Friday, 8 February 2013

Best YA Mysteries of 2012


What was the best YA mystery novel of 2012? According to the Mystery Writers of America, it’s one of the following:

  • Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak: A dual mystery that centres on the disappearance of Emily Dickinson’s dress from a museum in Amherst and the disappearance of the main character’s best friend.

  • The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George: Apparently the first in a new series of books, The Edge of Nowhere tells of Becca, a girl with the ability to read minds, who is on the run from her criminal step-father.

  • Crusher by Niall Leonard: Finn, the prime suspect in his father’s murder, must scour London’s underworld for his killer in order to clear his name.

  • Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield: Set in a small New England town, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone tells the parallel stories of murder victim Amelia in the days before her death and college-bound Becca, who is trying to make sense of the murder.

  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: A WW2 historical thriller about Verity, a young British spy captured in Nazi-occupied France.
These are the nominations for this year’s Edgar Allan Poe (Edgar) award for Best Young Adult novel.
This list comes as both a surprise and a slight disappointment to me. At the time of writing, I haven’t read any of these books, and prior to the Edgar announcement, I had only even heard of three of them (The Edge of Nowhere, Crusher, and Code Name Verity), the other two not having been published in Australia yet (the descriptions above are all based on descriptions supplied by the books’ publishers). Three of these books are by first time novelists (Emily’s Dress…, Crusher, and Amelia Anne…), Code Name Verity is by a writer whose first five books are YA fantasy, and The Edge of Nowhere is the first YA novel by an adult crime writer. It seems surprising that none of the books are by writers who’ve had more experience in writing YA mysteries.
My disappointment isn’t so much that these books were selected (as I said, I haven’t read them and for all I know, they could be the five best books ever written), but that some of the other books that were also eligible for selection weren’t. One of my favourite books of the last year was Slide by Jill Hathaway, another first-time novelist. Like The Edge of Nowhere, Slide is a mystery about a girl with an unusual power, the ability to “slide” into someone else’s body and see through their eyes, and contains some wonderful characters whom I really enjoyed “hanging out with” for the few days it took me to finish the book. Two of my favourite authors, Libba Bray and Harlan Coben, also released YA mysteries this year (The Diviners and Seconds Away). I had been hoping that all three of these books would make the list. Nevertheless, if the books that were nominated are even better than the ones I enjoyed, then the nominated books must be pretty incredible.
In the lead up to the Edgar winner announcement on 2nd May 2013, I will be reading and reviewing all of these books and giving by views on which should/is most likely to win the award, but I’m also interested to hear what you think. Which of these books have you read? What did you think of them? What was your favourite book of 2012? Please let me know below.

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