The summer holiday is the perfect time to catch up with the ‘to be read’ (TBR) pile that I have mounting up on my desk. 2017 has been a great year for fiction and I went into the holidays looking forward to spending my days reading excellent books. Doing this helps me find authors that I want to visit the school. This week I want to highlight three of the best books that I read.
The Call by Peadar O’Guilin
The Call is a fantasy novel set in modern day Ireland. No longer able to contact the rest of the world, Ireland is in the grip of terrifying situation. Children between the ages of ten to seventeen are being called to another realm to be hunted down. The call to the Grey Land is deadly with only one in ten surviving. The novel focuses on the experience of Nessa, a teenager who faces tougher odds than most of her friends.
I really enjoyed this book and you might have noticed that I have tweeted about it several times already and will continue to recommend it for those who enjoy fantasy, YA, or anything with a strong female protagonist. What makes it stand out to me is that the lead character, Nessa, is disabled. Representation of disabled people is not that common in YA and it is great to have a character that is disabled but also strong, resilient, and capable. I particularly liked the fact that she is not defined by her disability and that she has other characteristics that make her stand out. I also liked the pacing of the book. The world building elements were interesting and informative, the action sequences were engrossing, and O’Guilin made sure that there was space to reflect on everything that was happening.
I would recommend this book to those who have enjoy books by Sarah J. Maas, Naomi Novak, and YA dystopias. I understand that there is going to be a sequel and I for one cannot wait.
Solitaire by Alice Oseman
This book ended up on my TBR pile because lots of students had recommended it to me and I’m really glad they did. Solitaire was published when the author Alice Oseman was 19 (something that students here have found aspirational) and is an excellent YA debut. Tori Spring has just started year 12 and is looking forward to spending the school year with her friends and updating her blog. However, after a strange message directing her to find a blog, and a chance encounter with a boy called Michael Holden, her year doesn’t go entirely to plan.
I found Solitaire to be an engaging read. The mystery surrounding Solitaire and their pranks made me race through the book as I was desperate to find out who was behind it all. But for me the best part of the book was the way in which Oseman writes her characters. I found that I really cared about them and when I finished the book I wanted to know what happened to them afterwards. Luckily, there are several novellas about the characters and a webseries about Nick and Charlie. Solitaire does not shy away from looking at teenagers with mental health issues. There are characters with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. These are treated carefully by Oseman, and the book provides reflection on how these affect teenagers and the importance of strong support networks.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Holly Bourne and E. Lockheart.
The Fandom by Anna Day
Before I get into a review of The Fandom I feel that I should note that I have read an uncorrected proof. The Fandom will be published by Chicken House in January 2018. I received a copy of this at YALC and will be making sure that the Library has a copy as soon as it is published.
Violet is a huge fan of a book called The Gallows Dance. This book was turned into a film series and has a rabid following. Violet, her brother, and two friends go to London Comic-Con to meet with the stars of the film and during an accident are magically transported to the book itself. Violet finds herself taking over the lead role of the novel. Now she is responsible for the fate of the people that she loves, and the characters in the novel.
I loved this book and I am sure that it is going to be released to a lot of attention and praise. I raced through the book in one sitting and have raved about it ever since. It’s a YA book about YA and its fans. I’ll be recommending it to students who love YA, Harry Potter, and fantasy/dystopia.
I’ll be posting more book reviews on the blog. Please let me know if there are any books that you’d like to see reviewed. The photos will get better too.