The Best and Worst of 2012

After much deliberation and consideration, I have picked out my top 10 books of 2012.  The five best and the five worst.  It wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be.  Only two or three books jumped out at me as belonging on these lists and the rest were all most equal and needed to be thought over very carefully.  Finally, I reached a consensus.

The Five Best

 

renegade1. Renegade by J.A. Souders.

This book stood out to me by a mile when I considered my best books of the year.  I read it a little over a month ago and I still catch myself thinking about it and pondering over it.  I have recommended it to every person I know and will await the next book with bated breath.  It was a creepy and amazing book that was so much more than I ever expected it to be and created a fan out of me.

daughter of smoke & bone2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.

This is another book that swept me off my feet and enticed me into its world and didn’t want to let me go.  It is a beautifully written book and I expect a lot of great things for the author in the future.  A masterfully woven tale that I couldn’t put down.

nocturnal3. Noturnal by Scott Sigler

While I may not have reviewed this on the blog, it was one of my favorites all the same.  For anyone who doesn’t know, I am a gigantic fan of Scott Sigler.  I can only think of one thing I have read by him that I didn’t absolutely love.  Now this book does have a few moments where even a die-hard junkie like me rolled my eyes, but the overarching story was spectacular.  It was creepy, fun, and interesting for all the right reasons.  Sigler’s horror novels aren’t the kind that will scare you and make you check under the bed, that’s not his style of horror.  His style of horror is the kind that has you wrinkling your nose and thinking, “Oh my God!”

and all the stars4. And All the Stars  by Andrea K Host

This book was a surprise.  I had seen a lot of good reviews for it but wasn’t sure what to expect.  But it was a joy and a pleasure to read.  The characters were real, the story was interesting, and I couldn’t put it down.  Without a doubt one of the best books I picked up this year.

the lost prince5. The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Before last year I had never read a Julie Kagawa book.  I had heard a lot of great things and when I got offered the chance to read this beginning of a new series, I jumped at it to see what all the fuss was about.  The fuss was well deserved because this book was fantastic.  The world building was some of the best I have read and the characters were well-developed and rounded.  I will be reading from his author again and hope to be just as pleased.

 

 

The Five Worst

the rook

1. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

This book earned its place as the worst book of the year.  It was boring and amateurish.  The interest premise it established was squandered at every opportunity with boring nonsense.  I wanted to quit on this book so many times and probably would have if it wasn’t a book club read.  The long swathes of gibberish that had nothing to do with the plot made this the most annoying book I read all year.

the twelve2. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

POVs that switched and swapped every few pages and a convoluted plot that made everything about as clear as mud are the primary reason this book sucked.  Add in religious references being shoved in your face as nauseum and in the most annoying way possible and I wanted it to be over.  560 pages of purple prose later this book succeeded in making me fall asleep repeatedly and made my eyeballs shoot blood spontaneously to prevent any more pain.

ScarletUS.indd3. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

This book made me angry.  It has such a great story and it just pissed it away with typical boring YA garbage.  The heroine was embarrassing to all young girls on the planet and the heroes should be locked up to protect the women of the world.  I didn’t find a single redeeming quality about this book.

immortal city4. Immortal City by Scott Speer

If ever there was a book that should be destroyed for the protection of humanity, it’s this one.  Yet again, another fascinating premise that they author mutilated and destroyed until it was unrecognizable.  I hated the characters, the plot, the villain, and everything in between.  I sincerely hope Mr. Speer goes back to screenwriting, it’s a certainty that he’s more talented at that than novels.

breed5. Breed by Chase Novak

Ugh, what a waste of a tree.  The characters were so irritating that I really didn’t care if awful things happened to them.  The plot dragged on and on and on but yet we never got anywhere.  There was no point to any of it and no resolution in the end.

 

So that’s it ladies and gents.  These are my favorite and most hated books of 2012.  I’m interested in knowing what yours are.  Add a comment and tell me!

Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Expected Publication: November 13th, 2012 by Tor Teen

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover and Synopsis from the Goodreads book page

 

Synopsis:

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.

Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb… and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

 

Rating (out of 5):

 

Review:

I have a serious, serious case of coverlust for this book.  I first saw this cover online in February.  It is so spectacular that I literally drooled over it.  I loved the cover and the little blurb that went with it and I knew I needed to read this book.  Frustratingly, I couldn’t find it available for pre-order anywhere I looked.  So I added it to my to-buy list and then it got pushed to the back of my mind.  Until I saw it pop up on NetGalley and I had a complete fangirl moment of squealing in pleasure and then praying that I would get a copy for review.  When I did, it was another fangirl squeal moment with the intense prayer that this book not disappoint me .  And I am delighted to say that it did not disappoint at all.
“My life is just about perfect.”

This is the story of Evelyn.  She wakes up every morning and goes out to her gardens and plays violin or does her cross stitching until her Maids come fetch her for whatever task she is supposed to do that day.  Yes, her life is just about perfect.  Or so she thinks, but then her memory isn’t exactly very trustworthy.  We learn within the first chapter of this book that something strange is going on with Evelyn and we realize that although we are in her head for this book, we can’t trust what she’s telling us because she can’t trust what she’s telling us.  From the very start you are put off kilter by this book and it just gets more disturbing from there.

“Failure will not be tolerated. The only result of failure is death
-Enforcer Statute 104A.3”

This is quite possibly the most apt description of Mother (the leader of this underwater world) that one could possibly come up with.  She is intent on perfection.  The perfect society, the perfect citizens, the perfect daughter, the perfect world.  And she will go to any lengths to get it.  Her true nature is given to us as a reader very early on, and she just gets more and more twisted the farther you get.  It seemed like every single chapter I was left with my mouth hanging open in shock that she would stoop that low, and then she would stoop even lower the next time.  Mother was an excellent villain for this book.  Just reading her name  now is giving me chills, and I finished the book hours ago.

“Surface Dwellers are dangerous and manipulative, they should be shot on sight.”

Then we meet Gavin, a Surface Dweller, who is taken into custody and Evelyn is charged with questioning him to discover how he came to their underwater world.  She is intrigued with his stories of the surface but struck that they sound so different from what she has always been taught.  He looks so much different than anyone else in her world of Elysium, and he seems genuinely interested in everything she is and does.  They quickly form a bond and as the lies start being uncovered they go on the run together to learn the truth and make a life for themselves without being under Mother’s thumb.  This romance does have a bit of a smack of insta-love but it didn’t feel that way to me.  It felt like two young people who have been thrown together out of a sheer need to survive and form an instant bond that will hopefully keep them alive.  I liked that, it felt genuine to me.  I also LOVE Gavin.  He is everything you could ever want in a YA hero.  He is smart, brave, intelligent, funny, helpful, thoughtful, and throws in a bit of sarcasm to break up the tension.  He accepts Evelyn for who she is and what challenges are presented to be with her, and accepts that he needs to be a man protecting them but also allow Evelyn the opportunity to do her own bit of rescuing too.  He is protective without being controlling.  He is intelligent without being annoying.  And he is confident without being cocky.  Evelyn is the same way and so they are largely the perfect match for each other.  Evelyn is smart and brave too but also very damaged.  She is broken and damaged and that is something a reader can relate to.

If you looked at this book and thought that it sounded like a fun, fancy free, light-hearted book about people who live in the ocean, you might want to keep on looking.  This book starts out dark from the first chapter and it only gets more gritty and disturbing from there.  But that is what made it wonderful and I didn’t want to put this book down.  I read the last 150 pages or so in one sitting because it was so impossible to put it aside.  There were a few minor issues that kept this from being 5 stars.  First I was never really quite sure why Evelyn was so attracted to Gavin.  I knew why I would be attracted to Gavin but Evelyn only seemed to talk about how he looked different than everyone else and she liked it when he touched her.  That seemed shallow when there were so many other things that could have been added to that.  Also at times there was so much going on with the plot that it got a little confusing to keep track of things.  But, if you want a dark and gritty book that will absolutely capture your attention and have you reading late into the night, then I suggest you buy this book.

This book was received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No compensation or promises were exchanged.  All quotes are from an unedited advance copy of the book.