Best Teen Books of 2012


Vicky Smith, Editor

When a significant part of your job is surrounding yourself with the best books of the year and picking the 100 top titles, you know you’ve got it good. Not easy, but good. I start to narrow my choices down right after Labor Day in a weekslong process that involved input from my corps of reviewers and lots of reading. (Oh, darn.)

The variety I found in sifting the year’s best books was heartening. I found nail-biting thrillers of both the post-apocalyptic and techno kinds, gritty tales of contemporary kids confronting big problems, soaring fantasies that immersed me in unforgettable worlds, sharply intelligent science fiction, provocative nonfiction, inventive and fresh paranormal adventures, transporting historical fiction and laugh-out-loud comedy. Some books that did not receive stars in the initial review process turned out to have a long-lasting impact, and I am pleased to include many of these on my final list. There’s more than just a little something for everyone here; explore and enjoy.

THE VOYEURS by Gabrielle Bell
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 4, 2012

"Playfully drawn and provocatively written, the memoir reinforces Bell's standing among the first rank of the genre's artists."
"Graphic memoir" only hints at the artistry of a complex, literary-minded author who resists the bare-all confessionalism so common to the genre and blurs the distinction between fiction and factual introspection. Read full book review >
LATE BOOMER by David Benson
THRILLERS

"A compelling police procedural with a contemporary setting and an intriguing heroine worthy of a series."
Benson's tightly plotted crime thriller is sure to please fans of police procedurals. Read full book review >

HISTORY
Released: Dec. 4, 2012

"A captivating tale of an oft-overlooked, morally ambiguous moment in American history."
An exploration of the violent downfall of Little Crow's Dakota nation at the hands of American soldiers. Read full book review >
OVER IN THE OCEAN by Marianne Berkes
IPAD BOOK APPS
Released: March 16, 2012

"With a format that includes science, math, art, music and reading, it still manages to be what learning should be—fun. (iPad informational app. 4-8)"
This beautifully illustrated counting and singalong app version of the 2004 book introduces young readers to the creatures of the coral reef. Read full book review >
BYE BYE BLACKBIRD by Eileen Berry
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

"An extraordinary, nuanced collection by a gifted poet."
Merging geographic precision with detailed lyricism, Berry's collection of poetry spans continents and states of the soul. Read full book review >

THE DEMON CATCHERS OF MILAN by Kat Beyer
Released: Aug. 28, 2012

"This one goes to the head of the class. (Fantasy. 12 & up)"
To the recent crop of strong debuts in an overcrowded literary arena add this series opener, a tale of demonic possession and a centuries-old family trade in exorcism. Read full book review >
Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham
Released: March 1, 2012

"Just label it F for funny. (Picture book. 4-6)"
A wry twist on an alphabet story makes for laugh-out-loud fun. Read full book review >
CONFESSIONS OF A TRANSSEXUAL PHYSICIAN by Jessica Angelina Birch
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 16, 2012

"An honest, heartfelt memoir about coming out and transitioning. "
Birch's candid new memoir recalls her punishing adolescent boyhood and the difficult pursuit of self-realization. Read full book review >