Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My favorite books of 2013

I'm sure some people looked at that title and wondered if I got the date wrong, nope! Since I get so many books from libraries it takes a little while for me to get to everything and, since last December the list of books from 2013 I wanted to read was greater than the list of those which I had, I decided to revisit the idea halfway through 2014. I'm actually not done posting all my reviews of 2013 books yet, who knows if I'll ever be done, but all of the ones on this list I have reviewed previously so let's get started! Oh and, unsurprisingly, not only is this a short list but it's also all YA, I really am trying to read more broadly but I'm having a hard time finding adult fiction that simply entertains me as much as YA that's not straight-up non-fiction.

The Dream Thieves: I rarely see a YA novel as character driven as this one since, while there is an underlying plot which made some startling advancements in this installment, at the heart of it this book is about our four raven boys and Blue and how they interact with each other and the world at large. I also found myself rather enjoying the "literal" symbolism, yes there are a lot of metaphors for searching for something you're missing in life (whether it be a family, love, a reason or goal for moving forward) but they cast is also quite determined to find their dead Welsh king in the Virginia heartland, I certainly would have enjoyed my AP English Literature class much more if the symbolism had that kind of double meaning and I'm looking forward not only to Blue Lily, Lily Blue later this year but to also reread the series in a few years and see what I didn't pick up on the first time around.

Hero: This series has shifted from just using fairy tales to create a story to using a story to create it's own fairy tale, I feel like that made both stronger and stand out in a frankly over-saturated genre. There's not spluttering or awkwardness as Saturday and Peregrine find themselves in stranger and stranger situations, directness is practically Saturday's defining trait (if it's not hardheadedness and hey she gets better at that!) and Peregrine perfectly shows why you might become so discouraged as to stop trying to better your situation, even as he goes out of his way to help Saturday, hoping that she can succeed where he has failed. I am a little worried for the series as a whole however, Enchanted and Hero are connected enough that they can work as companion novels but at the end a rather large connecting thread rears its head and, given that the next book (Dearest) is going to focus on a character that wasn't even in this book (I'm quite proud of myself for calling that the next book would focus on Friday) I have no idea how this is all going to tie together. BUT I've been excited for stories with far less promising premises so I'll be bugging my library to get that book as soon as I can, fingers crossed that this time I won't have a four month wait!

The Summer Prince: I was thrilled when I remembered that this was a 2013 book since this book left a larger impression on me than almost anything else I read last year. It's a vibrant book, as full of energy and ideas as the cover is colorful and that's what I want in my sci-fi, not a hopeless dystopia but one where despite everything humanity is still full of ideas. In retrospect the book is a bit like Scott Westerfeld's Uglies/Pretties/Specials series, it ascribes to the idea that no matter the era people will love to party and love to rebel and excel at out-doing each other in both of these ideas, that's more or less the entire idea behind the the summer king and the contest June is in. Plus, complicated multi-person friendship-romance relationships, I would really like to see more of those in YA fiction given how most people have a pretty small, tight-knit, group of friends they can talk about anything with (and I know mine aren't the first to have very specific, unspoken rules about how dating works, that's the kind of complicated relationship I want to see here). I have found out since writing my initial review that no, the slang in the book isn't actual Brazilian/Portuguese slang which does make me disappointed and reminds me of how much I'd love to read some fiction that comes from Brazil, too bad there's a language barrier to keep me from jumping straight into it.

The Lost Sun: This is a book I haven't thought terribly much about but I did read it in one day, while moving, so I admittedly had a lot on my mind. While reading however I was happy to discover that this was a very thorough re-imagining of America as a Viking colony down to the last detail which is exactly what I want out of alternate world stories. It certainly felt as if Gratton had done more than read a beginners guide to Norse mythology (I so rarely see stories focusing on Baldur and it was nice to see him worked into both that mythology and into the Christian mythology which some believe heavily inspired him) and I'll be sure to read the next book when it comes out later this year, although I do wonder how this series will ultimately tie together since this book tied itself up rather nicely.

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