I don’t know if it’s the fact that the nights are getting longer that’s making reading so appealing right now, or the fact that there are just so many amazing books sitting on my shelf, just waiting to be read. Whatever the reason, I can’t wait to tell you all about what I’ve been reading this month, so here they are:
I loved this book from the start. In fact, I’ll admit that I loved it from the title, even though I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
The main character in Fangirl is Cath, a fanfiction writer and identical twin, who’s heading off to university for the first time. This is the first time she’s really felt separated from her identical twin sister Wren, who whilst she’s attending the same university, has a very different idea of how she’s going to spend her time there. Outgoing Wren wants to drink, meet boys and go to parties. Meanwhile, Cath just wants to write her fanfiction. But of course, university life isn’t just going to let that happen.
First of all, Cath was an incredibly relatable character. There were times when Cath reminded me of myself – probably most of all on the night that I read Fangirl when I could have been at a party, and Cath had also turned down a party, only she was writing Simon Snow fanfiction. I loved how the story kept evolving, and how it covered so many aspects of life: this wasn’t just a story about first love, or fanfiction, or university, or about what it’s like to be on your own for the first time. This book was filled with surprises, and I really wish it could have gone on forever.
I would highly recommend this book to any fangirls out there, whatever your age. I’ve very much “been there, done” the whole university experience, but that didn’t take away from the book, or make it feel immature or like a story I’d heard before. It still felt as relevant to me now as it would have done the year I started university, and it was a complete joy to be part of Cath’s world.
Like a lot of Fey’s work, this book was very funny and very clever. It’s written in a wonderfully entertaining way that makes it easy to pick up again, and meant that I raced through it in a number of days. Throughout its pages, she reveals snapshots of her life: she writes about growing up, teenage romances that weren’t really romances at all, getting into comedy, the story of the honeymoon from hell, and more.
A lot of Fey’s experiences are very unique. Of course, that’s a good thing – it’s what makes her who she is. It was great reading about Fey’s experience of being part of theatre groups, learning improv, and working in comedy, and it was enlightening too, because that’s something I know absolutely nothing about. At the same time, there were moments when I felt like my lack of interest in working in comedy might have taken away some of my enjoyment of the book. For someone who wants to get into comedy or work in television however, this would probably be a perfect read throughout.
My favourite parts of the book were the ones which helped me to understand what drives Fey, the chapters in which she talked honestly about how hard she’s worked to get where she is, and even the times when she’s doubted herself. This book also gave rise to one of my all-time favourite quotes:
“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”
This was the exact reason I read this book. Fey is a master of “being yourself”, and this really shines through in the pages of this book. She’s smart, she’s witty, she’s a bit of a dork at times (in my mind, this is a compliment), and she’s determined to do her thing no matter what anyone else says.
Written by Matt Fraction, Illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Sex Criminals tells the story of Suzie and Jon, two people who can literally stop time when they have sex. Naturally, they decide to put this power to good use – by robbing a bank.
This graphic novel was fun, entertaining, and surprisingly grounded, given the bizarre plot line. At several points whilst reading, I found myself laughing out loud and wanting to send it off to someone else so that they could laugh about it too. The premise was fun, but also serious, clever, and well-written, so the novel itself never felt like a joke. I thought the characters were interesting, and weirdly relatable at times, considering their unconventional powers. In fact, with her huge collection of books, I’m pretty sure Suzie and I could be great friends.
I really liked the art style, though some of the art was definitely not something to get out in public. I do feel obliged to warn anyone considering reading this, that this is definitely a graphic novel for adults. Being an awkward young person who sometimes doesn’t know where to look when watching Game of Thrones, I did cringe when reading it at times. That being said, the tone of this is a whole lot lighter than something like Game of Thrones, though a lot a lot more candid and realistic, so if you can handle the sex scenes in that, this might feel like a breeze.
Sex Criminals, like most good graphic novels, manages to merge together real-life issues like growing up, friendships, and relationships, and the extraordinary, a.k.a. the ability to stop time.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
If it wasn’t my local YA book club’s book of the month, I don’t think I ever would have considered buying this book. But this is why book clubs are great: they showed me something new, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Illuminae is a unique and intriguing young adult sci-fi, told through a series of instant messages, security logs, diary entries, and transcripts. At the start of the story, the planet Kady and Ezra live on has been attacked, and they’ve been evacuated to two separate spaceships to escape their attackers. Only hours before all this unfolded, Kady and Ezra had gone through a break-up. So it’s not quite your average tale of teenage heartbreak.
It took me a little while to get used to the format of this novel, but once that happened and the events in the novel started to pick up, I became engrossed. The plot line was engaging, original and unpredictable, and Kady was a character I could really get behind. There was also some truly brilliant writing towards the end, which I won’t say much about, other than to say that it was strangely poetic considering the circumstances.
The downsides to the book were few, and most of these were limited to the first half of the novel. The instant messaging at the start felt a little claustrophobic to me, but most of it was setting up the relationship between Kady and Ezra, so it paid off.
Overall, I thought this book was great, and I will definitely be reading the second novel in the two-part series. The writers did a really great job of conveying the characters and story through such an unconventional format. If you’re looking for an atypical YA book, this is the one to read.
As for the next month, I already have some exciting reads in the pipeline. I’m currently reading the second book in James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse series, Caliban’s War, and I’m planning on reading The Lonely City by Olivia Lang (plus any other books which take my fancy between now and the end of December). If you have a recommendation, I’d love to hear it – maybe I’ll be reviewing it next month!
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