Being a bookworm is a hobby that, when unchecked, requires lots of bookshelf space and money. Choosing which books to buy — especially when there are so many options! — can be a tough decision. And nobody should have to suffer from buyer's remorse.
Personally, I'll borrow every book I read from the library (yay libraries!) and then only purchase the ones that I loved so much they're worth a reread (and a post recommending them here!). These also happen to be the ones I push onto my friends when they're looking for a good book, hence my bookcase is more like its own mini library, something of which I'm totally proud.
In no particular order, here are my 5 favorite books of those I reviewed on this blog in 2012. They are well worth your Christmas money / bookstore gift card spending! Each book title is linked to my full review.
Assassin. Nuns. Not that I need to say more, but this is perfect if you love kick-butt heroines, historical fiction, achingly good romance, internal conflict, monarchy troubles, and books you can sink your teeth into, like FIRE by Kristin Cashore.
This is the number one book I've been recommending because it really has made my all-time favorites list, and I don't see it being ousted anytime soon. It's everything you want in a book and more, and it's elevated the YA genre.
You might have heard that this has garnered some big-deal top honors in a few Best of 2012 lists. Acclaim aside, this book has Green's signature sense of humor and tackles a rough subject head-on with grace and a few necessary tuggings of the heartstrings. Ok, I wept like a baby. Green's best work since LOOKING FOR ALASKA.
A standout Jane Austen retelling, this time of PERSUASION. It took me a little to get into it, but once I did, I was transported. Excellent dystopian world-building, characters so real you want to smack them upside the head, and romantic tension that gives you so many bosom-clutching, all-caps FEELINGS that Ms. Austen would be proud.
This book is the sequel to GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, and it. was. amazing. Most trilogies' middle novels are lackluster at best, but I think I loved this one even better than the standout first book! This series is what I deem "relatable high fantasy" — in that there are magical elements in an imagined world, but it feels more like historical fiction than anything. (AKA, no elves to speak of.) Read it, read it, read it.
At BEA in 2011, LEGEND was everywhere. It was a totally buzzed-about debut, so I got my hands on an ARC...... and proceeded to wait a couple months to read it. And then I loved it.
Fast-forward to BEA 2012. The ARC of the sequel, PRODIGY, was being released. Not only was I first in line for Marie Lu's signing, but I also started PRODIGY on the train home... and finished it fewer than two days later.
At long last, the release is just over a month away, and I get to tell you why you should read it, too!
Summary from Goodreads: The Elector Primo of
the Republic has died, with his son assuming power over what’s left of
the USA’s West Coast as it teeters on full-blown chaos. June and Day
join up with Patriot rebels so they can rescue Day’s brother and head
east for the Colonies. In order to help, though, the rebels want June
and Day to kill the new Elector, who may pose an even greater threat
than his father.
Here are the top 5 reasons I (highly!) recommend that you read PRODIGY:
1. Lights, Camera...
Like LEGEND, PRODIGY throws you right into the action, picking up where LEGEND left off, with June and Day on the run from the Republic. I read the book at an almost breathless pace, but I liked that the action was more Alias- or Mission:Impossible-esque situations. And there were plenty of excellent in-between scenes so rife with urgency and tension that I never was bored. (I rarely say this with books, but I really hope this trilogy ends up being made into movies.)
2. He Said, She Said
June and Day alternate points of view again, but in PRODIGY, Lu did an even better job at making their voices distinct in the way they phrase and view both people and situations. She reinforced their differing pasts by weaving details in their narration, which I liked. Since her debut, she's definitely become more deft at balancing their POVs, and June and Day's complementary (and sometimes contradictory) opinions and interpretations of the same situation really added to the story.
3. The Swoon Factor
Le romance. LOVE IT. June and Day don't know each other all that well, but they share a bond, so there's this awesome balance of HOT tension and swoony, sweet moments. (Plus the requisite miscommunications and frustrations were well done.) The best news? None of this ever overpowered the actual political plot.
But seriously. Marie Lu, I bow to your ability to evoke the swoon.
Especially in that one scene in the beginning.
You know the one I'm talking about.
4. Trust No One.
So yes, there are some romantic moments between June and Day, but they also were archenemies like, two weeks ago, which complicates their ability to trust and understand one another. Also, they've been through enough to automatically question everything they hear and everyone they meet.
In PRODIGY, they're working with the Patriots, a rebel group that Day had always fought against joining and June had always tried to destroy. The Patriots want June and Day to kill the Republic's new Elector Primo in exchange for rescuing Day's brother from the Republic, but murder isn't really their style.
Suffice to say that with all the secrets and conflicting motivations, there are multiple battles of duty vs loyalty vs instincts.
5. The End! Almost.
PRODIGY certainly does not fall victim to Middle Novel Syndrome. (Primary Symptom of MNS: Nothing Actually Happens. It's just a happy little bridge to the third book, with barely any stakes and indiscernible plot.) PRODIGY certainly has high stakes and a distinct plot (which comes to a full conclusion!), but as with any great middle novel, it leaves us dying for the final piece of the trilogy.
Marie Lu signing PRODIGY at BEA.
Obviously, I have severe love for this book. I think I liked it more than LEGEND, but that may just be because I already cared about June and Day when I began. Either way, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Leave your thoughts (or a link to your review) in the comments! Pre-order PRODIGY now! It releases Jan. 29, 2013.