Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
I was all set to give this sci-fi comedy up in the first ten pages, but to my complete surprise it was not only entertaining, but also really really great, with a totally kick-butt main character who reminds me of Agent 99 more than quite possibly any other YA character I've come across. I'm hoping this one -- set to be the first in a series -- gets the sequel it so much deserves.
I so wasn't expecting this cliche teen romance to have such fully realized characters or be as emotionally complex as it was. Totally one of the stand-outs of 2012's contemporary YA.
Pub date: Feb 2013
I managed to get an ARC of this 2013 release at ALA and wow did it blow me away! While I liked Sepetys' first book (Between Shades of Grey) and objectively realized how brilliant and beautiful it was, my personal connection to it wasn't as strong as many others' were. So I expected Out of the Easy to be along those same lines: objectively great, but maybe not my favorite. However, this one hit me just right and became the rare historical fiction that I totally, totally fall for.
To be perfectly honest I'd read and liked Kieryn Nicolas' debut novel (Rain), but dystopian novels like Flawless Ruins are hard to get right; I think they come with a different set of obstacles than most other novels, and I didn't think Nicolas could pull it off. But this book was a lot, lot better than I was expecting it to be.
What books surprised you this year -- whether positively or negatively?