I’ve read some amazing books lately.
The kind of books that inspire me and teach me. The kind of books that make so drunk on wonderment I want to write more and better and now. The kind of books that, conversely, make me want to do nothing but curl up in a corner with some tea and lose myself in other words and worlds.
I recommend all three. Seriously, go buy them. The second two were library books, but now they’re on my Christmas list because I really need to own them.
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
Katniss Everdeen is a survivor who’s forced to grow up fast and feed her family when her father dies in a mining accident. She lives in the poverty-stricken, coal-mining Twelfth District of a futuristic version of North America. Every year, the central government demands a tribute of two children (a boy and a girl) from each district. The children must fight to the death in a popular reality show called The Hunger Games. When Katniss’s little sister is chosen to be this year’s tribute, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead. She forms an alliance with the other tribute from her district, a boy who once saved her life. But when it’s kill or be killed, who has time for feelings?
When I finished this book, I reread it immediately. I don’t reread often, so that’s telling. Character usually grabs me most, honestly, but with this one it was the plot that slayed me. Katniss is always in danger, mortal and otherwise. There were several twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Her world is fascinating and fully-drawn. And devastating. It also disturbing echoes of our own twenty-first century obsession with the schadenfreude of reality TV. (I am so impressed with myself for spelling schadenfreude right on the first try! Ha.) I couldn’t get it out of my head for days, and I still find myself thinking about it almost two weeks later. I’m now foisting it on friends (hi, Rosaline!) so we can talk about it. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait for the next one!
THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS by E. Lockhart
Frankie is being added to my list of all-time favorite characters. As a freshman, she trails invisibly after her big sister Zada at Alabaster, their prestigious prep school. As a newly-pretty sophomore, she gets noticed by her longtime crush, Matthew Livingston. But Frankie’s not so seduced by Matthew and his exclusive inner circle that she fails to notice he’s keeping secrets from her. Frankie doesn’t get mad; Frankie gets even. Soon she’s the one pulling the strings of Alabaster’s lame all-male secret society, the Basset Hounds. But when Frankie’s secrets come out, what price will she have to pay for breaking all of their rules?
I want to be best friends with Frankie. She’s super-smart. She loves words and strawberry Mentos. Her machinations aren’t about being popular; they’re about being significant. Frankie wants to be visible. She refuses to put up with being Matthew’s adorable arm-candy; she won’t make herself small to suit anyone. Her outrage and her independence and her heartbreak are so, so relatable. Seriously, I dare you not to love Frankie.
BTW, this book was just nominated for the National Book Award for YA, so lots of other people also think it’s awesome.
THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary Pearson
Jenna wakes up. She’s been in an accident and subsequently a year-long coma, and she has no recollection of her previous life. As her memories slowly return, she realizes her parents are keeping some important secrets. Who was Jenna Fox? And more importantly, who is she now?
I didn’t love the coda; I would have been happier, I think, with an open-ended story. But otherwise I loved this book wholeheartedly. I loved the structure, the unfurling mystery. Jenna is a great character, funny and thoughtful and deeply compelling. Her unique situation highlights the struggle teens go through as they try to define themselves in relation to their parents. (Do we ever stop doing that, actually? I know I still have my moments.) The book also tackles medical ethics and the notion of the soul and social responsibility and…it’s such a thoughtful book. I love that.
What are you reading?