Where has 2012 gone? The year is more than half over, and already we've all read so many great books. The team here at Indigo has put together a list of our favourites reads so far. Many of these books have been featured on our blog or are sitting in my To Be Read pile. Presenting the Best Teen Books of 2012 So Far (in no particular order):
Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Is it any surprise? This highly anticipated book revealed some secrets and raised the stakes for both Tris & Four without introducing a love triangle. Read our review and our Q&A with Veronica Roth.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer. We're all mad for the first book of The Lunar Chronicles and its fun sci-fi take on fairy tales, but team teen member Natalie is definitely the most passionate advocate for this title. Read her review and Q&A with Marissa Meyer.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Each member of team teen, and several of our adult-reading coworkers, were blown away by John Green's latest. Team Teen member Melanie read the manuscript early and warned us all to get our tissues ready. Read her review.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. The sequel to the amazing Graceling! Who hasn't been waiting to find out what happened to Bitterblue? This title was delayed until May of this year, but it's definitely been worth the wait.
Starters by Lissa Price. Lissa and I were on a panel about teen dystopian novels at World Fantasy last October, and that was when I knew I wanted to read Starters. You can read my review to find out why. Many of us got a kick out of this and we're eagerly waiting for Enders!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. A fabulous new Russian-inspired debut that starts the promising Grisha fantasy trilogy. I can't wait to dig into this one!
While they aren't featured in the shop because of the limited space, I'll point out Above by Leah Bobet (Read our Q & A) and Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan & Justine Larbalestier. Natalie adds that she also loved City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.
What'll make it really tough is that we still have five and a half months of books left to read, and the slots on my Top Ten of 2012 list are quickly vanishing. There are so many more great books coming out! Like:
The Kill Order by James Dashner. (8/14) The prequel to Dashner's The Maze Runner trilogy has us on the edge of our seats. We can't wait to get our answers as to what happened to our world before W.I.C.K.E.D.
The Diviners by Libba Bray. (9/18) Kate and I have already read this one, and we can barely contain our excitement for the rest of you to get to. This is magic and consequence and history as only Libba Bray can write it.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. (9/18) This maginficent book is about wealth and privilege, the dynamics of male friendships, a girl whose kiss will kill her true love, ley lines and Welsh Kings. It'll break your heart in all the best ways.
Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. (10/23) The last book of The Caster Chronicles, which began with Beautiful Creatures. This series has been like my Twilight, so I have mixed feelings about it ending--but I trust the authors to do it well. And then it's movie time on Feburary 13, 2013!
What about you? The best book you've read in 2012 so far would be...? Join the discussion on Twitter via #BestOf2012SoFar.
There was a lot of buzz over Beth Fantaskey’s first novel, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, a paranormal romance that focused on the relationship between Jessica Packwood and the Romanian vampire prince, Lucius Vladescu. Fans of Becca Fitzpatrick and Stephenie Meyer will love Fantaskey’s biting (pun intended) sense of humour as Jessica tries to come to terms with her fate as a Romanian vampire princess.
In the sequel, Jessica Rules the Darkside, the Romanian princess must fight to clear Lucius’s name when he’s accused of murder. Fantaskey has graciously given us this exclusive guest post about her new novel and what this new struggle means for Jessica.
One thing that consistently resonates with those who like my books about vampire princess Jessica Packwood is Jess’s inner strength. I’m always incredibly happy when I get e-mails from readers who tell me that Jess inspired them to embrace unique aspects of their appearance or to stand up for themselves – or both.
I’ll let you in on a semi-secret, though.
When I wrote Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side – the first book – I didn’t set out to create a “strong” female character or a role model for girls. To be honest, to me, Jess is just a typical girl. Based upon my first-hand experience as a former girl, now middle-aged woman and mother, girls simply are powerful and capable. I couldn’t quite imagine portraying them any other way. Even Jess’s best friend, who’s not “book smart,” has her own considerable assets, from fierce loyalty to practical savvy that saves the day, more than once.
That said, I was keenly aware that some readers look up to Jess as I wrote the second novel, Jessica Rules the Dark Side, which tells the story of Jess’s (rocky) adjustment to life as married, official royalty in Romania, where she doesn’t even speak the language.
Interestingly, however, some readers have questioned why Jess’s considerable self-confidence falters, if only briefly, in the sequel.
Again, to me, it was only natural that a young woman who finds herself isolated in a foreign castle with vampires who want to destroy her and her husband would get scared.
Jess is not a superhero, and I didn’t want to portray her that way. Although she’s a vampire princess – two things that, let’s face it, most of us will never be – I wanted her to be a real inspiration for girls or anyone, for that matter, who’s ever gotten scared but managed to overcome it.
After all, what is more courageous than conquering paralyzing terror?
I’m never more proud of my daughters than when they admit to being scared but forge anyway anyway, whether they’re giving a book report in front of a class or getting on a plane to travel to China.
Heck, I’m pretty proud of myself every time that I teach, even though I sometimes get hives before walking into the classroom, because my fear of public speaking is pretty intense.
I would only be disappointed in one of my kids, or myself – or a character – if she didn’t at least try to fight through her anxiety.
To me, Jess is at her strongest the moment she fully understands her husband Lucius Vladescu’s reminder that “fear is the worst kind of grave, because it buries one alive” and pulls herself out of bed to save his life, in spite of still being terrified.
So girls, if you find yourselves in situations that you wish you could just breeze through, but which give you sweaty palms and heart palpitations – or even make you want to run away and hide – that’s okay by this author. I’m right there with you, and I hope that you can draw some inspiration from a vampire princess who’s also struggled with terror as you fight your own phobias.
Best wishes, and as always, please keep in touch!
We thank Beth Fantaskey and Thomas Allen for arranging this guest post.
Summer reading time is almost here! To get you started, we've rounded up our Top 10 tites for this month:
Pretty Little Liars 11: Stunning by Sara Shepard. Poor Pretty Little Liars? What will A do next? Find out in the latest instalment of this suspenseful series .
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. A fantasy debut with Russian influences, this is the first in the Grisha trilogy.Keeping Secrets by Alyson Noel. New to you, Keeping Secrets is a paperback repackage of Alyson Noel's Saving Zoe and Faking 19 in one volume.
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer. Jodi Picoult is known for adult books teens read like My Sister's Keeper, but this is her YA debut. (June 26)
Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent. Six in the Soul Screamers series. (June 26)
Hardcovers too heavy for the beach? Try these five paperbacks instead:
Awakened by P.C. & Kristin Cast. 8th in the House of Night series.
Ten Things We Did and Probably Shouldn't Have by Sarah Mlynowski (Canadian author). Both funny and bittersweet, this is the story of a sixteen-year-old on her own for the first time and how it leads to the list mentioned in the title. (June 19)
Already read most of these titles? Here's three bonus books I've got my eye on:
Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson. (Canadian author.) A dystopian novel combining aboriginal mythology in a future setting.
While we can joke that Cassandra Clare brought Sebastian back from the dead in City of Lost Souls, the truth is that there has been an abundance of teen books lately about Death, Reapers and Necromancy. For example, R.L. LaFevers' Grave Mercy, which we mentioned in our Hot New Historicals post.
Whereas Cat Patrick's Revived is about being brought back to life, The Catastrophic History of Me and You by Jess Rothenberg, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver or If I Stay by Gayle Forman are about passing on.
Maybe this started with Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning? The first book of her Darkest Powers trilogy introduced us to Chloe Saunders, a young necromancer. While The Summoning wasn't the first YA book to deal with necormancy, it was a definite hit among readers.
Whatever the cause, one of the most popular Deaths in fiction, it seems, is Hades. Meg Cabot’s Abandon 2: Underworld—the sequel to Abandon—is a modern retelling of Hades and Persephone. He’s also a prominent figure in Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test and Goddess Interrupted. Even Brodi Ashton's Everneath was inspired by the Hades and Persephone myth. (Starcrossed and Dreamless by Josephine Angelini also feature the Grecian Underworld.)
But if you're ready to move on from Hades, here are four books you may have missed that I can highly recommend:
The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Kaylee Cavanagh is a bean sidhe, also known as a banshee, and Vincent has successfully crafted a series full of romance, adventure and horror. Also, it has Tod Hudson, one of the greatest reapers ever! (Not because he’s particularly good at his job, but because, well, he’s funny and handsome and always there to help Kaylee.) The newest book, Before I Wake, will be out in late June.
Croak by Gina Damico. Like your Reapers to contain more fun than fear? Then you need to check out this book. Lex’s poor behaviour has her shipped off to her Uncle Mort’s farm in upstate New York for the summer. Except the farm is actually the town of Croak, and Uncle Mort is actually a Reaper. (And that may or may not be a Discworld reference.)
The Queen of the Dead: Book 1: Silence by Michelle Sagara. Ultimately a book about grief and why we keep going, Silence weaves necromancy and the dead through the streets of Toronto. A strong cast of believable characters ground this YA debut by one of Canada’s established fantasy authors.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Speaking of funny, this title has charmed me completely. Sam is a vinyl-loving, burger flipping college dropout, who has recently learned he’s a necromancer. Perfect for anyone who loved Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood as much as I did. Lish McBride's second book, Necromancing the Stone, is out this fall.
What a month! May has many fabulous Teen releases, but we've narrowed it down to our Top 10:
Gilt by Katherine Longshore. A new historical series that's being pitched as Gossip Girl in The Tudors era.
Endure by Carrie Jones. The latest in the series of pixies with poisonous kisses. Team Teen member, Melanie, has been waiting for this one. You can see her review of the first book of the series, here.
The Enchantress by Michael Scott (5/22). The FINAL book of Michael Scott's epic The Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series.
Fated by Alyson Noel (5/22). The Soul Seekers is Alyson Noel's new series, and this book starts it all. Daire Santos can walk the worlds between the living and the dead, but is the boy of her dreams her destiny or her enemy?
Order of Darkness: Changeling by Philippa Gregory (5/22). A YA debut from the Queen of Historical Fiction. Luca Vero maps fears for the Church in a time when people still truly believed in changelings and werewolves.
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (5/22). A debut novel about merfolk that we think you're going to love. What makes this difference from all the others? It's about a merman.
Also, here are five titles out in paperback that you've probably been waiting for:
Passion by Lauren Kate. The third book of Lauren Kate's Fallen series.
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel. Winner of this year's Red Cedar award in the Forest of Reading, and first book in the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein trilogy.
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (5/29). The first book in Michelle Read's new Bloodlines series set in the same universe as Vampire Academy.
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter (5/29). Second of the Heist Society novels.
Finally, five bonus books that I've got my eye on this month:
Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready. This is the final book in her wonderful paranormal romance trilogy, which features the only love triangle I support. (Besides Damon, Elena and Stefan, of course.) Shade (Book 1) and Shift (Book 2) have also been repacked with lovely new covers.
Queen of the Dead: Silence by Michelle Sagara. If you are tiring of insta-romance and just want to read a great paranormal book with characters who so believable you'll think you know them then this one is for you. Bonus points for it being set in Toronto and being writing by a T.O. author.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. I am so ashamed that I didn't read this sooner, but grab the shiny new paperback version and get ready to love this book. Funny, smart, and scary = highly recommended for all of you who love Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock. A debut from a Canadian author! Not everything is as it seems, as Mac investigates the murder of her best friend Amy and trackers search her town for a white werewolf.
We’ve always got our eyes open here at Indigo for what reading trends are coming next. Paranormals like ghosts and vampires and werewolves have all but been vanquished. Contemporary is making a comeback, and Dystopian futures are fading in favour of historical fiction.
We’ve seen plenty of Victorian Era novels: Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, Y.S. Lee’s The Agency series, Anna Godbersen's The Luxe series, and Saundra Mitchell's The Vespertine. We’ve also got early twentieth century novels, like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan and Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity.
However, Kristin Cashore’s much anticipated fantasy Bitterblue (ok, it's technically not history) and Kenneth Oppel’s award-winning This Dark Endeavour herald a new interest in older settings. Here are three other historical YA novels on our radar:
The Royal Circle: Book One: Gilt by Katherine Longshore. Out this week, this debut novel and first book in a new series has been explained as Gossip Girl set during The Tudors. Cat and Kitty, two friends who serve the Duchess of Norfolk, navigate the tricky court politics of Henry the VII after Cat becomes queen. You thought scandal originated in the Upper East End of NYC? Think again!
Order of Darkness: Book One: Changeling by Philppa Gregory. (May 22) Philippa Gregory is the Lady of Historical Fiction. Her adult novels, like The Other Boleyn Girl and The Lady of The Rivers, have a massive readership. Now, Gregory is trying her hand at YA fiction. What makes Changeling interesting is how it brushes against paranormal. Set during a time when people honestly believed in things like changelings or werewolves, the book features a cast of older teen characters who have been commanded by the church to “collect fears” for the church.
His Fair Assassin: Book One: Grave Mercy by R.A. LaFevers. This historical novel set in France is rich with intrigue and romance. Ismae escapes an arranged marriage to the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still worship the gods of old. She becomes a handmaiden of Death, taking the lives of others in order to claim her new life. Her first mission takes her to the court of Brittany, where she must weigh her heart against her sworn duty.
Does this mark the start of a return to the past for teen books? If they’re all as good as these ones then we hope so!
After the cliffhanger of City of Fallen Angels, we’ve all been waiting for Cassandra Clare’s City of Lost Souls so we could find out what awaits Jace, Clary, Simon and…Sebastian? That’s right, my favourite homicidal rogue Shadowhunter, Sebastian Verlac AKA the real Jonathan Morgenstern, is back in City of Lost Souls and eager to settle the score.
Chills, am I right?
But you’re here for the first word in our #IndigoCOLS Scavenger Hunt. Five words have been scattered across the net that form a secret phrase. You'll find clues tweeted from @chaptersindigo throughout this afternoon (May 8, 2012) with the final clue coming at 5:00 pm ET. Then you have until 6:00 pm ET to tweet the complete secret phrase to @chaptersindigo with the designated hashtag #IndigoCOLS. Miss a clue? Check the hashtag! Want to see all the rules and regulations? Here they are.
Six people are going to win a prize pack including a City of Lost Souls t-shirt, a Shadowhunter family ring (various kinds - sorry,you don't get to choose which one), and the Indigo Exclusive Edition of City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare!
Are you ready for the first word?
Your next clue will be on @chaptersindigo at 2:00 pm ET, so look for it then.
Review has spoilers for Divergent.
Veronica Roth’s Insurgent is one of the most anticipated titles this year for Team Teen, as we were all so blown away by Divergent last year. I couldn't put down the pulse-pounding, adrenaline-spiked story of Beatrice "Tris" Prior. Her future Chicago divided into Factions who embody five different virtues captivated me. It made me wonder where I'd end up: Amity (peace), Abnegation (service), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (courage), or Erudite (knowledge.)
While the oddmakers may be wondering what the next Hunger Games will be, I'm telling you that you can bet on it being The Divergent trilogy.
In Divergent, Tris chose to leave her native Faction of Abnegation and join the Dauntless. She also learned that she is a Divergent—someone who has affinity for more than one virtue. She survived the intense and ruthless Dauntless initiation and then uncovered an Erudite conspiracy to turn her fellow Faction members into simulation-controlled slaves.
But stopping the simulation comes at a terrible personal cost to Tris, and we watch her struggle with the fallout in Insurgent. Divergent built her to be a strong character capable of amazing sacrifice, but in Insurgent we see her knocked down and broken. Both the stakes and the body count in Insurgent are higher than they were in Divergent, as Tris fights a divided Faction to try and save her city.
Also, there’s her relationship with Tobias “Four” Eaton. Four and Tris are a pair of flawed characters struggling in a conflicted world to be better for one another. That's one of the things I really appreciate about Roth’s Trilogy: NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Finally, an action-packed book that knows a single relationship has enough struggles and triumphs to keep it interesting.
Roth expands the our view of the Factions in this second instalment, as we only really saw Abnegation and Dauntless in the first book. With Insurgent, we visit Amity and Candor. So much thought has gone into this world—everything from how conflicts would be resolved, to the architecture and jobs of the Factions reflect what they do. I love it.
The trick with a second book in a series is that it either has to be bigger or it has to dig deeper. I like that Roth chose to expand while keeping the events centred in Chicago. One of the biggest questions at the end of Divergent for me was what happens next? And Roth balances swift pacing with a sense of time passing so that things happen in a realistic manner. Character grieve and suffer as people would, which adds to the realism of her book.
If you adored Divergent for Tris and Four, its world and its didn't-see-that-coming-plot, then get to one of our stores on May 1 2012 and ask for a copy of Insurgent. Read it in a day, and then we'll countdown to the epic finale. together.
Where has April gone? It feels like it just got started! If you're looking for something to read, here's a list of the titles this month that has our team at Indigo excited:
The Calling by Kelley Armstong. The second in her Darkness Rising trilogy.
The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad. Lauren returns to show us what happens on the other side of the camera.
Ascend: A Trylle Novel by Amanda Hocking. Find out how it all ends in the final book of The Trylle Trilogy.
Stolen by Lucy Christopher in paperback. Gemma gets stalked, kidnapped, and then expected to love the guy who did it.
Immortal City by Scott Speer. The most famous Angel in the city and the one girl who doesn't care hunt a serial killer. (C'mon, you know you're curious.)
Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac. From the Vancouver author, this is a contemporary novel about a girl who's mother is a hoarder.
Whisper by Alyson Noel. Newest in The Riley Bloom series.
Black Heart by Holly Black the previous books White Cat and Red Glove are out in paperback with lovely new covers. Also, Zombies vs. Unicorns—which was co-edited by Holly Black—is now out in paperback. Read our interview with Holly.
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin. A stunningly atmospheric debut that draws its inspiration from an Edgar Allen Poe short story of the same name.
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. The new series from Julie Kagawa is set in a dystopian future where vampires rule humanity. Forced to become a vampire, Allie searches for the key to save humanity. It's already been optioned for a film.
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han in paperback. The final book in the Summer trilogy and the paperback has bonus material.
Special mentions this month to...
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson. A book set in Toronto and filled with Carribean culture. Looking for something different? Give this one a try.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. I read an ARC of this book after it was suggested to me when I was lamenting that there isn't anything like Dexter in the teen section. This isn't quite teen Dexter, but it is so good. It hits all the emotional triggers, the characters are fantastic and I can't wait for the next installment. But it is not for the faint of heart!
Since this week is Friday the 13th, we're very lucky to have a guestpost from William Hill, author of the terrifying Department 19 and its sequel, The Rising. Department 19 is a secret branch of the British government that protects its citizens from vampires--and if you've been looking for real, gruesome monsters then these books are for you!
He's here to tell us why he writes those "horrible" things he does. (And also to give me traumatic flashbacks to reading Stephen King's It.) Welcome, Mr. Hill!
WHY I LIKE READING (AND WRITING) SCARY BOOKSWhen I was about 12 I was so scared by Stephen King’s It that I slept with the light on, having placed the book itself, a beautiful old library hardback with a terrifying oil-painted amusement park clown on the cover, in the middle of my bedroom floor, so that I could keep an eye on it.
It was the prologue that did it.
George Denbrough chases a paper boat down the flooded streets of his home town, until he loses it down an overflowing drain. A drain in which he finds a friendly, charming clown. A clown that suddenly changes shape and pulls George’s arm off at the shoulder, leaving him to bleed to death in the rain and the rushing water.
That was it for me.
Not only was it the moment when I closed the book and asked my mum to take it back to the library for me, as I was too scared to even touch the thing, but it was also the moment when I first understood the power that books can have. The power to make you scared.
I wrote Department 19 because I wanted to tell Jamie’s story, the story of an ordinary boy thrown into an extraordinary world, where he has to sink or swim, where he finds out who he really is. But I’ll be totally honest – I wanted to scare readers as well. Not because I’m mean, or vicious, or some kind of sadist, but because I think that books have a unique quality; how scary they are is limited only to the power of the reader’s imagination.
I can describe the vampires in Department 19 in as much detail as I choose, but the picture of them that appears in one reader’s head is still going to be very different to that of another. In films and TV, the monsters, the villains, the frightening and scary things, are fully formed and shown, the decisions that the director and the makeup department have made, presented to you. That doesn’t mean they can’t be scary, not at all – The Exorcist, The Omen, the original A Nightmare On Elm Street, all scared me silly when I was younger than I am now. But they’re a communal experience, where everyone who sees them sees the same thing.
Books are different. With books, it’s just the words on the page and the power of your own imagination. It’s personal.
When I was a teenager, I went straight from reading children’s books to reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert etc. and my mother, who always encouraged me to read, and would bring me horror paperbacks home from the second-hand shops near where we lived, even though she didn’t really approve of them, would often ask me “Why do you read all that horrible stuff?” She still asks me that question, but now she also asks me “How can you think of the horrible stuff you write?” I didn’t have an answer for her when I was younger, but I think I understand it a bit better now.
I loved (and still love) horror because nothing makes you feel more alive than having looked into the darkness.
It’s placing yourself in harm’s way, without actually taking any physical risk. It’s like being on a rollercoaster – you know full well that it’s safe, you know that nothing genuinely bad is going to happen to you, but your heart is pounding, your palms are clammy, you’re doing that slightly hysterical grin that is meant to show you’re not scared, but in fact gives you away completely. And while the ride may be horrible, it may be an ordeal, it may not be something you ever want to do again, when you get off at the other end, your legs wobbling, your face pale, the sensation of being alive, of having survived, is wonderful. It’s adrenaline and it’s endorphins but it’s ultimately the primal, joyous sense of being alive.
That’s what scary books did for me.
You can confront terrible things, evils both great and small, violence and pain and anguish, and you can do it all from the comfort of your favourite chair, or lying in bed with a small lamp on, the one that’s light doesn’t quite reach the corners of the room, the dark corners where things can hide, and wait. And if it gets too much, you can simply close the book, and come back to the real world for a while.
For whatever reason, the human brain seems to have a bit that has a tendency towards the masochistic; it’s the bit that looks at the rollercoaster tracks and thinks it can see cracks in the metal, that looks at the dog being walked innocently in the park and imagines it suddenly accelerating towards you, it’s jaws wide, foam frothing from its mouth. This is the bit of our brains that give horror its power. And that’s why I write scary books, and why I still read them. Because I love tapping into something primal, experiencing something visceral. Because being scared is good.
It’s one of the ways that you know you’re alive.