 2012, and so on and so forth. Even Tanita posted a Cybils post-mortem here and a few more shout-outs (shouts-out?) here, in honor of award season.

You all win...um...this
clip art of the America's Cup!
I've posted a lot of links to those lists (particularly on the Cybils blog) and now, quite frankly, I'm jealous. So I thought, why not post my own list of favorite MG/YA reads of 2012? Not that I am any sort of authority--I'm not even a Cybils judge this year, and I've honestly had very poor presence in the blog realm recently (though I've been toiling behind the scenes, I swear). But, as Tanita put it in her last post, I think those informal shout-outs are often just as valuable as official list-y, award-y things.

So, without any regard for publication date (because my reading pile has no such limitations), here were my favorite books read in 2012:

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Faves:

Dodger, by Terry Pratchett, was a fun alternate-history-fantasy-ish story that, while unconnected with Discworld, still contains plenty of Pratchett's characteristic humor and sympathetically drawn characters. And plenty of Victorian grime and mayhem to boot. Review here

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta. Damn, but I love these books. The first in the series, Finnikin of the Rock, was definitely a favorite, and the sequel was just as amazing. Adventure, drama, dark fairy-tale themes, a lost prince, a princess who may or may not be insane... I bow down. Review here

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Again, a series I absolutely love, and again, amazingness from an author who is able to maintain the same high level of writing, of pure fantasy goodness, throughout each book. She is fantastic with the strong, capable female main characters. Review here

A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones, which I re-read. Just as good as I remembered it from childhood. Review here

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. I'm not going to go on about it, although I COULD. Tanita and I were reduced to squealing fangirls. That is all. Review here, by Tanita

Honorable mention: I read both of Jonathan Maberry's zombie sequels to Rot & Ruin and they were both good fun. Reviewed here.

Graphic Novel Faves:

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke was just TOO CUTE and funny. It was last year's Cybil award winner for MG graphic novels, and it was definitely deserving. Review here

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks is a finalist this year, I believe, for Cybils Teen GNs. Not every story about fitting in at school also has a ghost in it...and not every webcomic makes a good graphic novel, but this one succeeds on both counts. Review here

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. This was another Cybils finalist last year, and it charmed me by being the story of a young artist told partially through her own words and images, some of them quite dazzling and touching. Yay for stories about artistic types! Review here

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson. I couldn't have come up with a better person to rework this book in graphic novel format. Review here

Historical Fiction Faves:

This year I was basically obsessed with Bloody Jack books. Too much rollicking adventure and vivid historical/nautical detail for me to resist, I suppose. Plus I love the premise of a girl who can't help but thwart all of society's expectations for nice young girls, because it's just in her nature. Review here for the first two books.

Middle Grade Faves:

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. If you loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret as much as I did, you'll want to pick this one up. All I can say with both of these is, I wish I'd written them, wish I'd drawn those moving, beautiful pictures. Review here

Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder. On the serious side, it's a book about coping with divorce, and does an amazing job of portraying that sensitively. On the other hand, it's funny, it's fantastical, and it's just all-around charming. Plus I was honored to take part in the blog tour for the book. Review here

Realistic YA Faves:

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King was a big standout for me this year. A heartbreaking and shocking story, with a relatable main character, that pulls no punches about how tragedy shatters your life and how difficult it can be to find closure. Review here

Writer Friend Shout-Outs:

I read some really good books by writer friends this year, too. Besides Grave Mercy and Bigger than a Bread Box, discussed above, I also enjoyed Jaclyn Dolamore's Magic Under Stone, Jennifer Hubbard's Try Not to Breathe, Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, and Sarah Beth Durst's Vessel. Here's me shouting out! Woo hoo!!

So there's my list of the books that really stood out for me over the past year. My thanks to the authors for all the happy hours of reading! Please keep writing. That is all.


LinWash said...

You picked a lot of my favorites, especially the graphic novels--all of which I've read (and in fact learned about because of this blog).

Sarah Stevenson said...

Well, yay! I like to spread the gospel of the graphic novel. :D

tanita✿davis said...

I'm still a little horrified that I haven't read WONDERSTRUCK when I've heard So. Much. About. It.


Sarah Stevenson said...

I just got my copy back from my mom. I can save it for you & lend it you next time we see each other...

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Thank you for the shout-out. :-)