So, idealistic, resolution-making Jessica, if you are going to read more 2014 titles this year, where shall you begin?
Well, how about some new YA. You like YA, right? Right.
This particular round-up is heavy on authors I already like. Ms. Lockhart and Ms. Perkins are the only two I would consider “insta-buys” at this point in my particular reading life, but many of the rest have a celebrated book or two under their belts. If you are a debut-hunter, look elsewhere. Or at least wait around until I collect a list of ’14 debuts I find notable. It might not be too long of a wait.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Mr. Whaley’s debut novel Where Things Come Back won the William C. Morris Award, the Printz award, won Mr. Whaley a 35 under 35. It was also my #3 favorite book in 2011. Highly prestigious.
Noggin seems to be a bit weirder and more sci-fi than Whaley’s debut. Luckily, I have become a bit more amenable to the weird and sci-fi since 2011. Early reviews are favorable, and seem to indicate that the non-weird stuff is just as strong as the weird in this book. About decapitation and brain transplants. Or something.
It does look awful weird, guys. But that is really not going to stop me from giving it a shot.
Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
Moriarty’s Cracks in the Kingdom is the second installment in the Colors of Madeleine series. As of today, I am about halfway through A Corner of White. It was a little slow going. Moriarty has a very distinct style that I have trouble investing in. Her writing isn’t dense, it isn’t heavy, but it is awfully verbose and rife with little phrase-long, sentence-long diversions that you aren’t sure if you should be paying attention to. Instead of following one sentence to the next, plodding along, reading Moriarty feels a little like swimming in words.
I’ve read enough, though, to start to enjoy the flow, and to feel pretty sure I will want to read the second in the series.
Wow, this is sounding really wishy-washy. I will “give it a shot.” I am “pretty sure I will want to read” it. Man, oh man. Well, you see, I have contracted an upper respiratory infection of some sort. Please forgive me, readers. And books. As of this moment, I guess I cannot imagine giving anything much more than “a shot.” Maybe I will give a nap a shot later today. Or give a shot of Dayquil a shot. That sort of thing.
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Speaking of sequels… here is a book #3. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone but couldn’t muscle through Days of Blood and Starlight on audio. I am not letting that minor personal failing keep me from getting hyped for Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I just have my work cut out for me now.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Aaaaand speaking of weird scifi follow-ups to works of contemporary realism…
Grasshopper Jungle sounds a little too weird even for me. However, everyone I know who has read it has supplied eloquent, well-reasoned, and overwhelmingly positive reviews. Like, “WOW SO GOOD” and “READ THIS NOW” and “ANDREW SMITH IS A GENIUS.” So yes, I am intrigued enough to read a book about “an army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises.”
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
A ballet book. Much more up my alley. This one seems to have all the required elements of a ballet drama – the perfectionism, the eating problems, the inappropriate love affairs – but is also about kidnapping and abduction! Oh my!
I have to say that I approve of the recent uptick in ballet-type YA books over the past few years… but I don’t think I’ve actually finished reading many of them. I don’t know. Maybe the writing just wasn’t there? Maybe this will be the book that changes my mind. If not, I can just watch Center Stage for the zillionth time I suppose.
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
And speaking of William C. Morris follow-ups, Jenny Hubbard’s first novel, Paper Covers Rock, was a runner up to Whaley’s Where Things Come Back. Good to see two Morris finalists putting out promising follow-up novels this year. I really enjoyed Paper Covers Rock, which was a moody boarding school book about carelessness and masculinity and friendship I found pleasantly reminiscent of A Separate Peace. And We Stay is another boarding school story, but with a female protagonist and told with prose and verse. And is also about Emily Dickinson, who I think is the hot YA literary reference of the moment, (replacing Walt Whitman, I believe).
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I am just going to take every opportunity I have between now and May to remind you about We Were Liars. If you don’t mind. It is very good. Please add it to your to-read list. The end.
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Please don’t remind me how long we have all been waiting for a new Stephanie Perkin novel. It will send me into a fit. Not that Ms. Perkins doesn’t deserve ALL the time in the world… do what you do, lady, please! However, it has been positively ages since Lola and the Boy Next Door, and 2014 is the year! Yippee!
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
The older and wiser I get, the more I’ve realized that…. I just really love a good book cover. This one is good. Real good. If you were to create a book cover specifically to push all of my personal buttons, this is it.
I know, I know. Bad librarian. But there is just something about a book cover, you know. I did start reading an e-galley of this title last week and it’s about 75% more RPG heavy than I thought it would be. But I’m okay with that. I mean, I did like The Other Normals. And its cover was only so-so!
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Last but not least, another Morgan Matson. I liked Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour an awful lot. Second Chance Summer was slower, but still made me weep while riding public transportation. Ms. Matson is not quite an “insta-buy” author, but definitely an “insta-put-this-book-on-hold-at-the-library” author. Oh, and also a “make-damn-sure-the-library-buys-this-book-in-a-timely-manner” author.