Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: As you probably know if you have been reading here for a while, I am kind of a Code Name Verity fan. And by kind of, I mean I really really love this book, because it is fantastic. As I write this, I am listening to the audiobook and realizing all over again just how many layers Wein wove into this story. And yet, at the heart of it, it’s very simple: it’s about Maddie and Verity. The sensational team. I’m not going to lie–I want this to win not only the Printz, but every book award ever. This story is in my heart now, and it always will be.
The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett: I’ve tried Pratchett several times before and have bounced off his wit. The Tiffany Aching books are just what I wanted–still funny, still pointed and satirical at times, but also full of heart. Tiffany herself is a fantastic character and I love the way Pratchett made the world. My one and only complaint is that there are no more left for me to devour.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: Here is a book that has been getting a fair amount of attention, and rightly so. Seraphina is fantastic–the YA heir to the middle grade fantasies I loved growing up. The details of the world and the political conflicts are wonderful, but what really makes the book is Seraphina herself. If Code Name Verity is my gold Printz pick, Seraphina is my silver. (Oh, please, Printz committee!)
Midnight Riot and sequels by Ben Aaronovitch: I gulped down all of the Peter Grant books this year, after seeing them mentioned in the comments on Sarah Rees Brennan’s LJ. Equal parts magic and police procedural, these books are also fun and quirky and, above all, full of London. I love them and I can’t wait for more. Bonus! Peter is bi-racial and the books deal with that in a great way, I thought.
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: I loved Brennan’s first series, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I was super excited for the first in the Lynburn Legacy. I wasn’t disappointed. Kami is a wonderful main character, and I alternately want to hug Jared and punch him (for his own good). The supporting cast is strong as well, and the ending! Let’s just say that book 2 can’t arrive too soon.
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley: This is a book I wasn’t sure I would like, partly because it’s in categories I don’t tend to enjoy–urban fiction, adult, paranormal. But in this case, O’Malley’s strong writing and characters, plus LONDON, trumped any reservations I might have had. I thoroughly enjoyed The Rook and it’s currently high on my list of books I need to re-read as soon as possible.
The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell: I just really love this series. I have small patience for a lot of historical fiction, but when it’s done well it can be so, so good. And The Vespertine and The Springsweet are exactly that. In some ways, I liked Zora’s story even better than Amelia’s; I totally believed the setting and time period and characters. I cannot wait for the third book.
The Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells: I read a lot of Martha Wells this year–not quite everything, but almost. The Wheel of the Infinite was the first book I read by her, and it was also my favorite. I mean, I like all of them! But when you have a fantasy which is also a mystery which also reads like good historical fiction which also has great characters and an awesome romance…I mean, it’s like someone wrote a book personally designed for me. How could I resist that?
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews: Okay, so this is inevitably going to be compared to the next book on my list–both came out in 2012, both featuring teenagers with cancer. And both of them are really strong books, in different ways. But in terms of which one I enjoyed reading more? Me & Earl wins, hands down. It’s so funny, for one thing. And I think it’s more successful in its stated avoidance of becoming a ‘cancer book.’
Stick around for part 2 tomorrow, followed by non-fiction, children’s books, and a general wrap-up of the year!