So it’s been a few weeks since I have done one of these posts. May was a transition month for me since school was ending and I began working more hours. Things have balanced themselves out now and I am back to blogging more often. It was hard to choose just five books. The first six months of 2015 have been good reading wise so narrowing it down to five was extremely difficult. After much deliberation however, I have come up with the following books:
5. Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz ****
It has been a while since I read a novel from the point of view of a male protagonist. Most of the current literature in the Young Adult genre revolves around girls and while I do find those stories compelling, it is nice to change things up sometimes. Also, Aristotle & Dante is the first book I’ve read where an LGBT relationship is at the forefront of the plot.
Not much happens in this novel. It is very “quiet,” focusing mainly on the thoughts and confused feelings of Ari. I love how the relationship between Ari and Dante takes time to develop. It is not instalove, which is a YA trope I loathe. Saenz manages to create a courtship that is unique in its own right. I’ve become so used to how relationships between boys and girls develop in YA novels that reading a LGBT romance was a refreshing change. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a little different in YA fiction.
4. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick ****
Superheroes are hot right now. Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor are once again household names. While I enjoy those movies, I, like many other comic book fans, crave a superhero movie starring a female protagonist. Luckily, Marvel has announced that they are going to release Captain Marvel in November 2018, a film that will focus on Carol Danvers. Since three years is an awfully long time to wait, I have decided to immerse myself in Captain Marvel comics.
This volume is the first in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick. There is a previous Captain Marvel series that came out in 2012 and lasted for two years, but it is from the most recent one that Marvel will likely mine material for the film. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More is a sprawling space fantasy adventure that teams Danvers with the Guardians of the Galaxy. What I like about this volume is its fun and cohesive story. DeConnick’s characterization of Danvers is spot-on. She is both a strong, yet vulnerable superhero who is fiercely loyal to her friends and teammates. She is also a huge Star Wars nerd, as is evident by her cat Chewie, her ship Harrison, and her attempt to use a Jedi mind trick against an enemy. I find Danvers to be extremely relatable in that regard. It is also refreshing to see a woman who is a nerd kick some major ass alongside her male teammates. Though I loved both volumes in this series, Vol. 1 was a nice introduction to Danvers’ character and world.
3. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung ****
This past semester, I took a class called Perspectives on Genocide which was a requirement for my Holocaust and Genocide Studies minor. I had to read many powerful and world changing books, but none were as gripping as Ung’s memoir about the Cambodian Genocide. Enthralling, compelling and at times hard to read, First They Killed My Father is a must read for anyone interested in studying how genocide dehumanizes victims. I gave this book four stars not because I didn’t like it, but because some parts were very hard to read. The emotion is so raw, that it will be a few years before I decide to revisit this book again.
2. Fairest by Marissa Meyer *****
There is something you should know about me. I love fairy tales. And I love science fiction. Put the those things together, and you have one happy reader. The Lunar Chronicles has quickly become one of my favorite book series of all time. It reminds me of how run reading can be. While I do enjoy character studies, my favorite novels are the ones that take me on adventures to worlds I have never experienced before. The Lunar Chronicles does just that with an amazing cast of characters. Each book in the series has improved upon the last and while Cress is still my favorite of the bunch, Fairest blew my mind.
A prequel of sorts, Fairest tells the story of The Lunar Chronicles’ ruthless villain Queen Levana and how she went from a young, neglected child to the merciless ruler of Luna. I really enjoyed seeing things from Levana’s perspective and even felt sorry for her at points. With that said, I am not fully sympathetic to her plight and cannot wait to see what happens to her, Cinder, Scarlet and Cress in the series’ final volume Winter.
1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell *****
For me, the first five months of 2015 have been all about Rainbow Rowell. I read every single one of her books–and even met her at Bookcon. Rowell has easily become one of my favorite writers of all time. She has a knack for writing books that are relatable, realistic, inspiring and fun. I would go as far as calling her the modern day John Hughes. It was hard to select one Rowell book for the list. Four of these spots could have been devoted to Rowell’s catalog of novels, but for me Eleanor & Park reigns supreme.
Set in 1986, Eleanor & Park chronicles the true love between two outcasts in a small Nebraskan town. Brought together by the comic book Watchman, Eleanor and Park soon discover that although the world is trying to tear them apart, love is worth fighting for. I enjoyed the dark portrayal of Eleanor’s homelife. It gave an interesting spin to the narrative, one that sets it apart from other YA novels I have read. If you want to read Rowell’s novels, I suggest starting with Eleanor & Park.