Hello. Today we will be discussing the second half of the books I thumbed my way through in September. You’re welcome.
OK listen Linda, for a fucking YA novel, this book fucked me UP. In in, we follow a 16-year-old girl, Mary, who has been in the system since she was 9 (I think?) for allegedly killing the baby her mother was caring for. Sprinkled throughout the book is information from her case files, interviews, etc. and it is so frustrating reading the trials and tribs of this clearly very intelligent girl who may or may not have killed a person, as she is clandestinely studying for the SATs while being knocked down every step of the way by the other girls in Juvie and also the fucking staff members who are, naturally, hateful and pathetic at their jobs.
This was actually more chilling than I imagined it was going to be and I found myself shouting ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME several times because Mary wasn’t likeable per se but she was written so well that I immediately felt super protective of her and was over here rooting for her until the end. This was a great, if not disturbing and depressing, book. BRB, I’m about to devour everything that Tiffany B. Jackson has written.
I finished an entire series this year! I didn’t think I would, but the Raven Boys cycle was pretty damn good, you guys. I have a disclaimer though: I didn’t really understand the actual plot, lol. “But Erin,” you ask, “isn’t that the whole point?” You would think! But I was SO INVESTED in every single fucking character of this book, you have no idea how much I loved them. Not quite Harry Potter levels of love, but Maggie Stiefvater really wrote so much life into these people, and….there are several love interests and one of them just kind of quietly happened and I was THERE.FOR.IT. Like, full-blown crying and cheering.
However, I really did find myself drifting off from time to time whenever it came to the thing that they were all there to do. So, as a series whole, I have to give that a 3.5 but the characters? Solid fucking 5. I will stan Gansey until the day I die.
(If you want to know about the plot, please just click the link up there because I’ll just be like, “I’unno. Raven King and magic forest, etc. Dreams & psychics. Whatever a ley line is.”
I mean, if you didn’t know who BTS is already, you sure will by the time you’ve made it past the first chapter. SO MANY BTS REFERENCES. Good lord.
All that aside, I thought this was a cute book with an important, body positive message, ESPECIALLY for Koreans. Man, have you checked out their beauty standards? Unattainable. So I loved that this book was about a Korean American who tries out for a kpop talent show in LA, like, “Look, I’m not skinny, but I can fucking sing and dance my ass off and you are going to give me a chance.”
I enjoyed it. And that cover gave me color palette inspo for the next room I redo in my house (sorry, Hen).
OH SHIT this book was incredibly uncomfortable and made me so happy that I met Henry when I was 21 and settled down early because I can 100% guarantee my life would have been as sexually reckless and awkward as Edie’s, a young Black woman in between jobs and about to be homeless who becomes embroiled in a relationship with a man who is in an open marriage, and then accidentally becomes kinda/sorta friends with his wife and somewhat of a Big Sister to their adopted Black daughter.
There were times when I was actually cringing because it was SO UNCOMFORTABLE, I had secondhand embarrassment. But what I really want to remember about this is that Leilani’s writing IS SO GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL. It made me jealous. Every sentence has purpose and punch. Her prose is brilliant without an ounce of pretension. You will laugh out loud at times and also have your breath taken away by her effortless poignancy. Raven Leilani is the real deal, and it’s hard to swallow the fact that this is her DEBUT NOVEL.
Get ready to be uncomfortable.
I have read a lot of translated Korean books this year and I think it’s safe to say that Korean authors are my favorites (I know, you are shocked). Almond is mean to be a YA book but I really think by American standards, it would be more considered adult even though it does follow a young boy, Yunjae, who was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia, which prevents him from being able to feel or process emotions like fear and sadness. It’s a very cold and chilling book, really, but it’s told from Yunjae’s POV, so it really should come off with no emotion.
At its core, this is a very inspiring coming of age story, but it has some really dark elements that reminded me of Korean dramas like Come & Hug Me and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.
Also, can we talk about how lovely this cover is?! I see all colors as potential wall hues now, sorry Henry.
I hated this. Pure and simple. Not scary, it dragged, I hated the setting, everything was so cold and drab, blah blah, didn’t care a single speck about any of these goddamn insufferable characters except for the dog.
Oh, what’s it about? I don’t know, a ghost story, apparently. I wasted so much time reading it that I don’t want to waste another single second reviewing it. Go read Peter Straub’s Ghost Story instead. I just might do that as a palate cleanser.
And that’s it! My 14 books from September. October is half over and I’ve already devoured some real good ones that I’m excited to gush about on here!