Best YA Speculative Fiction
No plot summary for fear of spoiling the first two, but Hill's vampire story, following the descendants of characters from Dracula, continues to be superb - and with Gallagher Girls, Wereworld and GONE all finishing this year, this is almost certainly my favourite ongoing series, having been neck and neck with those three for the last two years. I'm hugely excited about the release of book 4 in 2014! Hill writes epic tales with extremely strong characters and great twists and turns in the plot. This is a series everyone should be reading.
Again, I can't plot summarize - apart from anything else there's so many deaths in the first five that even naming characters still left alive is probably a spoiler for the earlier ones! This has been an incredibly strong series - at least for people who have stomachs strong enough to cope with it. An excellent cast of characters and a stunning conclusion which gives a satisfying ending to some wonderful character arcs make this one to savour.
Oh, look, you can forget about plot summaries, alright? This is the first in the series - it will be followed very soon by Shadowplay (spoiler: I've read it and it's also great!) but I'm avoiding saying too much due to the big twist. That's possibly me being overcautious - the 'twist' actually gets revealed relatively early on, I spotted it even sooner, and Laura herself is hardly particularly secretive about it - but I'd rather do that than give too much away. I can probably say that this is a truly unique fantasy in the sense that it deals brilliantly with gender issues in a way extremely few books manage, while it also has a compelling plot and great characters.
EDIT: Shadowplay is apparently already out and I'm getting my release dates confused!
All Meg wanted to do was go out and create a real work of graffiti art. Then she sees a dying fox transform into a man, and pass onto her a mysterious gem, and all of a sudden she's inherited a whole new world of problems. Skulk sees its heroine plunged into a secret London, where raggedy groups of people transform into animals. The shapechangers have never got on with each other, but with a mysterious stranger trying to claim the strange gemstone Meg's forced to try to unite this ragtag bunch.
So thrilled to have got to one I can do a plot summary for! I love the way that Meg's character arc here ties in so brilliantly to her problems with her family, and this has superb world-building and strong character. I can't wait for book 2!
ANOTHER six-book series comes to an end with a stunning conclusion here. Jobling's character development has always been exceptional and that's still the case. Plus, there's just one or two loose ends left - surely we can get a couple more books out of this? Please?
Best MC (Male)
Archie, along with his interior and exterior monologues, is even more hilarious here than he is in the first in this series. Who could fail to love a hero who does Live Action Role-Playing?
This seemed to be a really strong year for main characters in books for slightly younger readers, and Dakkar is one of my very favourites. Setting out to rescue his mentor after a kidnapping, he's forced to use his wits and I love his relationship with the girl he meets here.
Jobling has created a huge amount of compelling characters in this series. I find that in some cases, that means the lead can actually get overshadowed - but Drew, heir to the throne and trying to bring peace to the kingdom of Lyssia, is so fantastically well-portrayed that this is never a concern here. A leader, a fighter, a loyal friend and a lover, Drew is amazing.
I read both of the 'Gift' books this year and am on tenterhooks waiting for book 3. Teenage Ross, trying to control his powers but struggling with his anger towards the villains and his frustration with his allies is a stunning lead.
Another fantastic MG main character, Julian 'Twerp' Twerski - writing the story of getting suspended from school in 1960's New York while trying to avoid telling his English teacher what REALLY happened - has a stunning voice. So good, I read this twice in a matter of days.