Hello, and welcome to the end of 2016!
This year, while it hasn’t been pleasant for any of us (be real), it has been pretty excellent for reading. Whether they’re published in 2016 or earlier, all these books, including many others, will hold a special place in my heart.
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I adore Jandy Nelson’s writing, and after reading I’ll Give You The Sun back in ’15, I don’t know why I didn’t pick up her debut novel earlier. I grabbed it right before I flew to Spain for a week climbing/walking, and I read the majority of it on the side of a mountain against a rock that blocked me from the southern Spanish sun.
I read a lot of contemporaries to try and find what Jandy Nelson does, but I’m often left with lack luster plots and carbon copy characters. I just crave more of what I’ve read because these two books are the only ones she’s ever released, and it saddens me. But hey, quantity over quality, right?
The Sky Is Everywhere tells the story of Lennie Walker, a teen who recently lost her sister and is going through the grieving process along with her grandmother and her sister’s boyfriend. It is heart-wrenching, hilarious, and very real. I love how Jandy Nelson can write sibling relationships so beautifully, and it’s a real hooker of a premise. My review is here.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
I have literally not shut up about this book since I read it back in April. It seems March – June were the months for good contemporaries. This is Alice Oseman’s second novel, and her debut novel, Solitaire, is excellent, but I related to it too much and it creeped me out, so I only gave it four stars (is that bad?).
Radio Silence is about Frances Janvier, a study machine, who wants nothing more to succeed in her education. But, the British school system likes to squash personality, and Frances is feeling it, until she meets Aled, a boy in the year above, who is a little similar to Frances than she first thought.
I wrote a huge review of Radio Silence because I could do nothing but gush. I’m 23, and I’ve never read a book about the ridiculousness of the British school system specifically. It affected me so much (obviously), but I never realised how screwy it can get until my brother, a kid who wasn’t so sure what he wanted to do, went through his GCSE’s. Radio Silence, though more about A-Levels and university, really spoke like a person who truly understood what it felt like to be tormented by school and make you think like it’s the most important thing in your life.
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Is this really bad timing? Probably, but I cannot change the past.
Nevernight was the first ARC I ever had accepted from Netgalley and I was very excited to read it. Despite hearing absolutely nothing about it, I’d seen the cover, saw who wrote it, and knew immediately that I was reading a future bestseller. Plus, it had a pretty cover.
I spent the majority of a 12 hour journey from my house to Bavaria (we went by car I KNOW) reading Nevernight on an e-reader, which was a bit of a struggle. I couldn’t decipher the footnotes and ended up skipping them, despite having inside them rich back stories and histories. I ended up loving everything about it; the plot, the characters, and found myself reading on the balcony of the AirBnB while the rain let loose on the Bavarian mountains. It’s undoubtedly adult, despite being YA, and I talked about that more in my review here.
However, in recent weeks, there has been controversy over the problematic content of Nevernight. I will not blindly defend the book nor Jay Kristoff, but I will say that you can still enjoy a book while acknowledging it’s problems and be a part of the community that asks for better in the future. I made a whole post about it all, which you can view here.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
So I read TSOA right at the beginning of the year, maybe even the first book I read this year? It was a library book and me desperate to read something with LGBT representation. I rarely read historical fiction, so I was apprehensive about what was going to happen.
But what actually happened was me finding one of my best reads of 2016.
TSOA is the story of Patroclus, an often forgotten voice in The Iliad, who meets Achilles, a demi-god destined to save Ancient Greece, as a child and depicts their relationship right up until adulthood and the tragic Trojan war. It was honestly a history lesson for me, which is such a stupid thing because I’m so ignorant about history. It’s so true that you have a larger appreciation for history when you’re older, well, in my case anyway. And, while this story was so, so sad, it has stuck with me even now 12 months later. My review is here.
Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
This would come to no surprise if you read my blog regularly.
I read Vicious a while ago and gave it four stars, but nothing left an imprint of V.E Schwab’s work more than A Darker Shade of Magic, which I read in January of this year, and it’s sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, which was released in February. Oh, didn’t I time that correctly.
Shades of Magic is the story of Kell, a rare kind of magician that can travel between universes, all connected by the city of London. After smuggling something he was not supposed to, Kell bumps into Lila Bard, a theif who longs for the adventure that Kell’s world can offer. But now, dangerous magic has been unleashed, and it threatens every single universe as they know it.
V.E Schwab is now one of my favourite writers. Not only have I met her numerous times and she’s just an all round lovely person, her writing is beautiful, thrilling, and encapsulating. You can very easily not put these books down if you so wished and just read until the very end. I love all the characters, but especially Rhy Maresh, the prince of Red London and Kell’s brother. But really, I love a story when it’s easy to identify who your favourite character is, and the Shades of Magic series mixes that in with killer plot and an envious magic system. My reviews for ADSOM and AGOS.
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Do I understand the plot of The Raven Cycle? Hmm, not really. But I am in love with it?
You bet your ass I am.
The Raven Cycle centers around Blue Sargent, an ungifted teen with a family of clairvoyants, who falls into place with a group of private school boys on a quest to find a dead Welsh king who will grant them all the wishes in the world.
The Raven King is the final book in the quartet, and is literally the definition of beauty. The whole series does have the story of finding this Welsh king running through it, but really, I like to just focus on the characters and their stories, their histories, and how the true meaning of friendship runs through the whole narrative. the hunt is the thing that brings them together, but it is not the thing that makes the story incredible. Each character is fleshed out and so diverse that you don’t end up doing that thing where you don’t know who’s talking; you know, and you fall in love with all of them. My review for The Raven King is here, but I wouldn’t read it unless you’ve read the previous books!
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
And while this list is in no particular order, I feel like I may have saved the best until last.
Crooked Kingdom is the last book in the The Dregs trilogy, and tells the story of Kaz Breker and his gang of theives, spies and sharpshooters, who pull a heist when offered a deal they cannot refuse. And it’s glorious. I’ve been calling it a fantasy Ocean’s Eleven, but it is so much more than that. Each main character has their own POV, and it’s a fantastic insight into the story among different perspective.
I urge you to read any Leigh Bardugo anyway, but it seems Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom comes out on top.
What are some of your favourite books from this year? Link me your blog posts in the comments and maybe I’ll find some of my favourite reads of 2017!