Last year sometime I created a list of my top ten anticipated releases of 2016, which wasn’t actually very conscious of many things coming out in the latter half. Nor was it conscious of literary fiction, in general. I decided to update the list based on things I’ve discovered since then. Until I made this list I didn’t realize how many good things are coming out, so I’m really excited!
Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publication date: February 2nd, 2016
Salt to the Sea tells the story of several refugees in World War II who cross paths and end up on a ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. It is based on real events, and a quick google of that ship will tell you why it is important and why Sepetys chose this subject, but that might fall into spoilery territory. It is pretty clear where this story will end up, however.
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication date: January 5th, 2016
Passenger is the story of 17-year-old Etta and her discovery of family secrets and her role in them. In the beginning of the book she is preparing for a performance (she plays violin) when something strange happens and she finds herself in 1770-something on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic. She has no idea what is going on and meets two people, Sophia and Nicholas, who know much more than she does. As she travels she learns about a family, the Ironwoods, who have a lot of control over people who can move through time (travelers). They want something from her, which ends up revealing some secrets about her mother and father. Etta, Sophia, and Nicholas have complicated relationships with the Ironwood family and each other, and at any moment it is difficult to know who to trust.
I’M ON A —ING DERELICT WARSHIP ON THE RUN FROM THE PSYCHOTIC CREW AND AN INSANE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TRYING TO SAVE MY —ING BOYFRIEND
Well first off, holy shit I’m writing a full-blown review for the first time in months, so let’s take a moment to think about that.
Moving on… It’s the end of the semester and seeing as I have (relatively) little responsibility over the next month I thought I would return to reading Illuminae. I got an ARC of this back in July but due to the nature of the format it was only available to read on the computer via Adobe Digital Editions. Not a huge fan of reading electronically, especially on a computer. I put it off for a while, started reading it in October and then put it on hold because A) it’s a fairly long book, and B) I wasn’t digging the whole computer reading situation.
I decided to return to this book today and whoops! my copy expires in one day! Good thing I decided to start reading it this afternoon.
Publication date: September 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary YA
Burn Girl is the story of a 16-year-old girl in Colorado who has lived a really rough life and had to grow up way too fast. At one point in the book I wondered if it should even be YA, but there were definitely familiar elements of the genre, and in the end Arlie was still a child.
Over vacation I read two contemporary YA books, and I decided to combine their reviews because I thought it would be interesting to compare them.
Saint Anything is the story of Sydney and her family who are trying to come to terms with her older brother Peyton’s criminal behavior. Growing up he was her hero and her parent’s pride, but in his teens he becomes involved with drugs and alcohol and ends up nearly killing someone when he drives home drunk. Sydney’s parents react very differently to this; her mother acts as if it’s all a project that she can organize, while her father becomes practically passive. Sydney decides to change schools to avoid gossip, and meets a family who takes her under their wing.
Since You’ve Been Gone is the story of Emily who has been left with a list of things to do when her best friend Sloane suddenly and unexpectedly leaves town. This list includes doing a lot of things that Emily has either never done before, or that she has chickened out on. For example, on the list is an entry called “Penelope”, which is the name on her fake ID. Sloane had given the ID to Emily to get into a 21-and-over concert, but she was too afraid to use it.
Of the two books I was the most pleasantly surprised by and would recommend Saint Anything. I could actually tell the characters apart in this book, and it had some really familiar situations and the characters showed a lot of growth. There was also a character named Ames who was a total creeper, and as a former teenage girl and current woman, I can say that guys can make us really, really uncomfortable (even without meaning to, which doesn’t excuse it). It’s just not a thing I would expect to find in a YA novel, or in many novels really, because it’s just something we are supposed to live with. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see it appear in this book because I think it shouldn’t be normalized.
The Chathams, including siblings Mac and Layla, were the family Sydney grows close to when she transfers schools, and I really liked all of them. Their mother has MS, which also was a realistic and surprising addition. Again, it’s always easy to overlook things like sexual harassment and disability as invisible, so I appreciated that Dessen included them in significant ways.
Since You’ve Been Gone lacked real conflict and I felt that Emily and pretty much all of the characters were rather privileged in a boring way. They all had lovely houses and parents who let them do what they wanted and while Emily was all sad that her epic summer with Sloane was messed up, she still managed to have a pretty good time working in an ice cream shop and finding a new boyfriend. Who, by the way, had a girlfriend at the time.
Also, is it like a thing in contemporary YA novels that the best friend must have a food quirk? Is that the established best way to give a character depth?
I gave both of these 3/5 on Goodreads, but Saint Anything is more like a 3.5 while SYBG was 2.5.
Publication date: September 1, 2015
So I didn’t have very high expectations coming into this book – I don’t know why, I just didn’t. But, I read it in a few hours and it almost made me cry, though it did require a little suspension of disbelief.