Best of 2012: Teen

Updated: January 26, 2019

The best children's books of the year, as selected by LAPL librarians. Perfect for holiday gift-giving! More books for young adults are at LAPL Teen Web.

Book cover for Ashen winter
Ashen winter
Mullin, Mike.
Call Number: YA

In this sequel to Ashfall, society breaks down even further following the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Bandits roam small towns in Illinois, attacking the farmhouse where Alex and Darla have been staying, until they decide they have to go back to Iowa to find Alex's parents. They are in worse danger once they fall into the hands of other racketeers and raiders and a government-sponsored refugee camp. Danger, adventure, and suspense lurk on every page.

Book cover for Ask the passengers : a novel
Ask the passengers : a novel
King, A. S. (Amy Sarig), 1970-
Call Number: YA

Astrid Jones sends her love to planes flying overhead because she’s not sure what else to do with it. She feels boxed in by her friends, rejected by her family, and pressured by her sort-of girlfriend, but Astrid is more interested in asking questions than giving herself a label - and that’s where Socrates comes in.

Book cover for Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
Call Number: YA

What if Cinderella was a cyborg? Debut author Marissa Meyer answers this question with the first book in a new series set in a plague-ridden dystopian future where the Earth is on the brink of war with the moon, and everything may hinge on the identity of a young cyborg mechanic.

Book cover for Code name Verity
Code name Verity
Wein, Elizabeth.
Call Number: YA

After two British girls, a pilot and a spy, crash their plane in Nazi-occupied France, the spy is captured and imprisoned by the Germans. She is forced to give up her secrets and reveal her mission in writing. Instead, she tells the story of her friend Maddie, the pilot of the crashed plane, whom she assumes is dead. But nothing can be assumed in this story, and nothing is as it seems.

Book cover for Days of blood and starlight
Days of blood and starlight
Taylor, Laini.
Call Number: YA

Now that Karou knows the truth, where do her loyalties lie? Who is committing the mysterious burglaries all over the world and what do they mean? Can love still be found in the ashes of war? This sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a haunting fairy tale, ambitiously told.

Book cover for A devil and her love song
A devil and her love song
Tōmori, Miyoshi.
Call Number: 740.9999 D4945-1

New transfer student Maria Kawai is gorgeous and brilliant, but her brutal honesty quickly earns her a reputation as the devil incarnate! Was her sharp tongue the reason she was kicked out of her elite high school or is it just a shield to hide a deeper secret? A fascinating and complex look at bullying, peer pressure, forgiveness, and redemption.

Book cover for The diviners
The diviners
Bray, Libba.
Call Number: YA

When Evie O’Neill's parents send her to live with her Uncle Will in New York City, she couldn’t be more thrilled. New York City is the place to be, full of the most fashionable flappers, speakeasies, and Ziegfeld girls, and Evie will fit right in. But Evie also has a secret - she's a Diviner, and she is about to discover that she is not the only one. After a series of murders that seem to be based on the occult, Uncle Will and Evie find themselves right in the middle of the investigation.

Book cover for Dodger.
Pratchett, Terry.
Call Number: YA

This retelling of Oliver Twist has all the witticism and complex character development consistently found in Pratchett’s work. Throughout young Dodger’s adventures, we meet a cast of historical figures including Charlie Dickens and Sweeney Todd and learn the ways of the worlds Dodger navigates, from the sewer to the aristocracy. When an act of kindness leads him into greater intrigue, Dodger continues to be ahead of the pack. Following in the footsteps of Nation (a Michael L. Printz Honor Book in 2009), Pratchett’s quality does not wane.

Book cover for Drama
Telgemeier, Raina
Call Number: 740.9999 T271

Middle-schooler Callie juggles drama both on and off stage in this winning and fun title about friendship, crushes, musical theater, and finding oneself, by the same author of the popular and award-winning Smile.

Book cover for The drowned cities
The drowned cities
Bacigalupi, Paolo.
Call Number: YA

Mahlia and Mouse are young refugees, and Tool is a human-animal hybrid “half-man” bred solely for destruction; each seeks safety away from the Drowned Cities, once the Gulf Coast of what used to be the United States. It is now a vast swampland overrun by gators, vicious coyote-wolf hybrids, and militias made up of child soldiers fighting for control of a lawless and perilous land. Bleak and violent, but honest about the vague and conflicting realities of war, with well-developed, believable characters and page-turning action.

Book cover for Every day
Every day
Levithan, David.
Call Number: YA

Every morning, A wakes up in a different body. After 16 years of this life, A has developed a philosophy of “do no harm,” attempting to interfere with the life of each day’s host as little as possible so that person can go on with his or her life the next day when A is gone. That’s working well until A falls in love with Rihanna, and begins trying to be with her as much as possible. Not easy, when you might wake up three or four hours away, and today’s “you” might not have a car. Or might not get along with her parents. Or might have a drug problem. A moving mix of science fiction and romance with an ending that is both optimistic and bittersweet.

Book cover for The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
Call Number: YA

When Hazel goes to her weekly cancer support group in the heart of Jesus (literally), she does not expect to meet a strange and attractive boy. She and Augustus very quickly find kindred spirits in each other, but as they get closer, Hazel begins to fight her emotions because she worries about hurting Gus when she dies. Soon though, they both learn that ignoring a feeling doesn't make it go away and that the collateral damage of life cannot be avoided, and might even be something to cherish. Told with John Green's ever-present wit and intelligence, The Fault in Our Stars will make you love Hazel and Gus with laughter through tears (but there will be tears, so keep some Kleenex handy).

Book cover for Froi of the exiles
Froi of the exiles
Marchetta, Melina, 1965-
Call Number: YA

In the second book of the Lumatere Chronicles, Froi journeys to the kingdom of Charyn on a secret mission to assassinate its king. There he discovers a kingdom beset by yet another curse and Quintana, the half-mad princess said to be the key to Charyn’s salvation. As Froi finds himself drawing closer and closer to Quintana, his task proves to be more complex than originally thought. Instead, he works to unravel the dark mystery surrounding the Charyn court that may also lead him to answers about his own origins. An intense and compelling sequel to Finnikin of the Rock.

Book cover for A game for swallows : to die, to leave, to return
A game for swallows : to die, to leave, to return
Abirached, Zeina, 1981-
Call Number: 740.9999 A149

Autobiographical tale of how locals in an apartment building come together to look after young Zeina and her brother during one of many tense evenings in war-torn Lebanon in the 1980s. The starkly beautiful black and white drawings that accompany the story bring gentleness, humor, and hope to this dark chapter in history.

Book cover for If I lie
If I lie
Jackson, Corrine.
Call Number: YA

Quinn has kissed a boy who is not her boyfriend. The boyfriend is serving in Afghanistan and beloved by her small town, so she is not only shunned by her friends, but vilified by the community and her father. Quinn could explain why she cheated, but it would mean revealing a secret she promised to keep.

Book cover for Never fall down : a boy soldier's story of survival
Never fall down : a boy soldier's story of survival
McCormick, Patricia, 1956-
Call Number: YA

The haunting tale of Arn, who finds out how far he will have to go to survive the takeover of his village by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s. Death is a constant companion and he wonders why he is spared and if he can keep his humanity in the midst of such confusion and turmoil.

Book cover for The raven boys
The raven boys
Stiefvater, Maggie, 1981-
Call Number: YA

Non-clairvoyant Blue Sargeant has always been told by her fortune-telling family that she will cause her true love to die. Thus far, she has avoided falling in love, but this year, during her family’s vigil of the soon-to-be-dead, Blue has a vision of a boy named Gansey. Will she join Gansey on his mystical quest? Will she be able to protect her heart?

Book cover for See you at Harry's
See you at Harry's
Knowles, Johanna, 1970-
Call Number: YA

Twelve-year-old Fern feels lost in her hectic family. Her parents are always busy with their diner, her sister is adrift and aimless after graduating high school, her older brother is gay and trying to keep it a secret, and then there’s Charlie, her always-underfoot little brother. When tragedy strikes, Fern’s family must pull together in this simple, sweet, and sad book for younger teen readers.

Book cover for Seraphina: A Novel
Seraphina: A Novel
Hartman, Rachel
Call Number: YA

Dragons and humans have drawn up a tenuous treaty that allows for peace in the kingdom of Goredd. Musician Seraphina Dombegh just joined the kingdom’s court when a member of the royal family is murdered. Serephina gets drawn into the investigation with the extremely intelligent Prince Lucian Kiggs, but as they get closer to the truth, the secret to Seraphina’s talent is in danger of being revealed.

Book cover for Starters
Price, Lissa.
Call Number: YA

Would you allow someone to rent your body so that they could go windsurfing, snowboarding, partying - whatever they want? While they have control of your body, your own identity will be in a coma of sorts... and did I mention that there's no parent or guardian to provide for you, and you have to take care of yourself and your younger brother? So, are you willing to take a chance?

Book cover for Such wicked intent
Such wicked intent
Oppel, Kenneth, 1967-
Call Number: YA

Driven to do the unthinkable by the tragic death of his brother, Victor Frankenstein vows to bring him back with the help of a book of alchemy filled with dark magical spells. The sequel to This Dark Endeavor.

Book cover for Ten
McNeil, Gretchen.
Call Number: YA

Ten teens go to Henry Island for a weekend-long house party - but then someone starts killing them off one by one. An atmospheric, creepy, campy riff on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.