Thursday, December 13, 2012

Great YA Mysteries from 2012!

2012 . . . the year of the YA Mystery? Soooo many great ones came out this year! In looking over my reading list, I realized YA mysteries made up 75% of my reading material, closely followed by Middle Grade mysteries and YA thrillers.

As the year winds to a close, I thought I'd share some of my favorite YA mysteries from 2012. I read a LOT of great novels this year, but the titles on this list are ones that really resonated with me -- or haunted me.

A disclaimer: This is a completely unofficial list, based on no measurable criteria except pure gut feeling: I LOVED THESE BOOKS.

Another disclaimer: In my shout-outs below, I'm very reluctantly excluding books by my fellow sleuths on this blog, even though the debut titles I read were also amazing! (If you're new to our blog, books that debuted from our crew this year were PRETTY CROOKED by Elisa Ludwig, BLIND SPOT by Laura Ellen, MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT by W.H. Beck, DOUBLE VISION, by F.T. Bradley, and TOKYO HEIST, by yours truly. You can find out more about them on the "Our Books" tab at the top).

So here they are, in no particular order, my OTHER favorite YA mysteries (and one thriller) from 2012!

Best Literary YA Mystery: Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things, by Kathryn Burak (Roaring Brook/Macmillan). Absolutely gorgeous writing, and a unique mystery plot involving a dress once worn by Emily Dickinson. (We interviewed Kathryn Burak for the blog; you can find the interview here).

Best Paranormal YA Mystery: Perception, by Kim Harrington (Scholastic). I generally like my mystery straight-up, but this deft touch of the paranormal really worked for me. A psychic sleuth is on a missing person case. Book 2 in the Clarity mystery series. (You can find our interview with Kim Harrington here).

Best Setting in a YA Mystery: The Jade Notebook, by Laura Resau (Delacorte). This is the third in Resau's Notebook series. (The Indigo Notebook takes place in Ecuador; The Red Notebook goes to the South of France). This young sleuth, the daughter of a flighty ESL teacher, finds trouble in paradise in the beachside town of Mazunte, Mexico. The series is not normally classified as mystery, but it is! Mystery buffs, please check out these lush books by the talented Laura Resau!
Best Insanely Funny Mystery: Croak, by Gina Damico (Graphia/Houghton Mifflin). Grim reaper sleuths? Morbidly hilarious! This is a fantastic non-traditional mystery. (You can read our interview with Gina here).

Best Romantic YA Mystery: Burning Blue, by Paul Griffin (Dial/Penguin). Paul Griffin is a master of gritty, urban contemporary YA fiction, with a great ear for dialogue, a flair for romance, and a soul of a poet. This year he's turned his talent to mystery/suspense/romance. This is the story of a brilliant computer hacker who tries to find out who threw acid in the face of the most beautiful girl in his school . . . and who falls for her in the process. (You can read our interview with Paul Griffin here).
Best Page-Turning YA Thriller: Trafficked, by Kim Purcell (Viking/Penguin). While technically not a mystery (because it's not a traditional "whodunnit" or "whereisit"), this book does deal with crime, and it's thrilling, so I feel strongly compelled to list it here as it was one of my favorite reads of 2012. It's the story of a 17-year-old girl from Moldova who is brought to Los Angeles to work as a nanny, and becomes enslaved by an affluent family. A true page-turner and an important book. This stuff really happens, guys. Read it.

What about you? Have you read any of these titles? What YA mysteries (or thrillers) did you love in 2012?


Diana Renn grew up in Seattle and now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son. TOKYO HEIST (Viking/Penguin, published June 2012) is her first novel.


  1. Just when I thought I'd gotten my To-Read List down to a reasonable number, you go ahead and post this. (Thanks a lot, Diana ;) I definitely need to check out Trafficked and Emily's Dress. Heck, I need to check them ALL out.

  2. Yep, I'm here to instill end-of-year panic about books you didn't get to! You're welcome! :)


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