Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is top ten unique book titles, and this is a theme that is very close to my heart. For better or for worse, I’m often drawn to books with unique titles. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but here are ten uniquely titled books that I’ve reviewed since starting this blog.
Happy Top Ten Tuesday! The topics are officially back, and this week is all about book recommendations. The actual theme is ten book recommendations for _____, and I decided to go with ten book recommendations for people who want to get into YA.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand why adults read YA. For me, it’s an escape from the everyday realities of my adult life – work, bills, conflict – but the genre has also evolved from when I was within the target demographic. For the most part, the genre has grown out of its former boy drama stereotype and branched out into much more varied stories.
Similarly, Morgan Matson’s books always get a fair bit of hype, and with good reason. She crafts realistic characters who face real-world problems in an age-appropriate way – something that used to be almost unheard of in YA. In Since You’ve Been Gone, Emily’s best friend has disappeared without a trace, leaving her only a list of thirteen tasks to complete before summer ends.
An author that (almost) always does the genre justice is Libba Bray. I’ve been a huge fan of hers for over a decade now, and I continue to read everything that she publishes.
In Beauty Queens, Bray delivers a story focused on a group of teenage beauty pageant contestants that have been stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. The diverse cast uses their combined talents to survive while simultaneously dismantling the patriarchy.
Changing styles completely, Bray’s Lair of Dreamsfollows a psychic flapper and her oddball group of friends through 1920′s New York City as they solve mysteries and fight stereotypes. This spooky series is ongoing, with the third book publishing later this year.
The Hate U Givetells the story of Starr, a young girl who witnesses police shooting (and killing) her unarmed friend, and the fallout from friends, family, and the media. In addition to police brutality, it discusses the demonization of victims and the realities of being a young POC in the United States. Somehow, Thomas does this without ever once sounding preachy.
By now, Red Risingis a few years old, and you’ve probably either read it or decided that you’re over the hype. On the off chance that you haven’t, let me tell you about this wonderful story. This intricately built world features a number of castes and a protagonist who attempts to dismantle the system from within. It’s rare for dystopian YA to feel new, but Pierce Brown has created an incredible world.
David Levithan is a pretty ubiquitous YA author, and his books rarely disappoint. The best in recent memory is his collaboration with Nina LaCour, You Know Me Well. Stepping aside from the typical romance plot, Levithan and LaCour build a beautiful friendship between two strangers struggling with their own problems.
With a host of taboo topics, The Death of Beeseasily steps away from what you might expect from YA. This is a dark, twisted, creepy story about the powerful relationship between two sisters, and everything that the older sister would do to keep the younger one safe. Tackling topics such as drug abuse, dead parents, and prostitution, it’s not for the squeamish, but it’s so worth it if you’re willing to take a chance.
Rainbow Rowell’s Carry Onis unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s based on the world of Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque character from Rowell’s Fangirl, and Simon’s rival-slash-love interest, Baz. Simon and Baz put their differences aside to fight some evil monsters, and somehow, at the same time, fall in love.
My Lady Jane is based on the true story of Lady Jane Grey. The authors take a lot of creative liberties with Jane’s life, involving shapeshifters and a bunch of Monty Python-style references, to create a hilarious retelling of the events that led to England’s Nine Day Queen.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Death of Bees from Harper in exchange for an honest review.
So often these days, families are labeled as “dysfunctional” if the dad drinks or the mom has a fling with the soccer coach. “Flawed” characters might be afraid of commitment, or have slept with one too many people, or occasionally skip class to go shopping with their friends. If you’re sick and tired of this false version of reality, you’ll probably like this book. But if you’re squeamish and/or you don’t like the idea of underage sex, drug abuse, dead parents, prostitution, and homosexuality, this is proabably NOT a book for you.
Let’s get one thing straight. The Death of Bees is dark. It’s creepy. The characters are flawed. Marnie is fifteen. She sells drugs, sleeps with a married man, and is fiercely independent. Nelly is sweet and innocent, but talks like an elderly woman, despite the fact that she’s twelve. Lennie is a gentle old man who made a bad decision years ago and is still paying the price.
On the first page of the book, we learn that both the parents are dead. The girls are burying Gene, their dad, in the backyard. They’re trying to hide Izzy, their mom, so nobody will find out she’s dead. Marnie and Nelly are trying to keep their parents death hidden just long enough… just until Marnie turns sixteen and can become Nelly’s legal guardian. Their parents were abusive and often left the girls alone for long periods of time, so the girls figure that people won’t ask too many questions. Lennie takes them in, feeds them, gives them a safe place to stay, and everything is ok… until out of nowhere, their mysterious grandfather (previously unknown to the girls) shows up asking too many questions and attempting to take custody.
The Death of Bees is an engaging, well-written story about the strength of family (blood relatives and otherwise) and the resilience of these young girls in the face of everything going wrong in their lives.