2012 in books, part 2: fiction again

{This list got so insanely long that I split it into two parts. It’s a good thing that I loved so many books this year, right?}

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: And then there’s TFIOS. Huge props to John Green for taking on such a difficult subject and for doing something that’s different from his other books . However, I do have some qualms with TFIOS: first, that it’s so literary and meta-fictional that I never fully lost myself in the story; second, that as much as TFIOS wants to avoid becoming a cancer book, it skates perilously close. And yet, it makes my list, simply because it’s so gutsy, and because Hazel and Augustus are the kind of characters you can’t forget about.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner: I read this book and wanted to smack myself for not having read it before. What was I THINKING? How did I manage to live without Richard and Alec and Riverside? I cannot tell you. But I loved the gritty details of the world and the contrast between the court and the shadier side of the city. I have read The Privilege of the Sword and actually prefer Swordspoint, though I did love Katherine.

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman: I was surprised by just how much I liked this book. I expected a light, fun thriller that I would enjoy and then put down and not think much about. Instead I went around in one of those good book hangovers. There’s a lot of heft to the story–Wasserman brings up some big questions and doesn’t answer them in a neat and easy way. Moreover, I really liked Nora and found her more sympathetic and smarter than many similar narrators.

His Own Good Sword by Amanda McCrina: I wasn’t sure what I would think of this one, but I really liked it. It has an ancient Roman feel, but the best way I can describe it is by saying that it’s like Rosemary Sutcliff, with different names. There’s a strong thread of personal versus familial honor and the cost of mercy. I really enjoyed this debut and am looking forward to seeing what Amanda writes next!

House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier: I love Rachel Neumeier’s books (though I haven’t read the Griffin Mage trilogy), so I was expecting to enjoy her newest, House of Shadows. I did, very much, and I want to re-read it soon. Partly because I think there are some subtle things going on in the images and setting that I missed in the first plot-driven read, but also because it was so lovely. Also, I think the cover is gorgeous.

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols: This came highly recommended from a couple of blog friends and so, despite the fact that I don’t always love contemporary YA, I decided to try it. I loved Leah, who was both prickly and sensitive. And I really loved the different relationships within the book, both romantic and not. There’s a tricky line to walk whenever main characters initially hate each other, and I thought Echols made it work. I haven’t seen many reviews for this one, so if there’s one hidden gem in my list, I’d say this is it.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Let me say at the beginning, The Scorpio Races is still my favorite. That’s not the fault of The Raven Boys, it’s just that Thisby and Puck and Sean got in my blood and that’s that. The Raven Boys, though, is fantastic. It’s creepy and unsettling and I loved that Blue embraces her family’s weirdness. I loved the Raven Boys and the way their friendship was so much deeper than the usual bromance. And I have SO MANY QUESTIONS. SO MANY. This is yet another one that has me gasping for the next book.

Blood keeper by Tessa Gratton: I liked but didn’t love Gratton’s first book, Blood Magic. Blood Keeper, though, has so much going for it–the sheer beauty of the language, the characters, the magic. It’s gorgeous and eerie and unforgettable. The fact that Mab makes mistakes because she is too confident, not because she dithers endlessly, was hugely refreshing. And have I mentioned the language?

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