The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Zafón demonstrated a mastery of the literary arts with this piece. Once I'd gotten through to the ending of the first chapter, I knew this was going to be a favorite, something I'd reread before next year. The plot ensnares you, and if it ever slows down, the character development alone is entertainment enough to coax you to continue digging.
The protagonist being a boy in the chaos of his teenage years, I found it quite relatable, though his maturity and insights are suspiciously heightened to that of a wizened old man. As he races around Barcelona in an attempt to unravel the mystery behind the last copy of a book he found in an old, cemetery of a library, he gets caught in his own curiosity, trapping him as a vulnerable role in a dangerous plot that had been unfolding since before he was born.
This book left a mark on me that will be difficult for time alone to erase. I believe that any good work of fiction changes us, even if it's so inscrutable that we don't notice it at first, or ever. When I closed this book, I was sad that it had ended so soon, but I left it satisfied with how it affected me. If there is anything this book taught me, it is that authors live only so long as the memories of their characters; in this way, Zafón will be alive for a very, very long time.
Part mystery, part romance and part coming-of-age-story, this novel is blended together perfectly in such a way as to create a genre of its own. With its uniqueness, this novel can satisfy a wide variety of readers.
In short, get a copy!