Almost halfway through 2017, so before the madness of #PeerPitch #1st50, we decided to chat about the best we’ve read this year so far.
Let us know if you love any of these, too! And tell us about your faves…we’d love to read more gems!
- Pantomime by Laura Lam – Diverse, complex, engaging characters and world building which blew me away. Two POVs from the same character in different timelines but both full of tension and surprise throughout. And that ending!!!
Full review here.
- Slated by Teri Terry – Recommended by a student, I couldn’t stop reading. A unique narrative style and a premise which oozed tension and engulfed me with questions at every new turn in the plot.
- The Forever Court by Dave Rudden – Part 2 of a masterpiece, dark world. Another dual POV but both gripped my attention and made me root for both characters. World building to die for and superb sequel which deepened the characters, their journeys and our knowledge of this unique world. Full review here.
- Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans – A fresh new spin on some classic Greek characters. Not only hilarious but a little heartbreaking too…
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – An important, heart breaking read. Really opened my eyes to what life can be like for people of other races and in different communities. Beautiful and thoughtfully written-a future classic.
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner – A moving and relatable coming of age story focusing on three inseparable outcasts, surviving their final year of high school and the prejudices of their small Tennessee town. Jeff Zentner uses alternating third person chapters to draw readers into the lives of Dill, the musician son of an imprisoned, snake handling preacher, fashion blogger, Lydia and fantasy nerd, Travis. This is essentially a tale of enduring friendship, courage and escape; grabbing onto your dreams in the face of past trauma, present adversity and the promise of an empty future. Zenter’s worldbuilding of the rural south is excellent and he deals really well with a wide range of contemporary issues, including, poverty, domestic abuse and religious fundamentalism. In truth, I felt that there were a few occasions where the novel suffered from a slight lack of momentum and I did feel that one or two characters could have benefited from slightly more development – certainly Travis, who was for me possibly the most interesting of the three friends. However, overall I really enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to reading more of Jeff Zentner’s work in the future.
- 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – An intriguing set up that I was originally wary about. Did this book glamorize suicide? I don’t think so. For me it was clear proof that our lives are ultimately connected and the smallest incident can have the biggest impact. In a world where YA have their lives scrutinised over social media I think this book brings to light the cause and effect of behaviour and attitudes and how they are frequently and so casually abused.
- The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – Innocent, captivating and thought provoking. A ‘Before I go to Sleep,’ concept for teens, writen as a coming to age story with a twist. Also an excellent example of how young people, despite huge hurdles, can be driven to achieve amazing things. I loved this book’s energy and character.
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown – Gritty, revolutionary reading. Set on Mars the world building blew me away. Darrow’s voice was dynamic and the whole read kept me on the edge of my seat. Another review here.
- The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell – Historical fiction at its best. While the characters and descriptions were fresh and beautifully crafted, there was a lovely feel of the medieval world of the fairy-tale.
- We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan – Two amazing writers, one gorgeous story of love and friendship. Read it in one go.
- The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig – The Fire Sermon isn’t just a gripping YA dystopian with great characters and fantastic world building, it’s also subtly thought-provoking about our drive for perfection in this modern age. A must read.
- Strange Star by Emma Carroll – a classic Gothic tale, full of mystery and atmosphere, gripping from the start! Quite dark in places so perhaps not for nervous readers!
- The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone – fantastic strong heroine in Gypsy tom boy Moll who embarks on a perilous journey with her wildcat Gryff through a forest filled with villains and dark magic. Definitely one for Philip Pullman fans!
- Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan – YA – When her best friend goes missing, Jess takes it upon herself to investigate the disappearance, trusting no one. Not even the police. Or the boy she’s been falling for – her best-friend’s boyfriend. But as the truth about the events of the summer unravel, Jess is left with more questions than answers.
PROs: This tale of mistakes in love, friendships and family will keep you guessing until the very end.
CONs: The stereotyping of the Mancunian football lout felt lazy.
- Compton Valance series by Matt Brown – MG – Compton Valance and his best-friend, Brian Nylon, become the most powerful boys in the universe when they inadvertently create a time-travelling sandwich. This discovery sends them on wacky adventures together from killing off the dinosaurs with a packet of custard creams, to preventing Compton’s brother, Bravo, from bringing about the complete destruction of the universe.
PROs: Compton and Brian will have you splitting your sides with their madcap adventures.
CONs: If you think about it too hard, not a lot actually happens in each of the stories, but honestly, you won’t really care.
- The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – MG – Isabella lives on a strange island that was once filled with beauty as it roamed free through the oceans. Now ruled by a cruel governor, the people and the island are tethered – unable to flourish. When a fire demon awakens, Isabella goes on a quest to save her beloved island and rescue the people she loves.
PROs: This is a beautiful book full of adventure and terrifying monsters.
CONs: It starts a little slowly, with Isabella waking up and then walking down the street thinking about the different people who live(d) there, rather than actually meeting them,