The Best Fiction of 212

6. The Newlyweds
by Nell Freudenberger
In Freudenberger's dual-continent portrait of an unlikely cross-cultural relationship, a young Bangladeshi woman heads for Rochester, N.Y., to marry some American dude she met online, then returns — forever changed — to help her parents emigrate. It's a remarkable look at love, family, and how the worlds we come from both do and don't define us.

7. The Fault in our Stars
by John Green
Okay, this is a YA novel about a 16-year-old girl who falls in love while coping with terminal cancer. I get it: You'd rather rub onions in your eyes. But as gut-rippingly sad as Stars is, it's also a total joy: smart, clever, and wise.

8. Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
Nick Dunne's wife disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary, and though at first he seems like the ideal husband, things start to...well, the less you know going into this twisty (and twisted) mystery, the better. Flynn — whom, full disclosure, I worked with when she was a writer at EW — pulls you right into her wickedly entertaining tale, and as she builds toward the book's divisive (but perfect) ending, she works in some real insight about human relationships.

9. Building Stories
by Chris War
Ware's deconstructed graphic novel is housed in a hefty cardboard box that looks like a Monopoly set and contains 14 gorgeously rendered individual parts. No matter what order you read the pieces in, you'll find yourself deep inside the lives of lonely people residing on top of one another in a Chicago apartment house. It's both a remarkable physical object and a moving exploration of how the spaces we live in affect us.

10. This is How You Lose Her
by Junot Díaz
Infidelity and failed romance are at the core of this series of flawless short stories, which train Díaz's sharp pen on his flawed protagonist's wandering eye. The linked stories mostly trace the bumpy love life of Yunior, who narrated Díaz's previous book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. This Is How You Lose Heris a more modest undertaking than that weighty examination of Dominican expat life, but the writing is every bit as vivid, and Yunior is so charismatic you can't help rooting for him even as he continually blows it.

Trend We'd Trend We'd Like to Squash: "Cookbooks" like The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. Stewed goat, anyone?
Best Homicidal Cheerleader Novel: Megan Abbott's Dare Me
Least Erotic Catchphrase in an Erotic Book: "Holy crap!" (uttered constantly in Fifty Shades of Grey) The Year's Best Blurb: "The sad thing is, I like it!" — Maurice Sendak on Stephen Colbert's I Am a Pole Books We Least Want to Be Seen Carrying in Public: Vagina, by Naomi Wolf, and Assholes, by Aaron James
Originally posted Dec 21, 2012 Published in issue #1239-1240 Dec 28, 2012 Order article reprints

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