Talulla Demetriou (Talulla Rising, Glen Duncan)
We fell under Glen Duncan's spell in last year's deliciously violent, smart-as-hell The Last Werewolf, which left us with Talulla, grieving for her dearly departed Jake, living as the actual last werewolf in the world—until such time as she gives birth to her baby, of course. Warm caring mother and bloodthirsty man-killer all in one, our Talulla. She also kills vampires.
Julia Severn (The Vanishers, Heidi Julavits)
"The story I'm about to tell could be judged preposterous," Julia begins, "...this is not just a story about how you can become sick by knowing other people. This is a story about how other people can become sick by knowing you." Julia is a student at an elite grad program in "integrated parapsychology"—that is, she's a psychic, vying with her classmates for the attentions of their mentor Madame Ackermann. But things go awry, and awrier, and Ackermann winds up launching a full-scale attack on Julia's mind, which leads her stumbling away on a scrambled search for her mother, who killed herself when Julia was a baby. Thrilling and witty, we'd follow this psychic detective anywhere.
Bernadette Fox (and Bee Fox, too) (Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple)
This hilarious novel was one of the bright spots of our year, partly due to the charm of Semple's characters, their lives assembled for us through letters, emails, grade reports and ephemera. Bernadette is opinionated to a fault, she's the bane of the other snotty private school mothers, she's a MacArthur-certified genius—but she's also more than slightly agoraphobic, and more than slightly missing. You'll want to get her back, just so you can have more of her.
Myra (Maidenhead, Tamara Faith Berger)
This coming-of-age story follows the volatile sixteen-year-old Myra, standing on the edges of a family about to collapse, eager to lose her virginity to an older man she meets on the beach, eager for everything, every experience at once. Myra's confusion, her passion, her need for possession and to be possessed, make this novel an incredible read, finding its place, as Sheila Heti (who should know) wrote, "somewhere between the wilds of Judy Blume, Girls Gone Wild, and Michel Foucault."
Anya (How to Get Into the Twin Palms, Karolina Waclawiak)
Oh, how we loved Anya, her constant desire for reinvention, her casual creepiness, her dreams of acceptance in a culture twice-removed from her own, the ashy world she sees in between her dark blinks. We want to play bingo with her, and buy her new sheets.
Yael, Avishag, and Lea (The People of Forever are Not Afraid, Shani Boianjiu)
Yael, Avishag, and Lea are just like you and your high school friends -- bound by conflicting, overlapping loyalties, embroiled in years-old arguments, engaged in gossip and one-upping, a pack against the world. Except they're not just like you, because they're soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, with both their toughness and their vulnerability on brutal display at every moment. You will love them (even as you sometimes hate them) for it.