This month, I’ve read a real mixture of books, including young adult, sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. Here’s what I’ve been reading.
(Re-Read) Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska is a coming-of-age novel about a boy whose life changes when he moves away to a boarding school and meets the beautiful, captivating and unpredictable Alaska Young. It’s an emotional story that pulls on all the emotions, filled with recklessness and laughter, then heartbreak and tragedy.
I first read Looking for Alaska about six years ago, and it quickly became one of my favourite books. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book now that I’m older, but I’m pleased to say that I still love John Green’s writing, and found this story emotional, meaningful and thought-provoking. I found this book slightly less impactful during my re-read, and that’s probably because I found this book at exactly the right age, and some of the content is slightly less shocking now that I’m older. I can still understand exactly why I loved this book, and I’m unbelievably excited that John Green has a new book coming out later on this year!
Original Rating: 5/5
Re-Read Rating: 4.5/5
American Gods is a long and winding roadtrip of a fantasy book, featuring bizarre and intriguing characters and based on mythology. Shortly before his release from prison, soon-to-be ex-convict Shadow learns that his wife Laura has been killed in a car accident. Released early and on his way to Laura’s funeral, Shadow meets a mysterious man called Mr Wednesday, a con-artist and trickster looking for a bodyguard. With nothing left to lose, Shadow accepts the job, and soon finds himself part of a conflict between gods from across mythology.
Having finally read American Gods, I can completely understand the hype surrounding it. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic writer, and elements of this book were pure genius. American Gods is the kind of book that completely captures the imagination, that pulls you into the story and holds you there until the end. Whilst its long and winding road-trip of a plot might not be to every reader’s taste, this was an imaginative, clever, and engrossing read.
Rating: 4.5/5 – Book of the month!
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)
V. E. Schwab
This Savage Song is a fantasy book that takes place in a divided city, ruled by two warring sides, in which crimes and violent deeds spawn monsters. The two main viewpoints are heirs to opposite sides of the city. Kate Harker’s father makes a living and a reputation selling the city’s inhabitants protection from the monsters he controls, and Kate strives to prove that she can be just as ruthless. August, meanwhile, is a monster who can steal souls by playing music, and wants to be human.
Having fallen in love with V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, I had high hopes for this book. I loved the concept, and the characters in this story felt immediately vivid and interesting. The writing in this book is fantastic, the plot gripping, and the characterization impressive. Although I didn’t love this quite as much as the Shades of Magic series, I really liked this book, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Our Dark Duet.
Dancing Barefoot is a short collection of essays based on Wil Wheaton’s blog posts. In these posts, he writes about topics including Star Trek, grief, and William Shatner.
This collection of stories from Wil Wheaton’s life was a quick and easy read that I finished in one evening. Wil Wheaton is a great storyteller, so from that perspective, I enjoyed this book. However, it didn’t really feel like there was very much substance to this, especially compared to Just a Geek, which I really connected to. It also repeated stories I had heard before, so it didn’t feel as novel. This was a nice collection of well-written and relatable essays, but it’s too short to really make any kind of impact.
Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4)
James S. A. Corey
Warning: incoming spoilers for earlier books in The Expanse. Cibola Burn is the fourth installment in James S. A. Corey’s The Expanse series. The story takes place on New Terra, one of the new planets revealed by the gates discovered in the previous book. Conflict breaks out on New Terra between settlers who have already begun to inhabit the planet, and the company that owns the official claim to the planet, with the crew of the Rocinante stuck in the middle.
This is the first sci-fi series I’ve really connected to for some time. Whilst my favourite characters are still Bobbie and Avasarala from book two, I liked the viewpoints in this book, and really enjoyed the plot. I also loved some of the more high sci-fi concepts in Cibola Burn. I found some of the themes and characters in this book a little similar to the previous book, but I liked how quickly the pace progressed. Overall, this was another great book in The Expanse series, and I’m very excited to read the next book.
The Art of Being Normal
The Art of Being Normal is a contemporary young adult book told from the viewpoints of two teenagers. The main characters are David, who’s called “freak show” by his classmates and wants to be a girl, and Leo, the new boy at school, who’s trying to keep a low profile whilst hiding secrets of his own. This is an emotional book featuring a transgender protagonist, and themes including friendship, family, and bullying.
I liked this book most of all because it tells a story we don’t see in many books, and because it handles a number of issues with sensitivity. I found the characters in this book believable and unique, particularly David, whose attitude I liked from the start. This book is very character-driven, so I didn’t find myself completely gripped by the plot, and the writing didn’t feel quite as impactful as I expected, but this was still an enjoyable read that tells an important story.
I already have a couple of books lined up for July, including the last couple of books on my YALC reading list. I’m currently reading Karen M. McManus’ One of Us is Lying, which is definitely living up to expectations so far, and I’m looking forward to starting Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle.
What have you been reading this month?
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