2012 Picks of the Year — Young Adult

9780062195180

The Peculiar
By Bachmann, Stefan
Greenwillow Books
9780062195180 $16.99

Teens are half child and half adult, which often makes them awkward and other people uncomfortable. In The Peculiar, Bartholomew has the additional handicap of being half human and half fae. His world is a grimy London existing in an uneasy balance of power between fae and humans. Someone is after Bartholomew and his sister, and it could be either side. Exceptional writing adds to the pleasure of the adventure.

9780399254598

Keeping Safe the Stars
By O’Connor, Sheila
Putnam Publishing Group
9780399254598 $16.99

The three orphaned Star siblings, Pride, Nightingale, and Baby, spent a short, awful period in the County Home before finding their way to the care of their grandfather, Old Finn, their only living relative. Old Finn is fiercely independent, but he becomes so ill that he’s hospitalized. 12-year-old Star takes charge to make sure nobody knows they’re on their own, and she’s not about to accept help.  10-year-old Nightingale isn’t so sure that’s the best way to help Old Finn or themselves, and 8-year-old Baby has a tendency to blow their cover, which would let others meddle.  Gathering bits of respect, bits of understanding, and bits of love, they manage to fashion a family.

9780307931887

Every Day
By Levithan, David
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780307931887 $17.99

A wakes up every day in a new body. Creating a personal code of ethics, A discovers what can (and cannot), should (and should not) be done when you’re living in someone else’s life. One day A wakes up as Justin, meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon, and on that day A’s own life finally begins.

Every Day is a unique inquiry into the relationship between body and soul. Is ‘who we are’ distinct from ‘what we look like’?  Is love really blind or do we fall for the ‘package’ as much as the ‘person’ inside? What makes us human anyway? Perfect for the philosophical teen, who likes contemplating life’s mysteries.

9780375866562

Seraphina
By Hartman, Rachel
Random House Books for Young Readers
9780375866562 $17.99

In Seraphina, Hartman has created an alternative, fantastic medieval world. The Kingdom of Goredd contains the anticipated castle, cathedral, market, and university. The royal family prevails, religion is integral in daily life, and a host of saints are familiar to all. Goredd, however, is bound by a tenuous peace-treaty with the neighboring kingdom of dragons. The knights have been banished — there is no use for them now — and dragons and human live side-by-side. Despite the official treaty, tensions between humans and dragons are high in Goredd, especially after a member of the royal family is killed in a distinctly draconian manner. Seraphina, sympathetic to both sides and also feared by both sides, stands at the center of this story; a story that incorporates high adventure and courtly romance and is well on its way to creating a modern legend.

9780525478812

The Fault in Our Stars
By Green, John
Dutton Books
9780525478812 $17.99

John Green gets it. He writes characters that precisely capture the transitional voice of teenagers poised between childhood and adulthood. In Hazel, he has created a character who has endured more than most adults, but retains the snarky running commentary that is pure adolescence. Hazel has lived most of her life on the edge of death. Although a Cancer Survivor — she mocks the melodramatic weight that people often use when discussing Serious Medical Conditions — Hazel is perpetually aware of her truncated life-span. Reluctant to get too close to anyone, because she repeatedly witnesses the pain of those who have lost a family member or friend, Hazel is unprepared for one Augustus Waters to bounce into her life. Her attempts to protect him prove futile and she ends up discovering why it’s never worth denying someone the pain of loving you.

9780545424929

The Raven Boys
By Stiefvater, Maggie
Scholastic Press
9780545424929 $18.99

Blue lives in a house full of psychics. She doesn’t have the gift herself, but she possesses the ability to augment others’ gifts. Therefore on St. Mark’s Eve, when she sees the spirit of a boy who has not yet died, there can be only two possible explanations: either he’s her true love or she’s the one who kills him. 

Gansey is on a quest. A junior at the all-boys Aglionby prep school, he surrounds himself with the friends and resources he needs to uncover an ancient legend. He’s wealthy and charismatic: a little too pompous for Blue, but she is slowly pulled into Gansey’s obsession. She has no interest in falling in love, certainly not with a Raven Boy from Aglionby Prep, but then why did Blue see Gansey walking the copse road, and what exactly connects her spirit to his? The first in a quartet, The Raven Boys blurs the lines between mysticism and realism. It’s an auspicious start to what is sure to be an excellent series.

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One thought on “2012 Picks of the Year — Young Adult

  1. […] I was reluctant to put down The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The main characters, Hazel and August, captured my heart from the beginning, and I could not wait to see how they developed. John Green’s love for the dramatic shattered my heart in the end, but it was worth the pain I endured to finally discover what became of the characters that I had grown so fond of. (Note: The Fault in our Stars was a staff pick for 2012 and is also reviewed here.) […]

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