This week’s topic is:
Top Ten Books I Read in 2012
2012 was an amazing year for books. Though I didn’t have the time to read all of the books I wanted, there were so many brilliant books I did read that I absolutely fell in love with, regardless of the genre or setting. In fact, the only pattern I could find among these books is that most of them seem to be contemporary novels, and all of them are young adult fiction (some of which were published earlier than 2012, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to read them before this year).
10. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Jennifer E. Smith)
|Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row. A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
That Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight had me from its brilliant (and amusing, once you read the quote within the novel) and quirky title, or it’s adorably romantic cover. I knew I wanted to read it months before it was published, and reading the actual book was no disappointment at all. I’ll confess that I’m not the biggest believer in love at first sight, but the way this book sets up Hadley and Oliver’s encounters, and what it says about love in general, the way it starts, develops, or changes truly touched me. I expected this book to be romantic fluff, but instead I found something more emotional, and ultimately more meaningful. (And actually, it’s cover was my favorite book cover of the books I read this year.)
9. Uncommon Criminals (Ally Carter)
|Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem is owned by the most secure auction house in the world. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her intrepid crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the world, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.
I know Uncommon Criminals was published in 2011, but with the closing of my favorite bookstore and university graduation, I didn’t have time to read it until a few months ago. I adored Heist Society, but I was hesitant about reading its sequel because I couldn’t imagine how Ally Carter could bring these characters back for a second adventure without repeating much of the first. Of course, all of my fears were unwarranted. Ally Carter kept this book fresh and exciting (and also, remarkably different from the first novel), and it made me fall in love with Kat and Hale once again. I’m confident that the third book, Perfect Scoundrels will be equally (if not more) amazing when it’s published in February 2013.
8. Lola and the Boy Next Door (Stephanie Perkins)
|Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Lola and the Boy Next Door was published late 2011, but I actually didn’t read it until spring 2012, at NYPL hours before a Stephanie Perkins book signing. Anna and the French Kiss is one of those books I reread constantly, so I expected Lola to be as adorable and romantic and charming as its predecessor. While parts of the novel are certainly adorable and romantic, Lola and the Boy Next Door approaches these things differently. Lola is younger, less certain, more confused than Anna ever was, Cricket Bell is awkwardly endearing in comparison to Etienne St. Clair, and their romantic history is a different sort of complicated. Nevertheless, Lola and the Boy Next Door captured my heart and made me melt. (It also contains a beautiful quote about moons and stars and wishes and love that I can never tire of repeating.)
7. Skip Beat! (Yoshiki Nakamura)
|Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he’s casting her out now that he’s famous enough! Kyoko won’t suffer in silence — she’s going to get her sweet revenge by beating Sho in show biz!
Kyoko’s broken heart and creepy rage keeps her from getting into her talent agency of choice. The eccentric president of the agency decides to give her a second chance, but it requires her to wear a bright pink uniform, put up with spoiled stars, and try to live up to the name of her new position — The Love Me Section! Can Kyoko stand the indignity long enough to find her vengeance?
I fought with myself to put this on the list, just because it would end up being the only manga here. However, given the fact that before 2012, I actually hadn’t read any manga since a few chapters of Gakuen Alice two years ago, I had to throw it in. My problem with manga is that few recent ones are actually finished, and while I enjoy watching an anime week by week, as I do most of my English television shows, ongoing manga chapters are a pain to deal with because not only are they sporadically written and released, but a single, short chapter is published (at best) monthly, and… the waiting and the wondering drive me insane. I also can’t stay on top of them, and often, like in the case of Gakuen Alice, I forget what happened and where the story left off by the time new chapters have arrived. But after flirting with the (forever unfinished) anime earlier this year and finding myself falling in love with the characters beyond control, I had no choice but to read the manga. If you can deal with awaiting an unfinished story as it, chapter by chapter, unveils (very slowly), I truly recommend Skip Beat! The protagonist is one of the strongest manga characters I’ve ever met, I’m already hopelessly in love with Tsuruga Ren, and it’s just amazing watching these two people, both with complicated backgrounds, fall in love without even realizing it, too focused (as they should be) on becoming the best version of themselves and making their dreams come true. So despite the fact that, once I catch up to the current chapter (Act 195), I will spend my months anxiously waiting for a new (if any) Skip Beat! installment, I had to read (and adore) it.
(Please don’t take another two hundred chapters to finish this, Nakamura-san. I won’t survive that long. Even though I’ll try. For Kyoko and Ren.)
6. Out of Sight, Out of Time (Ally Carter)
|The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan — an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers that months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.
Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.
This is book is my favorite in all of the Gallagher Girls books, and it’s definitely one of my favorite series sequels published this year. Cammie’s struggle to resolve the mysteries surrounding the Circle and her father’s disappearance, as well as the more pressing mystery of what happened to her that summer, completely captivated me. I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly, anxiously flipping through the pages to see where Cammie’s quest would take her next, and what they would discover there. It was a whirlwind of adventure, action, and emotion, and I cannot tell you how eagerly I am awaiting the final book in this brilliant series.
5. Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver)
|I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
There are very few dystopian novels I actually enjoy, but Delirium is probably one of my favorites in this genre, and Pandemonium was a brilliant follow-up. The subtle details — the meticulous way people survived in the Wilds, the different aspects of the Resistance movement, the political propaganda — made this book one of my favorites to read and review this year. I can’t wait to see how Lauren Oliver ends this trilogy with Requiem later in 2013.
4. Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
|Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction.
Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Cinder was the book I went around telling everyone I know to read this year. Actually, I’m pretty sure I sent it to at least five friends, and I made my sister read it (and she’s now almost as in love with Prince Kai as I am). Fairy tale retellings already own my soul, but what made this novel especially brilliant is the fact it not only involved elements of a familiar tale, but also developed its own overarching story that completely entranced me. The characters and the science fiction elements were also incredible. I’d name it my favorite 2012 debut, and the series I am now intensely anticipating each year.
3. The Book of Blood and Shadow (Robin Wasserman)
|It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark. But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also — according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone — a murderer.
Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.
I love murder mysteries, I love super-suspenseful novels of any kind, and I love historical fiction. So naturally, I truly enjoyed The Book of Blood and Shadow. This was the only novel I read in a single sitting this year, and definitely the most intense. I loved its use of Latin, the fact that the book largely took place in Prague, and I needed to figure out who was responsible for the murders before Nora. Sadly, my favorite character (Chris) died rather early on, but I still really enjoyed the story. This was certainly one of the best standalone novels I read in 2012.
2. Second Chance Summer (Morgan Matson)
|Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit — everyone is a little too busy and over-scheduled — but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.
Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend… and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance — with family, with friends, and with love.
I cried buckets when I read Second Chance Summer. I was expected it, because I heard this book was a tearjerker, however, it surprised me how much I couldn’t stop the teary eyes throughout the entire novel. Taylor’s story is about family, life, friendship, and memories. It’s one of the books that made me feel the most this year, and one of my favorite contemporary novels of all time.
1. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
|Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs… for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
The Fault in Our Stars is a masterpiece of a novel, so absolutely beautiful that I couldn’t even put my thoughts into coherent words when I finished reading it. The hilarious, witty dialogue, the insane author, the way Augustus and Hazel talked about books, Amsterdam, and Augustus and Hazel themselves all made this novel for me. Despite the fact that I cried while reading most of it, I appreciated everything Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace had to teach me about hardships, grief, our infinities and our stars.
My Life Next Door (Huntley Fitzpatrick)
Shatter Me (Tahereh Mafi)
Bittersweet (Sarah Ockler)
Past Perfect (Leila Sales)
About That Night (Julie James)
A Lot Like Love (Julie James)
Some Books I wish I had read this year (but never got a chance to do so)
(even though some of them are currently sitting on my bookshelf*)
This is Not a Test* (Courtney Summers)
Every Day (David Levithan)
The Raven Boy (Maggie Stiefvater)
Shadow and Bone* (Leigh Bardugo)
Son (Lois Lowry)
For Darkness Shows the Stars (Diana Peterfreund)
The Disenchantments* (Nina LaCour)
Masque of the Red Death (Bethany Griffin)
Grave Mercy (R.L. LaFevers)
The Catastrophic History of You and Me* (Jess Rothenberg)
The Name of the Star (Maureen Johnson)
Of Poseidon* (Anna Banks)
Seraphina (Rachel Hartman)
Born Wicked* (Jessica Spotswood)
The Diviners (Libba Bray)
What were some of your favorite books this year?