These are the Best Books I Read in 2012 That Were Released in Previous Years. AKA: I'm a little slow. And busy. But mostly slow.
I counted Shatter Me and Ashfall in the Best Books of 2012 list because they were released very close to the end of 2011, and most people did not pick them up until sometime in 2012, as they were both debut authors and weren't riding a publicity high from a previous release. The books on today's list are just simply old news, but I didn't get around to them until these year for various reasons.
The Leviathan Series by David Scott Westerfeld
This is steampunk done right: A complete sci-fi reimagining of history. In this case, it's WWI, and we have a fictional heir to the Hapsberg empire. The world is split into Darwinists (people who manipulate living beasts for their use) and Machinists (people who rely on mechanical engineering) both are technologically fantastical, and the whole thing is magic.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver can rip your heart out and make you feel happy about it. My best good friend Kirsti says "This book is like Mean Girls and Groundhog Day had a baby. Except in a less creepy way than it sounds... " and that's pretty much the most perfect description of ever. I know most people wanted to throw the book at the wall when they reached the ending, but I didn't. I loved it. Especially considering the audience (YA) and the fact that they (teenagers) tend to project themselves into the characters they are reading about, I thought it was exactly the way the book should have ended. Somebody has to pick up the pieces, somebody has to learn from these lessons.
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
This is my favorite book by Moran.
This is the thickest book by Moran.
This is the second-lowest rated book by Moran (on Goodreads).
This book chronicles the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror (AKA - The downfall of Marie Antoinette), which is a well-documented and visited topic in pop culture. The fact that she can breathe new life into a subject that so many of us are so familiar with is a feat all on its own. Michelle Moran can almost do no wrong, but this is by far and away my favorite of hers. (She released a book in 2012, The Second Empress, which was good, but not good enough to rank as one of the best of the year, IMO)
World War Z by Max Brooks
I don't usually go for zombies. I don't usually go for things that will keep me awake at night, period. But this was done documentary-style, ten years after the humans finally won the war against the zombies. It's fascinating, and resembles absolutely nothing like what I expected from a zombie book. It addresses geopolitical issues, emergency preparedness, government recovery, and more. Much like Ashfall, it's one of those books that keeps you thinking for weeks after. It also made me more confident in my skills to survive such an event (my book club decided hubby and I together ranked as a Class C or better in the post-zombie system).