This has been a hard list to compile because I really enjoyed most of what
I read in 2012 but here are the ones that really stick in my mind. I hope
you’ll find something here you’d like to try—and let me know your favorites.
#1. (tie) The Rook by Daniel O’Malley from Little, Brown and Company, January 2012
Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization and this person wants her dead.
As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy. Suspenseful and hilarious, THE ROOK is an outrageously inventive debut for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.
#1. (tie) Skylark by Meagan Spooner from Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group, August 2012
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.
Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known . . . or face a fate more unimaginable than death.
#2. Midnight City: A Conquered Earth Novel by J. Barton Mitchell from St. Martin’s Griffin, October 2012
Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone—-a powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to a state of complete subservience. But the Tone has one critical flaw. It only affects the population once they reach their early twenties, which means that there is one group left to resist: Children.
Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, and his current target is Mira Toombs, an infamous treasure seeker with a price on her head. It’s not long before Holt bags his prey, but their instant connection isn’t something he bargained for. Neither is the Assembly ship that crash-lands near them shortly after. Venturing inside, Holt finds a young girl who remembers nothing except her name: Zoey.
As the three make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, they encounter young freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and the amazing powers that Zoey is beginning to exhibit. Powers that suggest she, as impossible as it seems, may just be the key to stopping the Assembly once and for all.
#3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein from Hyperion, May 2012
Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
#4. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi from HarperCollins Publishers, January 2012
Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse.
Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
#5. Love, Honour, and O’Brien by Jennifer Rowe from Poisoned Pen Press, January 2012
She stared into the speckled mirror, wondering how she had come to this. How could she, Holly Love, apple of her parents’ eye, competent manipulator of invoices in Gorgon Office Supplies, have ended up alone and starving in a dead man’s flat?
How indeed? Most reluctant heroines would throw in the towel at this point. But Holly Love is made of sterner stuff. She’s sworn to track down the cheating swine who ripped her life apart, and make him pay. But as she tries to keep her head in the face of a bizarre mystery, a gloomy old house, a hearse-driving Elvis impersonator and a gang of vengeful thugs – not to mention a garrulous and possibly possessed parrot – Holly is forced to come to terms with a great truth. However bad things seem, they can always get worse.
#6. Killing Silence: The Loser Mysteries: Book One by Peg Herring from LL-Publications, November 2012
Loser, who sleeps on the streets of Richmond, Virginia, washes up in gas station bathrooms, eats when an opportunity comes along, and spends her waking hours in front of the local drug store, watching the world pass by and speaking less than thirty words per day.
When a child is murdered and Loser finds herself in the company of the prime suspect, can she pull herself out of her own pain to help catch a killer? Her investigation is hampered by her inability to hold a normal conversation and her inner demons.
Why should anyone believe her anyway? She is Loser. A nobody. A freak who can barely speak.
Every street person has a story, and Loser is no different. Her past haunts her present.
Besides, Loser has good reason to avoid the police…and it goes way beyond loitering.
#7. What’s Left of Me: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang from HarperCollins, September 2012
I should not exist. But I do.
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t. . . .
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable—hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
#8. Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman from Luna, November 2011
When magic goes wrong, who are you going to call?
The name’s Torres, Bonnie Torres, and I’m a paranormal scene investigator—rooting out the truth about crimes of magic. It’s dangerous and boring and scary and fascinating. Though not everyone in the Cosa Nostradamus is happy we’re around, which can make things tricky.
Working two cases—looking into a murder for the NYPD, and a rich man’s break-in—should be well within our abilities. But when things start getting weird in the Electric Apple, Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations is stretched to the limits, trying to keep one step ahead and out of trouble. Add in rumors of a powerful creature gunning for us and it’s not just our rep on the line this time—if we don’t solve this case, everyone will suffer.
Fortunately, around here, when the going gets weird, the weird hire us.
#9. Partials by Dan Wells from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins Publishers), February 2012
The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.
Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what’s left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.
#10. The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose from Atria Books, March 2012
A Secret Worth Dying For …
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by visions of the past, her earliest memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up with as the heir to a storied French perfume company. These worsened after her mother’s suicide until she finally found a doctor who helped her, teaching her to explore the mythological symbolism in her visions and thus lessen their painful impact. This ability led Jac to a wildly successful career as a mythologist, television personality and author.
When her brother, Robbie—who’s taken over the House of L’Etoile from their father—contacts Jac about a remarkable discovery in the family archives, she’s skeptical. But when Robbie goes missing before he can share the secret—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.
Traveling back to Paris to investigate Robbie’s disappearance, Jac discovers that the secret is a mysterious scent developed in Cleopatra’s time. Could the rumors swirling be true? Can this ancient perfume hold the power to unlock the ability to remember past lives and conclusively prove reincarnation? If this possession has the power to change the world, then it’s not only worth living for . . . it’s worth killing for, too.
#11. A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn from Atria Books, September 2012
Chet, everyone’s favorite canine narrator, and his human partner Bernie Little are back with another case to solve. In A Fistful of Collars, our two sleuths are conducting a secret investigation of the famous—and notoriously badly behaved—Western movie star Thad Perry, and his motley entourage of yes-men, handlers, and hangers-on. The money is good but something smells fishy, and what might have been a simple matter of babysitting soon gets more complicated—especially when it turns out Thad has a mysterious connection to the Valley nobody wants to talk about. What secret did Thad leave behind when he went to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune? The only people who might know the answer have a bad habit of turning up dead before they can talk. Worst of all, Thad is a self-proclaimed cat person, and his feline friend Brando has taken an instant dislike to Chet.
#12. Origin by J.T. Brannan from Headline Publishing Group, October 2012
For millennia it has lain there undiscovered. Now the time has come…Research scientist Evelyn Edwards always knew the Antarctic held deep secrets but the discovery of a 40,000 year old body buried under the ice caps surpasses even her wildest expectations. But just as her team begins extracting the body the dream turns into a horrific nightmare as they are targeted for death by someone who wants to keep this secret buried. Evelyn barely escapes with her life…On the run, alone and desperate, she turns to her ex-husband Matt Adams, a former member of an elite government unit, for help. Soon, they find themselves caught up in a frantic race against time, which takes them from Area 51 to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, as they try to uncover the biggest conspiracy of all time before it’s too late for everyone…If mankind thought it knew its origins, the time has come to think again because its every belief is about to be challenged…
#13. The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini from Balzer + Bray, September 2012
Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin. But that isn’t happening—not if his parents have anything to do with it. Concerned their son lacks social skills, they ship him off to summer camp to become a man. They want him to be outdoors playing with kids his own age and meeting girls—rather than indoors alone, with only his gaming alter ego for company. Perry knows he’s in for the worst summer of his life.
Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. There he meets Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of C&C, and other mythical creatures from the game, including the alluring Ada Ember, whom Perry finds more beautiful than any human girl he’s ever met. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero. But to save the princess, Perry will have to learn how to make real connections in the human world as well.
#14. Hallowed: Unearthly Trilogy #2 by Cynthia Hand from HarperTeen, January 2012
For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
#15. Criminal by Karin Slaughter from Delacorte Press, July 2012
Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before, when his father was imprisoned for murder, this was Will’s home. It appears that the case that launched Amanda’s career forty years ago has suddenly come back to life—and it involves the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Now these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.
#16. The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda from St. Martin’s Griffin, May 2012
Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?
#17. Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz from Simon & Schuster, March 2012
For the first time in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. Mom has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities—with no apparent motive. Dad has a secret. Izzy’s brother and sister are at war—for no apparent reason. And her niece keeps saying “banana” even though she hates bananas.
That’s not to say that Izzy isn’t without her own troubles. Her boyfriend, Henry Stone, keeps wanting “to talk,” a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry’s mother.
Things aren’t any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, Rae is hired to follow a girl, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. And as the questions pile up, Izzy won’t stop hunting for the answers—even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.
With his big blue eyes and soulful expression, George was the irresistible runt of the litter. But Dave and Christie Nasser’s “baby” ended up being almost five feet tall, seven feet long, and 245 pounds. Eager to play, and boisterous to the point of causing chaos, this big Great Dane was scared of water, scared of dogs a fraction of his size and, most of all, scared of being alone.
#19. Speechless by Hannah Harrington from Harlequin Teen, August 2012
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret
Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.
Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.