In many ways, this year has been a difficult reading year for me. I was finishing up my Master’s Degree, which required quite a bit of extra reading, and then I moved overseas to start a new, more hectic job, which has taken up more time and energy than before. Despite that, I’ve done my best and come up with my Top 10 Reads of 2012. As always, these aren’t necessarily published during 2012, but I read them during that year, and these are in no particular order, except for the first.
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This is easily the best book I read in 2012. It’s stellar, moving, and simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.
This is not your typical book about teens with cancer. It’s not just dark and twisty shot through with ribbons of depression. The narration is funny and feels real–not something I often expect from a male author writing a female character.
This is a masterful work of epic fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed it for its unique approach to the genre, particularly the magic system and all that it taunts us with. I think it could really be well explored in subsequent books.
I discovered Brandon Sanderson last year, and I’ve come to the conclusion that he is the reigning American Tolkien. Despite George R.R. Martin’s claim to that title, I can’t recommend any of his books to anyone, but Sanderson is immensely and widely readable. Pick this up, read all of his books and appreciate his mastery.
3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The entire book drew me in and I couldn’t put it down. From the beginning, we see the effect that the events at the end of Divergent has on Tris. Picking up shortly after the ending of Divergent, Veronica Roth’s Insurgent is an emotional roller coaster, filled with intrigue, betrayal, PTSD, and questioning love and trust. I loved it.
Once again, I’m in love with Holly Black’s writing. Black Heart follows well on the heels of the first two books in the series, picking up with Cassel Sharpe’s tumultuous life following the events of Red Glove. The moment I finished it, the moment I wanted to pick up White Cat and begin reading the series again.
I’m surprised at myself for not reviewing it in a post, but I’ll do a small version here. This is clearly inspired (like many pieces of high fantasy) by Tolkien, but after the first book it moves into its own territory nicely. This sets up for a major quest with nearly a dozen storylines, a fated hero destined to go mad and possibly save the world–or destroy it in his throes of insanity. It’s a compelling read and well-written.
6. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
This is a stellar sequel to The Name of the Wind. Like Brandon Sanderson, Rothfuss rivals George R.R. Martin as the American Tolkien. His prose, which is lyrical and witty, is some of the best I’ve read, and his utterly enthralling tale of Kvothe kept me reading persistently. I’m eagerly awaiting his next installment in The Kingkiller Chronicles.
This is a highly imaginative, immensely enjoyable retelling of the traditional tale of Cinderella. One of the best parts of this was trying to predict what was going to happen. We all know the story, so how is it going to play out in this richly imagined and attentively detailed world? I loved it completely. The characters were well-drawn and filled with interesting quirks, and the conflict felt real. Cinder is a strong character who—as we all do—must find her place in a world that is not always hospitable to us.
8. The Diviners by Libba Bray
This first installment in a new historical fantasy series starts off with a bang. It’s dark and spectacular, filled with historical details of the Roaring 20s that bring the story and setting to life. This is a pretty self-contained first story in a series, so I’m curious to see where Bray takes it. Her writing is always excellent, and she’s going back to her historical fantasy roots, which she really cut her teeth on with her Gemma Doyle series.
9. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler‘s Why We Broke Up is—just in case you weren’t sure—about the end of a relationship. However, it exhibits so much more than that. It simultaneously captures the butterfly-in-the-stomach-filled outset of a blossoming romance, while constantly, alluding to the inevitable impeding end. It is filled to the brim with emotion, with poignant, bittersweet reflection, and with heart—whether whole or broken.
10. The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow is such a fantastic, intelligent book. It’s fast-paced, bookish, dark, and dangerous at times. Nearly all of the reviews I’ve read have said that this is YA’s answer to Dan Brown, and they’re right. Things are not as they seem, enemies lurk behind every shadow, and a world-changing artifact lies hidden somewhere in Prague. People will kill for it. People have killed for it–and they won’t stop until their goal is complete.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Blood Red Road by Moira Young