More Than This by Patrick Ness is a roller coaster of a novel. It seems to be pretty divisive as a novel. People either love it or they hate it. I probably lean more to the love it side, but I couldn't give it the highest rating because of its weirdness.
Things I love about this book:
- As a reader, you aren't sure what's happening. Is the main character dead? Is he alive?
- Diverse characters! LGBTQ people, WOC (women of color for those who don't know) and non-English native speakers!!! YAY!!
- The writing, of course. Ness is fantastic as always.
- The story line (once I figured out what was going on)
I would recommend this to people who have read Ness' work before, or who are really open to strange books.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu is an intriguing first book in her new series by the same name. There were several things I liked about this book: Diverse cast of characters (POC, people with disabilities), an interesting plot line, solid world-building. But there were a few things I didn't enjoy too: sometimes the storytellers blended together, women's actions boiled down to men, the fact that I thought it was a standalone when it's a series (sighhhhhh). Overall, I think it'd be good for someone looking for a dark series to stick with as it's being published.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers is a must-read for everyone. Especially with the current climate of America (regarding Michael Brown and Eric Garner--to name a paltry two in the face of so many). Monster is a book written largely in the format of a movie script. It follows Steve--a teenager on trial for being part of a store hold-up that ended in murder. It explores race and how race is reflected in the courtroom and public media. I would literally recommend this book to anyone who hasn't yet read it.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my favorite books growing up. I had to reread it for a class, and it still struck a chord with me. It's interesting how the first sentence has begun to date the novel though. It starts with a line about being 60 years ago, which now would be 1954. Clearly the rest of the story doesn't match that time period, which I wondered how that would affect the reading for newer generations. This first novel in the Little House series is less problematic than some of the others, but it still has its moments. My favorite thing about these books is how happy the Ingalls are with so little. I would definitely still recommend this book to younger readers who enjoy historical fiction and less adventurous tales.
The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin is a spectacular non-fiction novel for readers of any age. This is another extremely important read to understand the effects and impacts of race in America. It tells the true story of a group of sailors in the Navy during World War II who refused to load highly explosive...explosives after they managed to survive one explosion. It is compiled with great readability and features many excellent photographs throughout. It is inspiring and disheartening at the same time. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A must read for anyone interested in race relations or history.
The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure is an incredible look at how deeply impactful books read as a child can be. McClure does basically anything related to the Little House books: she reads all the books, watches all of the TV show, goes on a road trip to the places mentioned in the books, and learns various crafts mentioned in the books. McClure has a hilarious writing style--I found myself laughing through most of the book. I adored this book. I would recommend it to anyone who read the Little House books when they were young.
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich is another option for those who enjoy historical middle grade fiction. Like the Little House books, The Birchbark House follows a little girl of 7 years old. However Omakayas is Ojibiwa. The Birchbark House follows the Ojibiwa culture from the same time period as the Little House books occurred. It's a stellar book to read to learn about cultural differences (more historically than currently) and how the arrival of white settlers affected the Ojibiwa tribe. I would recommend this book to people who enjoyed the Little House books or historical fiction in general.
Nation by Terry Pratchett is an interesting look at an alternate history. I really like the two main characters in this novel, and I love the glimpses of the Nation's culture, but I still feel like Pratchett drops the importance of the Nation in some way which I have a hard time articulating. I liked it better this time reading it than I did the first time I read it, but I also remembered this time that it was an alternate history and not a historical fiction novel. I would hesitantly recommend this book to people who like stories about cultural differences. I think Pratchett does a good job exploring them, but as it is an invented culture, I'm not entirely impressed.
The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin was a bit of let down as far as series enders go. I enjoyed the first part of the book, but the ending just didn't sit right with me. I thought Hodkin's explanation was uncharacteristic to the rest of the series. However, the writing is still stellar, and I got engrossed in the story from the beginning. I was happy with certain aspects of the ending (sorry trying to be spoiler-free, but it's tricky!). I feel like even with my dissatisfaction, Hodkin did actually work to close off all her dangling questions and story lines, so I can appreciate that. Definitely worth the read to finish off the series!
Prequel/Sequel Challenge Points 88 + 2 = 90 + 10 = 100 points!
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson is a super intense historical fiction novel. It's a little hard to explain the novel without affecting how people read it, so I'm not going to do that. I didn't particularly enjoy it the first time I read it because it was a little too intense for me, but this time I was more prepared, and I really really liked it.
I would definitely recommend this book to people who like scholarly pursuits, rooting for someone without power, and historical fiction.