RT Editors' Best of 2013: Tricia's Picks

This blog post is part of a series that the RT Editors will be taking part in during the month of December. Please check back all month long for each editor's installment!

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With 2013 winding down, the RT editors thought December would be a good time to reflect on what each of us read this year and which books stuck with us long after we finished them. While this year's RT Awards winners won't be announced until our convention in May, we've decided to share our personal favorites of 2013, in no particular order. Today RT Associate Editor Tricia Carr shares her favorites of this past year:


 

Pawn
by Aimeé Carter

Disclaimer: I love YA dystopian fiction. Give me a pile of Hunger Games-esque teen thrillers and I’m happy. When I read the publisher’s summary of Pawn, which describes an America where citizens are categorized by a number at age 17 that dictates their quality of life, I knew I had to read it. The action picks up immediately as heroine Kitty is running from her fate as a III. From beginning to end, Carter is ruthless in her portrayal of the horrors of the government, the flaws of her characters and the almost impossible choices they must make. But she balances these eerie aspects by successfully creating a realistic, dystopian setting — that could have been completely outlandish if done wrong — and characters who are able to think for themselves despite being thrust into a rebellion. After the pivotal moment when Kitty wakes up Masked, or surgically transformed, as Lila Hart, the niece of America’s Prime Minister (who I picture as the President Snow in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games), I didn’t stop thinking about book every moment I wasn’t reading it. If after finishing Pawn you don't want to read the next book in the The Blackcoat Rebellion series, you're crazy! 

 

     
 

Omens
by Kelley Armstrong

Omens begins a story about Olivia Taylor Jones and her birth parents, convicted serial killers Pamela and Todd Larsen, during which we remain just as bewildered by her parents’ supposed innocence as Olivia. Through her heroine, Armstrong expertly takes readers through a mystery set in a creepy gothic town called Cainsville while supplement chapters hint at some sort of underground paranormal society that we’ll learn more about later in the series. Though the setting propels this book to another level, the characters are what make it truly riveting. Olivia is perfectly naive and readers feel each of her frustrations. I shouldn’t have, but I loved Gabriel Walsh, the brutally honest, selfish and super-hot lawyer. There are characters to fulfill some stereotypes, such as the traditional inhabitants of a small town, but Armstrong makes each of them integral to the story. While reading, I was simultaneously fighting off the chills and analyzing the latest clue in relation to the big picture. I can’t wait to do it all over again in the sequel, Visions, coming in August 2014.  

 

     
 

Death of a Nightingale 
by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis 

This novel is gripping, meaning I was gripping my Kindle till my knuckles turned white while reading. There are many great international thrillers out there, but what makes this one standout to me is its all-female cast. I think any woman will find someone in this book to whom they can relate and as a result, the story becomes more personal. Even translated, Kaaberbøl and Friis’ ability to weave multiple characters’ stories cannot be denied; as soon as I was absorbed in one woman’s story, the chapter would end and I would be back in another woman’s mind. This mystery never lets up, which is why it earned one of the few Top Pick Gold rankings RT’s reviewers gave out this year. 

 

     
 

Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

At the RT office, we have not stopped talking about Fangirl, and I know I’m not the only editor who considers this one of the best books of the year. Fangirl isn’t a mystery or thriller, which are the genres I usually gravitate toward, so I was a little shy to admit that I was so taken aback by this story. I read it so fast that the plot is blurry, but I can assure you that Cath the most genuine character I've read in a long time. Our heroine doesn’t miraculously breakout of her shell at college or spiral out of control only to thrive in the end like a lot of YA/NA heroines. The events in Fangirl are a bit more subdued, but Cath’s journey of self discovery ends up being more stunning than most other heroines’. There’s one more reason I will be a Rowell fan for life: Cath and her twin sister write fan fiction of Simon Snow, the book’s version of the Harry Potter franchise, and readers get excerpts of Cath’s Internet-famous fanfic. 

 

     
 

Broken
by CJ Lyons

I’ve said a lot about Broken recently, first when I gave the book a Top Pick rating, and then when the RT editors gave the book its Seal of Excellence award for November. Broken has stayed on my mind because it belongs to the two genres I love most: it’s part medical mystery, part YA drama. When I found out that Lyons diagnosed her own niece with Long QT, the genetic heart disease that her protagonist has, it made me respect the book even more — not just as an entertaining story for teens and adults, but as a conversation piece on teen bullying, the pediatric healthcare system and determination. 

 

Do you and Tricia share some favorite books of the year? Which reads did you love in 2013? Let us know in the comments, and check back all month long for more editors' picks!