Best Young Adult Fiction of 2012

Books

YA as a genre saw a lot of good press this year. Not only did 2012 see the release of the eagerly awaited film of the first in The Hunger Games trilogy, and subsequent spike in sales of the series, we also (sort of) waved goodbye to the Twilight franchise. Although there are conflicting rumours of further books and films, the original four books have now run their course, and other series are emerging to steal the spotlight.

One of the most popular paranormal romance series is the Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, which this year saw the release of the penultimate book Silence in paperback and the aptly named Finale in hardback. If angels and slightly ridiculous plotlines are your thing, this phenomenally popular, if very silly series, is for you.

I personally preferred the sass of Ruth Warburton’s Winter trilogy, beginning with A Witch in Winter and continuing with A Witch in Love, the story of a teenage girl who moves to a small town and discovers she’s actually an incredibly powerful witch descended from a vast and monstrous clan. When she tries to use her new found powers to enchant the local hottie, everything starts to go horribly wrong.

These books are actually quite funny and well written, and there’s only three of them (the last is due out in February next year) so they won’t completely ruin your finances.

Other popular YA authors with new books out this year included Julie Kagawa, whose Iron Fey series was one of the better things to come out of 2011 and whose new series, The Blood Of Eden, is vampire-based.

Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, the follow-up to the excellent Divergent, based in a dystopian universe where the world is based in ‘factions’, was released in May. Aprilynne Pike also finished off her long-running Laurel series, about faeries who have flowers growing out of their spines, with Destined in April.

The Delirium trilogy, one of my favourites last year, by Lauren Oliver also happily continued, with the equally excellent Pandemonium. Horror also got a look in with the second of Kirsty McKay’s excellent Zombie thrillers Unfed released in September.

But YA wasn’t all fantasy in 2012, with some of my favourites being historical fiction. Shirley Hughes, whose children’s books include the famous Dogger and the Alfie series, released her first full length novel Hero on a Bicycle, set in war time Florence, this summer.

Other good historical fiction included Stones for my Father by Trilby Kent, set in South Africa during the Boer War, and A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss, about a woman passing as a male soldier in the American Civil War. I also loved Cora Harrison’s Debutantes, perfect for fans of Downton Abbey.

For Books’ Sake favourite Andrea Eames saw the release of her second book, The White Shadow, the story of two siblings living in the former Rhodesia during the uprisings of the 1960s.

This is a sad but powerful book which opens with a man sitting in the corpse of an elephant and it made me weep. Andrea is a fantastic writer who is currently working on another novel also set in Zimbabwe which I for one cannot wait for.

My favourite YA book of the year, however, goes to the magical, beautiful, heart-breaking The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, about a Lyla-esque heroine living in London in the 1950s who inadvertently falls into a conspiracy to stop nuclear war. The subject matter might seem a little odd, but the book is stunning, beautifully illustrated and I was nose-to-spine for the whole thing.

It is impossible not to fall in love with the main characters and their witty fast dialogue, this is YA that in no way patronises and promotes people thinking about what they are reading, and it is all the better book for that.

Which YA novel or series was number one in 2012 for you? Did your favourite make our list?

Jess Haigh

(Image via shutterhacks)