Some Things I Read in January

I’ve sort of been binge-reading young adult books lately.

It’s been easy to binge-read, because I’ve been going to the library again after years of not setting foot in one. I can read so much more when I don’t have to worry about paying for every book. Though, I hate not seeing my little personal library grow.

(A side note about the library: When did all the technology appear? There’s self-checkout, and you just throw your books on a scanner and it reads all of them at once, and you return them on this little conveyer belt thing. Has it really been THAT long since I’ve gone to the library?)

Anyway, I figured I’d make note of some of the YA books I’ve particularly liked:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart:

I love this book.

After reading the synopsis I immediately went to Amazon and read the first few pages. And I was hooked, just like that. Then I had to wait several long weeks before there was a copy available at the library.

It was the second chapter that really did it for me, Cadence’s description of her parent’s separation. I feel like no matter what happened in the rest of the book, that chapter would be incredible to me. I loved the twisted, retold fairy tales as well.

Also (mild spoiler), I hadn’t known there was supposed to be some sort of twist ending. So I wasn’t going through the book waiting for it, or trying to predict it. I’ve read some reviews that criticize the twist. I agree that if the book was standing on that alone, I wouldn’t be super impressed. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu:

Wow, do I feel like Jennifer Mathieu knows how teenagers speak. And act. And think. I felt like the characters in this book were spot on.

I always like books that switch between perspectives. I liked how the story in The Truth About Alice was given in pieces. Everyone had something to add and every time you read a new chapter what you thought was true changed slightly.

I also think that, with the exception of Kurt, the characters were sort of unlikable. But I don’t necessarily mean that as a bad thing. It didn’t make me want to stop reading. And, as I said, they felt extremely real to me.

Also (slightly spoilery), I appreciate how conflicted Jennifer Mathieu was able to make me feel about Kelsey. I really despised her. But, at the same time, I felt sympathetic, because she really had gone through some awful things. But as soon as I started to feel bad for her, she’d do something else to make me hate her. I guess the best I can say is that I disliked her, but I still understood the motivation behind everything she did.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher:

The thing that impressed me the most about Stolen was that it did the desert justice. As someone who grew up in the desert I couldn’t help but love Lucy Christopher’s description of it. Of course, she was writing about the Australian desert, not the Mojave. But still. It felt incredibly authentic to me.

Another great thing about this book was the way it handled Stockholm Syndrome. I felt like it was sort of sly. Over the course of the novel the main character, Gemma, slowly begins to identify with her captor, and the reader does right along with her. It sneaks up on you though. It’s a really great example of an author being able to put the reader in the shoes of the protagonist.

Also (spoilers ahead), I was happy with how it all turned out. Gemma did not fall madly in love with Ty. She didn’t save him in the end. They weren’t actually meant to be together. He was a kidnapper that, for a short time, Gemma found herself drawn to. I feel like it would have been so easy to make it into something else, and I appreciate that Lucy Christopher didn’t take that route.

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara:

I have less to say about this book than I do the other ones. I’m not entirely sure why, because it’s really fantastic.

This book is dark. Not dark in a twisty, edgy sort of way. Dark like it describes the grieving process in a way that’s so accurate that you feel like you’re going through it too. You’re in Wren’s head for the duration of the book, and that’s not a happy place to be. And the writing itself is really beautiful.


Through I mainly want to keep this young adult-centric, I do have to mention a non-YA: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I fell in love with the gloomy, gothic-ness of it. It helped that I read it during a very rare stormy week in Vegas. It’s a perfect curl-up-in-front-of-the-fire book.

So, that was some of my January reading. Now, off to the library so I can get started on the next batch.