It seem’s like EVERYONE’s doing best of 2008 lists. Rolling Stone, though that’s expected yearly, which was also the case with Spin (even if the Jonas Brothers appeared on both lists – what gives, music critics?) Multitudes of the manga sites I stalk… er, frequent… listed their Top 10′s, 20′s, etcetera. Even this very site followed the trend with Joseph Wilk’s Best Albums post (which, he’s admitted, wasn’t based on his own opinion, but plenty of fine albums made their way onto the list.)
So without further ado, here, have a teen perspective on the Best Of 2008 in music, manga, fiction, and other library-related categories. No, no, no, don’t thank me. (Insert dismissive hand-wave here.)
Best Novel: Hands down, this one’s going to John Green’s Paper Towns. Sure, there were tons of books I adored this year, but this came out on top due to the intriguing plot, true-to-life characters, and quirky sense of humor. It takes a good writer to make you freak out over the simple phrase “You will go to the paper towns and you will never come back” – John Green is that writer.
Worst Teen-Lit Trend: The angsty teenager is a trope we all recognize in today’s YA lit. But now authors have got it into their heads that angst can’t REALLY be ‘good’ angst without a narrator who dresses in black-and-hot-pink Hot Topic ensembles, thinks My Chemical Romance is the goth-est thing EVAR (yes, ‘evar’, not ‘ever’!) and shows no difference whatsoever from the ‘preps’ she claims to hate other than a significant lack of Aeropostale clothing. We get enough characters like this in terrible Harry Potter fanfiction, and now they’ve crawled into the literature market as well. What’s the world coming to?
Best Manga That You Probably Need a Double Set Of X Chromosomes To Appreciate: You might recognize Ai Moringawa’s name from her (slightly Ouran-like) semi-sports comedy My Heavenly Hockey Club, which is entertaining in its own way. But if you’re a skeptic shojo fan who’s okay with slightly un-PC jokes and would like to see all the cliches of the high school genderswap turned on their head, her more recently published series Your and My Secret is freakin’ hilarious. Except for maybe the grandfather, but I’ll take any parody-ish shojo I can get, and that’s exactly what Y.a.M.S (cool acronym, huh?) delivers.
Best Continuing Manga: Okay, okay, I’m a little biased because this is probably one of my favorite series, but I’m going to have to go with Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s more than just a typical shonen manga – it’s got a lot of heart (almost too much, sniffle sniffle) to go with its action, and recent plot twists are just getting crazier and crazier. Spoiler: THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS A GIANT TRANSMUTATION CIRCLE. (Sorry. Just had to get that out of my system.) If your library doesn’t have this (up to volume 17 available in the US, don’t read online scans or I’ll throw a wrench at you) then you should order it immediately.
Saddest Magazine Event: It’s a tie between the double demise of ’08 (NewType, then PiQ) and the fact that OtakuUSA no longer contains a DVD. Actually, maybe that’s a good thing. One of the DVDs I got had an episode of Aquarion… I think I’m scarred for life. Ladies and gents, this is NOT one to show at your anime club.
Best Single: It was released in 2006-ish, true, but M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” rode the success of Pineapple Express right onto your radio. For a few short months, you could hear a freakin’ global revolution, right in your own car.
Best Album of 2008: All “you know how I know you’re gay” jokes aside, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends was a definite tour-de-force. When the first single hit airwaves this summer, everyone knew it was going to be a great album. They weren’t wrong, either. (I’d also like to mention Fall Out Boy here as an honorable mention- “What A Catch, Donnie” from their new CD Folie A Deux is pretty darn powerful. Say what you want about emo- the song’s got Elvis Costello!)
Biggest Musical Letdown of 2008: “Hey, remember last spring when that British chick Estelle released that one awesome single? What was it called again? Wasn’t Kanye West the guest rapper?” Yes, it was called “American Boy”, and again yes. The fact that this song didn’t get further recognition hurts a lot – it was one of the catchiest pop tunes of the year, and anyone who says otherwise can go listen to Natasha Bedingfield or something.
Biggest “*^&%^$%^##!” moment: Tha Carter III. ‘Nuff said.
What You Should Not Put In Your Book-Jacket Summary Ever: The phrase “rhino heist.”
Author of 2008: Love her or hate her (I’ll go with the latter), Stephanie Meyers ruled both the best-seller list with Breaking Dawn (and, on a smaller scale, The Host) and the box office with Twilight. Power like that is an admirable thing.
Best Movie: I can’t help it – I’ve got a soft spot for robots in love. So of course Pixar’s Wall-E snagged this category. The tale of little trash-compactor Wall-E and his friend/crush/girlfriend/scanner/iPod-lookalike EVE does something most animated movies can’t: it manages to surprise you. Eat your heart out, Quantum of Solace!