Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Okay, this is the third book in a trilogy. I know a lot of people had mixed feelings about it. But this is a book that I read early in the year and I'm still thinking about it. This is one of the best portrayals of a teen assuming a royalty/leadership position that I've ever read. When Bitterblue takes the throne, she doesn't automatically know the answers. She has to figure out how to educate herself and how to best serve her kingdom, even when it means going against her friends in the castle.
Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This might be my favorite book I read this year. I mean tippity-top favorite. It's a compelling nonfiction book about a serious and controversial topic, written in a way that tells the story and introduces teen readers to historical figures that they'll come to care about.
Every Day by David Levithan. This book made me think about love. Why do we love the ones we do? Could you truly love someone separate from the physical them? This is another one that got a mixed reception and I know it's not perfect - there are some definite issues with body image going on here.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This is my favorite of John Green's books (and I have been a fan for quite some time). I used to think that I liked him more than I liked his books, but this book is different. It feels like a gift for his readers. Thanks, John Green.
Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado. This was my favorite graphic novel of the year. A feisty girl giant-slayer tricks her friends into going on a hunting expedition with her. I loved the likeably-flawed and spirited characters and I'm always down for a full color graphic novel.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. Nuns of death! Courtly intrigue! This was another one that I read early in the year and it's stuck with me. The romance built just right, the fantasy world was intriguing without being politically overwhelming. This was a fun, fun read and I've been recommending it to fantasy fans all year.
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. This companion book to her Newbery-honor-winning Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is just as good, if not better than that book. It deals with the power of story through a cast of characters that readers won't soon forget. I will be rooting for a shiny gold sticker for this one, come January.
Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery. This awesome biography is laid out in an appealing format. Here, young readers will meet Temple Grandin, an important player in the humane treatment of animals, and they will come away with a better understanding of disabilities and autism. Two thumbs way up.
As I look back over this list, I notice that they're almost all fantasy or nonfiction. I read a LOT of excellent nonfiction. I did read less overall this year than I did last year and I've listened to VERY few audiobooks (owing in large part to the fact that I no longer have a 40-60 minute daily commute time).
So, what do you think? What excellent book did I maybe miss out on this year? What are YOUR 2012 favorites?