Katie’s Annual Round-Up: The Best of 2012

I can’t believe it’s that time again!

The ball is about to drop in Times Square, we’ve bought the champagne (or sparkling cider for the non-drinkers among us) and confetti poppers, and everyone and their sister is offering up “Year in Review” or “Best of 2012” lists. Of course, I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon.

So what were my faves from 2012? Well, in the last 363 days, I’ve read 41 books (thank you for keeping track, Goodreads). 5 of them were re-reads that were released in previous years, and 7 of them were middle grade books (mostly graphic novels) that I read for my book group at work. Not that I don’t think middle grade books have their merit and should be recognized, but since my heart lies with YA, I’m going to limit my list of faves to YA books that were published in the last  year.

Read ’em and weep, folks!

Katie’s Top Books of 2012

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
200px-The_Fault_in_Our_StarsHazel Grace Lancaster is suffering from Stage IV thyroid cancer which has spread to her lungs. When her mother forces her to go to a cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters, another young cancer sufferer/ survivor who helps Hazel understand that even though they’re dying, they still have a lot of life left to live. The Fault in Our Stars is a heart wrenching masterpiece by John Green, who has an uncanny knack for putting unexplainable feelings into words that every reader can understand and relate to.

2. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
172 Hours on the Moon
In the year 2018, an advertisement is being internationally broadcast, calling out to teenagers to enter a worldwide lottery to be one of three teens to go to the moon along with five experienced astronauts. This excursion was conceived by NASA to drum up publicity, funding, and interest in space travel and lunar research. At least that’s what they’re telling people. What NASA isn’t telling people is that there’s something sinister out there sabotaging the lunar missions. Creepy, suspenseful, and intense, this is definitely one of my favorite books of all time and will haunt you well after you’ve read the last page.

3. The Diviners by Libba Bray
The DivinersIt’s 1926, and Evie O’Neill has been sent to New York City to live with her Uncle Will as punishment for some poor behavior in her sleepy Ohio hometown. For Evie, this “punishment” is the most wonderful thing to ever happen. At least until the dead bodies start appearing. The police enlist the help of Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, to assist in the investigation. Evie finds she can also help using a special -and very secret- gift: she can “read” objects just by holding them and conjure up images of the owner’s life. Evie, Uncle Will, Jericho (her uncle’s assistant), and Sam (a con artist working at the museum) just might be able to figure this thing out… as long as the murderer, Naughty John, doesn’t get to them first. A little lengthy, but well worth it as this book sucks you in and doesn’t let go.

4. Purity by Jackson Pearce
purityjpShelby Crewe’s mother made her promise three things on her death bed. First, that she loves and listens to her father. Second, that she loves as much as she can. Third, that she lives a life without restraint. Shelby has done everything she can to fulfill Promises #1 and #3.  But when her father asks her to attend a church-organized Princess Ball that asks the daughters to promise their purity to their fathers, Shelby’s looking for a loop-hole.  How can she promise to stay a virgin until marriage if she also promised to live a life without restraint?  Thus starts Shelby’s journey of finding a boy to have sex with her. No attachment. No strings. She just wants to lose her virginity. Despite Shelby’s insistence on having “no strings attached” sex through most of the book, the story has a strong, underlying moral. It carries major themes of loyalty, values, and friendship, while still managing to be completely hilarious.

5. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
Page by PaigePaige Turner  just moved to Brooklyn and has never felt so alone. She recalls some words of wisdom from her grandmother, buys a brand new sketchbook, and starts drawing again, something she thought she was never good enough to do. Through gorgeously drawn illustrations, we see Paige’s journey as she struggles to break free of her parent’s expectations and become the person she wants to be. She makes some uber cool friends along the way, finds courage through her art, and discovers a new person who has lived inside her all along.

Honorable Mentions:

Touched by Cyn Balog
Ten by Gretchen McNeil

The Nitty Gritty

Favorite Character – Female
Female characters always have a lot to live up to in YA novels. They have to be good role models. They have to have emotional depth. They have to be tough, strong, and fearless. They have to be feminine and maintain a lovable quality that not only captures the hearts of leading men, but of the reader as well. How can one character express all that in 200+ pages?!

Winner: Leigh Nolan, Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
This may seem like a strange choice. Leigh Nolan isn’t going to start any revolutions, pull off an international heist, or go back in time to right some horrible wrong. Leigh Nolan is just an average girl with everyday problems. She handles things the way any normal girl would… she falls apart, picks herself up, dusts herself off, and finds a way to carry on (even if that doesn’t go as planned either). She takes things as they come, and does it with the greatest wit I have ever heard.

Honorable Mention: Ruby Daly, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Ruby’s character evolves throughout the book, and shows the true strength of her character. She wanted to protect those closest to her, but didn’t know how. She was a little naive and seemed more like a confused, aimless teenager throughout the book, not what you’d expect of a novel’s champion. But her turnaround in the novel’s final pages made me respect her and wanted to see her become the kickass heroine that seems to be lurking inside her.

Favorite Character – Male
Male characters are equally as tricky but for different reasons. If the main character is male, they are expected to be strong minded and strong willed. If the male in the book is a supporting or secondary main character, they are usually devilishly handsome, and have all the attributes that will appeal to a hopeless romantic reader. They also have a tendency to bend to the will of the female main character, whom they expectedly fall hopelessly in love with, usually unbeknownst to the female.

Winner: Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I think it’s a little impossible NOT to love Augustus Waters. As a young man dying of cancer, he has a true appreciation of life. He understands how fleeting life is and that it’s not to be wasted. And, honestly. You can’t not fall in love with a guy (fictional or no) who says to a girl, “it would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”

Honorable Mention: Zachary Goode, Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
We’ve seen Zach grow throughout Gallagher Girl series, but this was by far the best he’s ever been. His sacrifices for Cammie, not to mention his growing trust in her, show how far his character has come since he first met Cam and the gang. He’s become honorable, trustworthy, and a true friend to the Gallagher Girls. And, well… HE’S A TRAINED ASSASSIN. If that doesn’t get you on this list, I don’t know what does.

Favorite Villain
Winner: The beings on the moon,  172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
I can’t say specifically what said beings are, because that would pretty much give away the ending. But I will tell you that these things creeped the holy hell out of me and is the reason why anything having to do with the moon completely freaks me out now.

Honorable Mention: The Chuckies, Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Undead, cannibalistic zombies who are getting smarter. Because just having undead, cannibalistic zombies wasn’t enough to give us nightmares.

That wraps up some of my favorites. Now you tell us what some of your favorites of 2012 are! Sound off in the comments!

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