1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.
The exquisite prose, Humbert Humbert as one of the best unreliable narrators in literature, the complete, brutal, unrelenting parody of the paedophile justifying himself to the audience while the story of the victim bleeds out through the cracks… I don’t know, man, this book messed me up. I’ve never read anything like it ever before.
2. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas:
Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?
This book nearly gave me a panic attack on several occasions – Haas has this extraordinary gift for slow-building tension until it becomes unbearable, and then just keeps going. Dear God. Another book which takes the unreliable narrator and turns it into an art form; I am too old and my heart is too weak for this, YA authors, okay. Also some of my other favourite stuff – complex female friendships with blurred lines between platonic and romantic, teenage girls as front and centre protagonists, a tightly weaved plot that twists and turns on you each time you think you’ve got it figured out…this is definitely one of the best YA novels I’ve read and more people should be crying about it with me.
‘I put you through hell and then I only made it worse, all the mistakes I made trying to get you back.’
‘I’ve forgiven you.’
‘Forgive, yes. Understand, yes. Forget, no.’
SOBBING ABOUT CLAY AND ELENA FOREVER. This is the last book in Elena’s arc and it is fantastic. Do you want the most perfect deconstruction of power dynamics in a relationship? Clay and Elena are here for you. How about a heartbreaking yet wonderfully sensitive, non-judgmental view of BDSM in a consensual relationship? Clay and Elena understand your needs. What about all those times Clay was kind of a jerk, making you wonder why Elena stayed with him *coughAmbercough*? Elena lays it out for you. Basically, this book is the perfect ‘goodbye’ to one of my all-time favourite female characters and it is so wonderful it makes me want to weep. That’s a lie, I totally did weep all over my pillows while reading it. Also, wolf pack! Women as leaders! Kelley Armstrong never being here for badly written romance!
4. The Absolutist by John Boyne:
And I have tried to forget him, I have tried to convince myself that it was just one of those things, but it’s difficult to do that when my body is standing here, eight feet deep in the earth of northern France, while my heart remains by a stream in a clearing in England where I left it weeks ago.
An accurate representation of me after finishing this book:
John Boyne deals with so many different themes in this frankly stunning novel. Through his characters he examines what it means to be a man, who gets to define masculinity and what happens to those men who don’t fit in. It’s also a very different kind of war novel because instead of an enemy on the other side of the trenches, it discusses the danger of a common mentality fed to a public by a war office, that men and women could be singled out in their own countries for believing differently than those around them. Above all, though, The Absolutist is a TERRIBLE, TRAGIC romance that stomps all over your heart relentlessly, leaving you curled up in a ball sobbing for days. It is about love, and unrequited love, and bitterness, and being gay in a world that is vastly homophobic, and how of all those things can tear up a person.
5. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson:
‘Roger, he has a chain saw,’ I hissed. ‘I am not going to die in Kentucky!’
Someday I am going to talk about how I secretly love road trip novels, that I love the idea of starting out a journey as someone different to who you are when you finish it. I love the freedom in the imagery; Amy’s feet on the dashboard, wind in her hair while Roger’s mix plays as they cruise down the loneliest road in America is a really great example. And the romance! Because road trips allow you to be whoever you want to be, and falling in love with the boy in the seat beside you (sobs about Dean and Cas) is just so swoonworthy. That’s right, I have a heart sometimes!
Also someday I am going to talk about how no matter how much you romanticize it, driving cross country to talk to a girl who so obviously does NOT want to be anywhere near you is the creepiest, clingiest shit ever. And demonizing her actions is also super uncool! You can’t invalidate her feelings for the sake of Nice Guy angst! I know this is a top ten favourites list but this is legit the only thing I cannot get on board with in this novel and I feel like I have to mention it because it is the creepiest ever. Minor rant over *breathes*
‘What if it lines up like it did in the Trojan War … Athena versus Poseidon?’
‘I don’t know. But I just know that I’ll be fighting next to you.’
‘Because you’re my friend, Seaweed Brain. Any more stupid questions?’
Serious business Golden Trio vibes all up in Percy and Annabeth; I love it so. Everyone ships them, right? Because duh. Also a story with heroes who have ADHD! Greek mythology! Snark balanced out with sweet moments! A great plot that builds with each addition to the series! And fantastic villains! Also let me tell you that reading this after The Secret History is a trip. Totally different depictions of Dionysus, super confusing in my head.
7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:
I was supposed to be having the time of my life.
Lauren says this is the most depressing book in the world, and she’s not really wrong there tbh. The Bell Jar is told from the perspective of a young woman battling with severe depression. It’s also considered to be a semi-autobiographical novel about Plath’s life; the similarities between herself and the narrator are easy to see. I love it though because it’s such an honest depiction of the pressures put on women that are internalized over the years.
8. The Prince of Mist (Niebla #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:
Whenever it poured like this, Max felt as if time was pausing. It was like a cease-fire during which you could stop whatever you were doing and just stand by a window for hours, watching the performance, an endless curtain of tears falling from heaven.
This book is legitimately scary, like seriously. It is a ghost story and a thriller and a mystery all at once, with a goosebump inducing villain to boot. Zafon’s prose is consistently fantastic throughout this novel and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next books in the series. I have the second one already so I’ll be reading that at some point this month hopefully.
So it is written – but so, too, it is crossed out. You can write it over again. You can make notes in the margins. You can cut out the whole page. You can, and you must, edit and rewrite and reshape and pull out the wrong parts like bones and find just the thing and you can forever, forever, write more and more and more, thicker and longer and clearer. Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten.
This third book in the series is as wonderfully weird as I knew it would be. September is no longer a preteen child but a teenager in this novel and as she grows the way in which she interacts with and understands the world changes. This to me is a novel about choice, about having the freedom to choose a path for oneself. I love that these books grow and develop alongside September so that with each book we read about the changes she is going through as she grows up.
10. Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge:
But scissors are really intended for one job alone – snipping things in two. Dividing by force. Everything on one side or the other, and nothing in between.
Sibling relationships! Creepy, creepy worlds! Magic! And most importantly: fabulous female characters! Cuckoo Song is equal parts sad and scary, and you know I am always down for that. Plus, sibling relationships that will break your heart and make you cry all over yourself, always fun! And grown-up girls who don’t conform, who deal with grief and loss in their own ways! I love everything about this book, okay.
Amber: *crawls out of the shadows* HI I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT MISTBORN BY BRANDON SANDERSON WHICH IT THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ ALL YEAR YOU SHOULD READ IT OK THANK YOU BYEEEEE