Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Reading recommendations

I read a lot of young adult literature this year, mostly by chance but also because it was easy to get through on top of all the other reading I was doing for school. If you're looking for some easy reading, here are the books I've read along with what I thought of them.

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy - My friend Marie suggested these books, and they didn't disappoint. I mean, they're books for young adults, so of course I couldn't help rolling my eyes at the teen angst and feeling like I was taking an introductory course on dystopian societies (The political system is rigged! People are controlled with brute force! You're always being watched! Fences everywhere! Etc.). But for a preteen kid who's also full of angst and has maybe only ever read The Giver, it might be a good bridge between that and 1984.

Bottom line: Read these, because they are heartbreaking and exciting. If that doesn't do it for you, then read them simply because it appears that they're going to become a prominent part of pop culture, especially once the movies come out.

2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - I read this because I was enchanted by the trailer I saw online:

And you know, I didn't really like this book as much as I'd hoped. Old-timey photographs act as the driving force behind many parts of the story, and while some of them I feel add a nice touch to the characters or plot, it seems like others were forced in because the author thought they were the most awesome/creepy/funny photos he ever saw. The book ends in a sort of cliffhanger, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see a sequel or series, but if the author is going to keep up the photography gimmick I think the premise is going to get tired pretty quickly.

One thing I did like: the book attributes the 1908 Tunguska Event to some evil magic gone wrong, which I enjoyed because I always like it when fantasy storylines tie in an explanation of something that actually happened.

Bottom line: Meh, take it or leave it. If you really want to read it, I'll lend you my copy.

3. The Twilight Saga (Ugh, the word "saga." Ridiculous.) - These books are silly, and yet, so popular. And nothing bad really happens to anyone, ever. The brilliance of the writing (if you can call it brilliance?) is that Bella constantly ruminates on all of the bad things that could go wrong, which gets the reader's heart racing. And then, in the climactic moments when those bad things should happen, everything turns out just fine. And that's what everyone wants, right? But the truth is that it's much more satisfying if things actually go wrong and we have to watch our characters face the music.

While that doesn't happen in these books, there's still something interesting about the vampire community Meyer dreamed up. I guess that's what kept me going through all four books, even though the series lacks the overarching good-versus-evil/epic quest theme of other popular fantasy series. In my opinion, that's why people are so quick to roll their eyes at Twilight: it's all fluff and no real brain food to mull over once you've finished reading.

Just like the Hunger Games, these books suffer from teen angst and a silly teenage love triangle, but I suppose that's what has made them so wildly popular among teenage girls. Unlike the Hunger Games, they also suffer from terrible writing and a multitude of grammatical errors. (I'm sure you'll find plenty of errors in my writing, but then, I wasn't paid millions of dollars for it.)

Bottom line: Try them if you need a break from heavier reading, because they're mindless but entertaining. And for the love of God avoid the movies. They're terrible.

No comments: