As part of Hollywood Crush's Best YA Novel of 2012 poll, we've enlisted a handful of our favorite teen lit writers to weigh in on the tomes that touched them this year. Our final essay comes from Dan Wells, author of "Partials" and the forthcoming "Fragments," out February 2013.
My favorite YA book of the year was "Insignia" by S.J. Kincaid, a kind of science fiction Harry Potter about a group of kids training to fight in World War III. The war is fought with drones, manipulated remotely through virtual reality, which essentially means that the war is being fought with video games, and the best warriors are the best gamers. To make the kids even better players the government puts computers in their brains, and that's when the science fiction kicks into overdrive and the virtual world starts blending with the real one. The teens learn how to program their brains, first just playing simple tricks on each other, but soon starting to suspect that other people—gangs, governments and multinational corporations—are secretly altering their thoughts, their personalities and even the way they perceive the world. It's cyberpunk at its best, twisting the world we know and the ways we communicate in exciting and terrifying new directions. I loved every page, and I can't wait for the sequel.