Anyway, at the very top of this prestigious (in my mind) list is a novel you have heard me mention once or twice . . . Jasper Fforde's incomparable Shades of Grey.
Welcome to Chromatacia, where the societal hierarchy is strictly regulated by one's limited color perception. And Eddie Russet wants to move up. But his plans to leverage his better-than-average red perception and marry into a powerful family are quickly upended. Juggling inviolable rules, sneaky Yellows, and a risky friendship with an intriguing Grey named Jane who shows Eddie that the apparent peace of his world is as much an illusion as color itself, Eddie finds he must reckon with the cruel regime behind this gaily painted facade.
This book is a dystopian to beat all dystopians. The first three chapters I spent scratching my head going, "Whaaaaaa . . . . ???" And then I stopped trying to make everything make sense and just allowed myself to be pulled into the world. Eddie and his dad open the novel on a tour, planning to visit the Last Rabbit? Okay. One of the most common forms of death are deadly swan attacks? Okay. Spoons are the most valuable trading commodity? Okay.
And, weirdly enough, it all made sense another few chapters in. I was part of Eddie's world and totally caught up in the bizarre and compelling plot! And that kick-in-the-gut ending? Absolutely pitch perfect. This book, despite all the fabulous reads of this last year, easily took First Place as My Number One Pick.
Warning: This is not a YA read. I would rate it at least PG-13. All of you younger readers should make certain you have parental permission before you pick this one up. Fabulous as it is, I would caution discretion to teen readers.
My next pick is a very recent read, but I did read it before the end of 2012, and it more than deserves its second place standing. This is The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.
In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.
That summary swiped from Amazon really does not do this amazing book justice. I was particularly interested to read it because I heard it was retelling of the Ballad of Tam Lin. My untitled Book 6 is a very loose retelling of Tam Lin as well. I wondered if I would like Elizabeth Marie Pope's version, or if I would find it a little disappointing after my recent forays into that famous legend.
IT IS NOT DISAPPOINTING. It is rare that I come across a hitherto unread YA author whom I truly look upon as a master and a mentor. Elizabeth Marie Pope is one of those rare writers. I want to sit at her metaphorical feet and drink in whatever she might teach me! I adored this book . . . it kept me up until 2:00am, and then I needed another hour to unwind after the breathtaking finale!
This is a YA appropriate read, and one I highly recommend. There are some very frightening passages, particularly toward the end that gave me real chills. But in a good way. This book is my Second Pick of the Year
And then last, but never least, Sir Terry Pratchett's Snuff stole my readerly heart.
I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan, so I knew I was going to love this book. I'm also a particular fan of his character, Sam Vimes . . . who really might be my favorite Pratchett character of all time. I was not expecting this book to take me so much by surprise, however! But then, that's my own fault. Terry Pratchett always takes me by surprise. This is an action packed and yet thoughtful novel, with tender moments, tragic moments, laugh-out-loud moments (by the dozen), and even a few tearful moments. And Lady Sybil is just awesome. No two ways about it.
I always know a book is going to be a favorite if I walk away from it inspired about my own writing. Even if the stories I write are nothing like what I just read, a good book will feed my creative soul. Snuff did that for me. I really loved it! It is my Third Pick of 2012
I recommend it to fans of Sir Terry Pratchett. If you have not yet read any Terry Pratchett, I would recommend starting earlier in his series, however. Perhaps with Guards! Guards! which first introduces us to Sam Vimes. These books are adult, not YA, and though I don't recall anything inappropriate (Pratchett is not given to dirty writing), there is definitely some innuendo and more "mature" humor in places.
So there you go! Let me know your top picks of the year, and if you've listed them on your blog, send me a link! I'd love to see.
Happy end to 2012, dear readers!