Hello again! October is almost over, and I thought I’d update you on my October reading challenge.
So far, I’ve read Something Strange and Deadly, Sharp Objects, All The Truth That’s In Me, Stargirl, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The 5th Wave, If You Find Me, It’s Kind of A Funny Story, and Roni Loren’s serial, Not Until You. I’m in the middle of reading Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I’m giving my quick thoughts and recommendations for four of them below (more to come!)
SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard:
This was a great story I’d definitely recommend. It has lots of fun steampunk elements, an interesting take on zombies, and all the Victorian charm you could want. The romance is sweet and compelling. I’d expect younger to older adolescents and adults would enjoy this tremendously. The cover (how gorgeous is that?) skewed my expectations a little for this one, though. From the age of the girl on the cover as well as the colors, I assumed this would be more grim and read a bit older, and because of the lushness of the artwork, I expected the prose to match. I was surprised that the story read younger and that the prose was fresh and crisp, instead. However, this is a great adventure with lots of danger, action, and suspense. I very much enjoyed it.
ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry:
I’ve been looking forward to the release of this one for a while. It’s a fantastic mystery/thriller, and was so suspenseful I could hardly put it down. What really impressed me about this book, though, was the unusual narrative structure and the incredibly tight information control. If you’re looking for a story that makes use of unusual devices, or if you want a great example of avoiding info-dumping and backstory, give this one a try. Of course, I recommend it for other reasons, too– this story is all about healing and redemption, and does a brilliant job of using twists. If you want a gutsy, struggling heroine, Judith is your girl. Berry also is a master of spare, poetic prose that pins down moments and emotion. This story is haunting, riveting, and gorgeously written. The twist at the end was stunning. Highly recommended for teens and adults who want a gripping, thought-provoking read.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson:
This one’s an adult thriller, not YA, and it’s a marvelous example of how much variety is available in fiction. I’ve heard people say they hated this book or couldn’t get through it, and others raved and said they couldn’t put it down. I struggled for the first half because of the sheer amount of information and backstory. I felt sometimes like I was waiting for the story to start happening. This book is the reason I did not read 15 books this month– it took me a week to get through it. However, I sped through the last half and it completely convinced me Steig Larsson is a genius. He pulls this story together in the final third in such a brilliant way that I was simply stunned. This is one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever read. The story is in very omniscient third person, but the characters are so vivid it feels much closer to them. For doing a ton with character in a handful of words, read this book. The pacing and plot twists are some of the sharpest I’ve seen in a while. It really stretched me as a writer to see something so much at the other end of the spectrum from YA, and still excellently done. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend reading this for craft alone. The story itself is fascinating and unexpected. Lisbeth won me over like few heroines have ever done. This book is well worth the time, and I’m so glad I stuck around for the second half.
STARGIRL by Jerry Spineli:
This is a smart, engaging YA contemporary about nonconformity, individuality, and porcupine neckties. It reminded me of John Green’s works, but geared a bit younger. It’s a charming, thought-provoking story and would be a great choice for anyone looking for an unexpected, sweet, and meaningful story for either themselves or teens. (Note: this has become my go-to recommendation for parents who are looking for something less dark and without swearing.) It’s quite a bit different from what I usually read, and again, I find those sorts of books challenge my writing. The writing is funny and insightful. The emotions run as deep as the ideas. I can’t imagine anyone not loving this book. Go read it!
More book thoughts on my next four reads coming up!