Day 9 of this respective challenge (and I think I’m caught up to speed now), and it’s asking me what books I didn’t think I would like, but ended up loving. I’m choosing six for this respective list, with my explanations under the cut. I had a previous draft of this post, but it got lost when my power surged and my computer cut off. =( Sadness. I don’t mind starting from scratch because I remember the books I’ve chosen, but it still gutted me because I had a lot to say about each of these books.
I’m going to start by highlighting two books I’ve read in the scheme of New Adult. Many of you know that I’ve had the worst luck reading New Adult this past year. I did nearly quit the genre after reading RaShelle Workman’s “Touching Melody” because I thought I would never come across a NA story that didn’t overdo the violence, sex, and glorify problematic elements in a non-realistic way. I swallowed my qualms and decided I would try a few more age group picks, one of which was Katja Milay’s “Sea of Tranquility.”
Reading “Sea of Tranqulity” blew me away in a measure I totally wasn’t expecting. Nastiya and Josh were compelling characters that I couldn’t help but follow and while there were some flaws in the narrative and things that bothered me, I really appreciated the level of the writing and the overarching journey through the story. Milay does a great job establishing the motivations of the characters.
Similarly, Rebecca Donovan’s “Reason to Breathe” impressed me as well. There’s a lot that happens through the narrative that’s emotionally heavy, but I got it, and I appreciated the expansion. It helped that “Reason to Breathe” had a very strong audio narration that I ended up loving as I listened to it. Overall, these are two books that I would undoubtedly recommend in the genre, and wish more NA authors would take notes from in terms of how to deal with some of the tougher issues the stories touch upon.
“Breathing Underwater” by Alex Flinn shocked me. At first I didn’t think I would want to read about a selfish jerk of a boy who abused his girlfriend, but when I picked this up in audio form (narrated by Jon Cryer, I might add), I was surprised by how this story sucked me in. I really felt for the main character, though I didn’t like the actions or route he took. Flinn did a great job of making the character sympathetic despite the things he’d done, and there’s a palpable grief and remorse for what the MC does in this narrative. I thought Jon Cryer did an excellent job narrating this book. I rank the story among my favorites for its subject matter, though admittedly, it’s tough to listen to.
Ben Mikhelsen’s “Touching Spirit Bear” was another with the “bad boy” main character I didn’t think I would like as much as I did going into it. But it also became a favorite story of mine as it shows a bully who nearly beats another boy to death, and has to be sent to Alaska as a part of a program for reform. Things change in the life of the MC when he’s nearly killed by a “spirit bear” and it changes his whole outlook because he realizes just how much his anger gets out of control, and it focuses on his issues and reform. It’s a great story, I haven’t had a chance to read the sequel story, but it was far more emotionally jarring than I thought it would be going into it.
“Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, I’ll admit I almost completely missed out on because I’d read many opinions on the book and it swayed my opinion to the point where I thought I wouldn’t be able to get into the narrative. But I decided to try it when I got a galley of it. Ended up being among my favorite narratives of the year. I loved the attention to the historical backing, the narratives of the girls themselves were powerful, and I’ll admit it even made me a bit misty eyed for events.
Lastly – I’ll definitely admit I didn’t think I’d like “Before I Fall”. Lauren Oliver’s writing, on the other hand, really impressed me, and there was an emotional rollercoaster here that I didn’t think was possible, especially given the actions and attitudes of the main character to start. But as she begins reliving each day with the possibility to change the course of events and understanding the weight of her role in things, I really felt for her and enjoyed the overarching narrative.
That’s all for today’s prompt. So tomorrow, I’ll be on schedule with the next prompt. Happy reading all!