Nearly everyone does a best of the year list. Not to be left out, I’d like to contribute to the plethora of lists already out there. Here are my favorite novels of 2012, in no particular order:
1) “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
This book was my favorite book of 2012. “Mr. Penumbra’s” was clever, insightful, and funny. It is a love letter to both new technologies, with shout-outs to Google and Apple, as well as older technologies such as books and the printing press.
The story begins with Clay, an out of work web designer. He ends up taking a job at a small independent bookstore. The store contains some strange books and Clay is told not to open them. Customers come to the store not to purchase anything, but instead check out these unique titles. Clay quickly catches on that not everything is as it seems at Mr. Penumbra’s store. Can’t say enough about how much I loved this book!
2) “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller
The debut novel by Heller reminded me of “The Road”, by Cormac McCarthy. Something horrible has happened, lots of people have died from a disease, and everyone is left to fend for themselves. The main character, Hig, is an outdoorsy guy. It's no surprise he's survived the chaos. He can hunt, fish, grow food, and fly a plane. He was a recreational pilot, and this skill comes in handy. Hig has teamed up with Bangley, a survivalist who seems to almost enjoy the world in a state of chaos. And of course, there's Jasper, Hig's canine companion. If you enjoy post apocalyptic stories, you'll enjoy The Dog Stars.
3) “Broken Harbor” by Tana French
Tana French is one of those author's that sucks you in from page one. She's a talented storyteller. Her stories are suspenseful, surprising, and often contain very unique (strange, magical, unexplainable) situations. This novel, her fourth, follows this formula and keeps you guessing all the way through.
Her characters are flawed people, but still likeable. Each of her four novels is told by a different member of the Murder Squad. Detective Kennedy, the first-person storyteller in "Broken Harbor", plays by the rules. He isn't my favorite of French's characters, but he fits really well into the context of the story. I have really enjoyed all of French's novels, and "Broken Harbor" is a must read for fans of this genre.
4) “Shadow of Night” by Deborah Harkness
“Shadow” is the sequel to “A Discovery of Witches.” There is a new cast of characters, many of which are real historical figures. Characters from “Discovery” pop up here and there, but not very often. Still I really liked this book. The pacing was good (except for a small portion which I found a little slow as I did with “Discovery”).
These books remind me of “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova, a more serious and well-researched supernatural story. While the story is interesting and engaging, it definitely is the middle book of a trilogy. There isn't a whole lot of action, but I loved reading about the time period, as well as the love story. I can't wait for the conclusion!
5) “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey
Both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, “The Snow Child” takes place in Alaska during the 1920s. A couple is trying to make a life on the homestead, but things are very difficult for them. One night there is a snow storm, and the couple makes a snowman. The next morning, something strange and mysterious happens.
This novel is a great book to curl up with during the cold Wisconsin winter months. Be warned, keep tissues handy.
Stop by the Whitefish Bay Library for these and other great reads!
What were your favorite books of 2012?