Welcome to Smugglivus 2012! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2012, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2013.
Who: Maggie, the lovely 17-year-old who writes awesome critical reviews over at Bibliophilia
Please give it up for Maggie!
The Books that Made 2012 Bearable
The good things that happened in 2012: I finished up high school and my first two years of college simultaneously, and remain alive and well; I went to BEA (where I met the lovely Book Smugglers themselves!); I started applying to four-year universities; and had some wonderful times with family and friends.
The bad things that happened in 2012: Pretty much everything else. Between a terrible barn fire, my extended health problems and hospitalizations, and serious problems with cash flow, it’s been easily the worst year of my (admittedly young) life.
Luckily, though, books have been there every step of the way. Here are the very best stories that brought me through the very worst times—enjoy!
Having already read and loved Ashley Hope Perez’s What Can(t) Wait, I knew that >The Knife and the Butterfly would be something special, but what I didn’t expect was just how much this book would blow me away. The Knife and the Butterfly is the story of Azael, one of the greatest YA anti-heroes I have ever read; a gang member and child of illegal immigrants who has committed acts that are entirely unconscionable. Locked up in juvie and forced to observe a Xanax-addled white girl, he is lost and so are we: Perez keeps us in suspense until the (heartrending) end. It’s beautiful and gritty and entirely underappreciated—and definitely worth a read if you haven’t checked it out.
I never expect much from celebrity projects, but The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories—a collaborative effort spearheaded by Joseph Gordon-Levitt—was startlingly excellent. It’s a collection of short stories that are at the most a few sentences long, and each one packs a punch. Some are cutesy twee punches (as you might expect from Gordon-Levitt), but others are dark, disturbing, and heartbreaking. The illustrations, also, are lovely; it can be finished in a short sitting, so you really have no excuse not to read it.
While I remain a fan of Maggie Stiefvater’s earlier work—Lament, Ballad, and the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy—it’s impossible to deny that her 2011 release The Scorpio Races was in a different class altogether. With The Raven Boys, she has established herself as one of the eminent writers working in YA—it’s the story of Blue, the youngest in long line of psychics, the four strange boys she meets, and a quest for ancient magic. It’s lovely, gorgeously written, eerie, and altogether original, and I’m on tenterhooks for the sequels (it’s the first a planned series of four).
And finally, The Broken Lands by Kate Milford—featuring a dorky, charming card-sharp hero, a wonderfully nuanced (and kick-butt) fireworks master heroine, lots of magic, mystery, and mythology, and a fantastic historical fantasy feel—was easily one of my favorite reads of 2012. It’s a prequel to Milford’s earlier release, The Boneshaker, but it stands perfectly well on its own (I must confess, I have yet to read The Boneshaker myself).
Honorable mentions include fantasy epic Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore; Diverse Energies, a sci-fi and dystopian anthology from Tu Books (a new imprint of Lee & Low); and the quirky and politically minded dystopian take on Moby Dick, Railsea by China Mieville.
So, while it wasn’t the best year for me, it was certainly a great year for books, and I can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring. Thanks for having me, Smugglers!
Thank you, Maggie!