Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 5 in 2011, so far: Katie Takes a Turn

Here are a few of my favorite books published so far this year (with a couple of bonus recommendations from 2010 that I didn’t read until 2011). 

Delirium, Lauren Oliver (see full review here)
Imagine a world in which love is considered a disease. Nearly impossible, right? Well, Lauren Oliver did it in this dystopian masterpiece. Read it now and then read it again when the sequel comes out next year. Lena and Alex are my favorite fictional couple of the year so far, although I recommend reading with a box of Kleenex nearby.

You Killed Wesley Payne, Sean Beaudoin (see full review here)
If you find yourself feeling nostalgic for classrooms and cliques this summer (or even if you don’t), you should read this book. Dalton Rev is a teenage private investigator, who has enrolled at Salt River High to get to the bottom of the death of Wesley Payne, a job easier said than done as he finds himself in the midst of one of the most violent, convoluted, and comic turf wars literature has ever seen. 

Divergent, Veronica Roth
I considered skipping this one as I feel that the award for best dystopian book of the year should go to Lauren Oliver, but that would have been a huge disservice to myself (and you, if you have sworn off all non-Suzanne Collins worlds). The phrase “compulsively readable” should be reserved for books like this: the sort that inspire you to read nearly 500 pages in one 24-hour span. The story of Tris and Four may remind readers of The Hunger Games, but this series opener stands on its own as a fascinating look at what corrupts humans and what makes a hero. Fast paced, intense, violent, and heartbreaking, this has all the makings of a summer blockbuster and more.

Okay For Now, Gary D. Schmidt (see full review here)
Anyone who can make Audubon’s Birds of America seem cool will always get my vote. Thoughtful, funny, and life-affirming, Doug Swieteck’s story of being the new kid in Marysville, struggling with a troubled father, helping his Vietnam veteran brother get back on his feet (figuratively), starring on Broadway, and falling a little bit in love is the sort of book that reminded me why I love reading. It’s the sort of book that will make you laugh a lot, maybe cry a little, and inspire you to connect more with the people around you.

Prom and Prejudice, Elizabeth Eulberg (see full review here)
Every “Best of...” list should include a nod to Jane Austen. This modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice is light beach reading at its best. My motto: Never pass up an excuse to fall in love with Darcy again. Even if Lizzie and Darcy are now in high school in Connecticut.

Bonus: Why Didn’t I Read These Last Year?

Finnikin of the Rock, Melina Marchetta
Have you read Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia Series or Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and thought that maybe it was the greatest thing ever? If so, hurry to the library and grab this book now. This is the sort of smart, complex, occasionally romantic, always exciting fantasy novel that comes around every so often, and when it does, it begs to be read again and again.

Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver for President 2012! Seriously. I picked this one up after falling into raptures over Delirium. I had avoided it despite rave reviews because I couldn’t get on board with the combination of Possible Major Character Death and Groundhog Day concept. The former sounded depressing and the latter sounded slightly repetitive. I should have known that in Oliver’s capable hands Sam’s story of living the same day over seven times would actually be one of the most uplifting and captivating books I’ve read in ages.

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