I don't know when these books were published, I only know that I read them in 2012 and each book, in its own way, took over my life for a little while (the way all good books should). Here's the list in no particular order with links so you can order them!
Dare Me- Megan Abbott
Cheerleading goes noir. A beautifully written novel. I'm always in awe of how Abbot gets into secret worlds, in this case it's the secret world of cheerleaders and teenage girls.
Volt- Alan Heathcock
For some reason, I didn't read many collections this year. I suppose it was because I was working on a novel, but this one by Heathcock reminded me why I love collections so much. This guy can write, and though the stories are typically dark and gritty, there is an underlying grace that I really admired. Well worth checking out.
The Next Time You See Me- Holly Goddard Jones
A gorgeous novel that switches viewpoints between characters that enthrall and disturb in equal measure. I loved the middle school angle (I teach middle school), and this novel solidifies HGJ's status as one of my favorite writers.
A Monster Calls- Patrick Ness
I'm a sucker for novels that blend reality and fantasy so smoothly. Also, I think Ness nailed the teenage angst and confusion when dealing with a sick parent. A fast, touching read. Really excellent art, too.
The Devil All the Time- Donald Ray Pollack
A dark, dark midwestern gothic about the wages of violence. Hell, I'd even classify it as straight up horror. This book isn't for everyone, but if you like McCarthy, Gay, Franklin, etc., you will devour this one.