|Best Book for a Grey Day
I started this novel without knowing anything about it except that it has been extremely popular and after finishing it, realized it's for good reason. The plot really is lovely enough on its own - the ageless story about a boy and a girl and all of the obstacles that stand between them. But even more wonderful? The setting that the author uses to establish the backdrop of her story. If you are looking for a feast for the imagination and the most colourful and motile landscape you've experienced in a long while, I challenge you to find a better book than The Night Circus. It's no surprise that this book is already in development for a movie and I highly encourage you to read it soon so that you can conjure up all the images in your head before some director spoils the fun for you.
|Best Female Protagonist
Before you all start throwing out names like Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger and Lisbeth Salander, I want to tell you all that Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park in London surrounded by dead bodies, no clue who she is and why supernatural agents are trying to kill her. Not hardcore enough? She not only has to avoid and evade the assassins but also learn how to navigate the complex and secretive life of the person who inhabited her body prior to her own consciousness. This is a debut novel by Daniel O'Malley and if you like strong, logical-minded female characters and a twist of the unexpected, you'll enjoy The Rook and getting to know Myfanwy.
|Best Technological Thriller
I thought this book was going to be a lot like Ready Player One, which I really enjoyed in 2011. That was an excellent book with a unique premise and this book starts out much in the same way. Story line: wealthy nerd makes a ton of money creating a computer simulated world. But that's where the similarities end. Whereas Ready Player One mainly takes place in the simulation world and with avatars, Reamde takes place with real people in Canada and China. The book looks daunting but reads quickly and like an action movie. Its premise is smart and characters are sharp and resourceful. This one would also be a great one for a long plane ride, whisking you away for a wild ride while you're physically whisked away yourself.
|Best Male Protagonist
Marc Rochat is by far my favourite book character in 2012. The Watchers is set in Switzerland and Marc Rochat is the brain-injured, strange man who guards the bells of the Lausanne Cathedral. The characters become intertwined as more and more people are found gruesomely dismembered throughout Lausanne and drawn closer and closer to the cathedral. Jon Steele was a news cameraman and The Watchers is his first novel and the first in a series. I can't wait for the other books and I hope that Steele's other characters make me feel as much for them as I felt for Marc. Maybe it's because Marc's innocence and kindness provide such a counterpoint to the evil in Steele's world as well as our very own but it makes me hope for the goodness in people and pray that there are real people like Marc out there.
|Best YA Novel
I've blogged about Dodger before here and want to just reiterate that this is one of my faves this year and not just because it's set in London. I like the street savvy of Dodger and Terry Pratchett pulling in Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd to help push the plot along - plus the kids needs a little historical curiosity every now and then! There is a snippet of a love story but not Twilight-style and kids of all ages should be able to enjoy Dodger's rags to riches tale.
|Best Collection of Short Stories
This is another one that I've blogged about before and one that I find myself recommending over and over again to friends, especially those with a slight scientific leaning. I can't say enough about Alan Lightman's ability to place the reader in a place, time(s) and character in the least amount of words possible. When I get a chance, I really need to go back and study this book again, for technique's sake. If Sheldon Cooper read fiction, I believe this one would be one of his faves.