I’ve been attempting to review every book I’ve read this year since March, but I have a huge backlog since November. Nonetheless, I wanted to reflect on books that have changed my life this year. No, really. They changed my life. Don’t question me on this!
CHILDREN OF TIME/ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
This book. Oh, this book. I thought I was going to hate this book. I received it over JanTerm from my internship, and had to read and report on the first 100 pages within 24 hours. But I had to keep reading it. I read it slowly, perhaps over a week–it was very dense. However. Boy, was it worth it. I think many people have questioned my sanity since, but ugh this book has kept me thinking like crazy.
In a nutshell, the premise is that a nanovirus is sent to a far off planet. This virus is supposed to speed up natural selection in apes; however, long story short, humans are dumb and everything technological is cut and the apes die. So many other species are infected, and spiders turn out to be the dominant species.
I know. It sounds crazy. But this was the best book I read all year. And you should read it. I don’t care who you are or what you like to read, you should read this. It changed the way I think, I swear. (Or at least led to me telling people about spiders a lot more commonly.) Oh, and it deals with linguistic relativity in a way!
MY NAME IS MEMORY/ANN BRASHARES
My friend texted me to meet him for dinner in ten minutes. Per my kindle app, I had twelve minutes left in the book. I got up, holding my phone with my kindle app open. I put on shoes, still reading. I walked over, still reading. Another friend arrived and tried to talk to me. “Don’t,” I said, still reading. “Just wait.” I finished the book. I slammed my fist down on the table. I burst into tears. “Wow, Em,” my friend said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cry.”
This book. I think the concept definitely carried it and the premise could have been stronger, but ugh, my heart. This is a love story truly, but also deals with the concept of souls and true love and connections. Again, the way the plot made me think and brought me fascinating concepts was unreal. It’s not for people who aren’t into romance or the concept of souls, but it was gorgeous.
This was an okay book, I thought, but nothing to write home about. Perfectly safe for me to open at midnight to fall asleep reading. Except I had to keep reading. And I had to keep reading. And oh goodness, okay, I’ll sleep at 3. I’ll close the book. Okay, maybe 3:30, I need one more chapter. Oh gosh darn it, I only have three hours left of this, I need to finish it. Who needs sleep?
Anything Westerfeld writes is sure to be good, but this was by far my favourite of his (although the Uglies series is my beloved.) Again, I loved this book more for its premise–it was two books in one, and the overall metaness was why I loved it so much. I wasn’t expecting too much–and in fact, it took me a few chapters to get into. But then I pulled an all-nighter because I couldn’t put it down. It was told in alternating chapters between two stories, and each always ended at a point where I had to read the next of that part until all of a sudden it ended. One story really was rather ordinary–good, but nothing novel–about a girl who survives a terrorist attack by slipping into the afterworld. The other is the story of the girl writing the book. Ahhhh! I wouldn’t recommend this one to everyone–I think maybe this was better because I want to go into the publishing industry so hearing all the minor nuances excited me, but I thought this was excellent.
Can You Keep a Secret?/Sophie Kinsella
With two roommates over summer, I picked a bad time to binge read everything Sophie Kinsella had wrote from my library because no author has ever made me laugh so much. This book makes the list and represents all her other books. I was lucky enough to see her speak in London in November, which only cemented her place in my list of favourite authors. So she writes chick-flicks, women’s fiction, rom-coms, whatever you want to call them. They are darn good and she is an incredible writer. Her characters are artfully written, easy to relate to and very human, but are also almost always strong and independent, with a lot of their own merits. Though the situations they end up in are ridiculously hilarious, there are subtle messages underneath.
This book was my favourite of them all, and I definitely had to stifle laughter in my pillow. The main character keeps a lot of secrets to present herself as a sane human being, but one day, she ends up drunk on a plane an tells them all to the guy sitting next to her. Of course, it turns out that he’s the CEO of the company she works for. Utter hilarity ensues. But really, any of Kinsella’s stand-alones are incredible. I’m less attached to the Shopaholic series, though it’s more popular.
And later that year, I confirmed to my roommate that I am crazy through a series of moans, laughter, freaking out, “NO, THEY CANNOT DO THAT,” “AHHH, WHY IS SHE DOING THAT,” “MAKE HER STOP,” and crying over the death of a character in its sequel who I thought would have made the best love interest. I am still angry at Terry over his death, may he rest in peace, though I will give no spoilers.
This was a dystopian trilogy. I’m getting pretty jaded with these and I’m hard to impress, but this was stellar. The basic premise was that the government had come up with a process for criminals under the age of 18 to have their minds and memories wiped so that they would have a chance to assimilate into society instead of spending a lifetime and wasting resources behind bars. Of course, however, once their mind had been wiped they had no way to know if this punishment had been just or not. I adored this trilogy to pieces and binge read them all in the span of 36 hours.
In a World Just Right/Jen Brooks
And this one just made me cry. Bawl. Oh goodness, how I wept. This one felt like a simple romance until about page 350 when the author threw in a TOTAL curveball that blew my mind and broke my heart and turned my insides out and gave me a new definition of mind-blowing. It was the small details in this book that tied it all together, and I realised these more at the end when I looked back at everything.
The premise of this one was that this kid can create alternate worlds and live in them, and in one this girl is his a girlfriend, but one day, he accidentally mixes up his worlds an everything starts changing as the two worlds seem to collide. It sounds harder to follow than it was, and I really enjoyed the various worlds and how characters changed based on circumstances.
“Ohmygosh! His wife is dead! He killed the driver! His friend is him! It’s his imagination! This is all in his book! He did it! No, she did it!” I must apologise to my friends who were sitting with me as I pulled my hair out over this book. I remember distinctly rocking back in forth on my chair as they talked about something unrelated and interjecting every five minutes with plot updates. Later, our group message turned into a soap box of me narrating the drama. I read a lot of mediocre crime fiction for my internship in the early spring semester, but this one was incredibly gripping and twisted my mind into a million different directions and really had me trusting no one.
Basically, this book is about a man with Alzheimer’s who one day confesses that all of the crime novels he wrote were real–he knows, because he committed all the crimes the characters committed. BUT DID HE? Dun dun dun. My only complaint with this book was that there was no romance, and I need my tiny thread of romance.
And two other books I’m still thinking about and have talked about at various times are The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alborn.