It's difficult to get on my Top 10 list, because I have a very demanding set of criteria. I look at more than the believability of the characters and their motivations; I also want a well-conceptualized world and a plot that makes sense without depending on coincidences to resolve itself. Oh, and the story has to be well-written on a sentence-by-sentence basis. Even with high standards and a regretfully long list of titles I haven't gotten to reading yet this year, I still had to narrow the list down. Plus, there's six weeks left in the year.
As it stands, let me show you my reading bias:
This is the best book I’ve read this year. I cried, I laughed, I exclaimed out loud “OMG THAT’S AWESOME.” It’s lyrical, it’s lush, and I need to read it again because I think it wants to wrestle with The Graveyard Book for that all time favorite spot. (so if you’re wondering if that interview with Erin Bow was some kind of publisher promotion, it wasn’t. We asked, and were very grateful when we got a yes in response).
2. THE PAINTED BOY by Charles de Lint
The more I think about this book, the happier it makes me. De Lint is a master of weaving together the ordinary and the extraordinary. If you’ve never read him, The Painted Boy is a perfect starting point. (If you have read him, it’s a fantastic self-contained example of him at his best).
3. BEATUFUL DARKNESS by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
A couple people I know didn’t like this book. I did. I connected with it as strongly as I did the first. Could not put it down. Could not stop talking about it. That says Top 10 to me (you can read the review I did here).
4. CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments and I had one of those romances where we loved each other but we weren’t going to be long term. (Too many other books that didn’t have the pacing issues of City of Bones or Jace Wayland). Clockwork Angel is most of the good things about The Mortal Instruments and none of the bad. It’s fun, but more importantly: it’s well-written fun.
5. INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher
I could not put this book down. At the time I was reading it, it was everything that was missing from the Teen section. Twisty and dark; low on the romance, high on the adventure. I liked the questions it asked and the way even at the end, Finn isn’t sure he has the answer. Its sequel, Sapphique, is equally complex and wonderful.
6. THE LOST HERO by Rick Riordan
It was a tough call between this one or The Red Pyramid, but in the end I choose The Lost Hero because I liked the characters more (you can read my review of The Lost Hero here).
7. SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick
This gets the non-fantasy slot on the list, because it’s poignant and funny and heart-breaking and it has haikus in it.
9. SCOTT PILGRIM by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Do I really have to explain this? I mean, other than pointing out that it’s rated Older Teen. The joy this series brings outweighs its muddled final book for me. It's a crazy Canadian love song to everything awesome and you should get the DVD, too. You read the books for the backstory to the movie and you watch the movie for the more coherent ending.
10. SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi
This is not for everyone, but it’s a fine bit of speculative fiction. Well-written, gritty and dark. Why I think this is better dystopia than the Hunger Games is because you can see Ship Breaker happening two years from now.