Winter break is officially over and while I have been going stir crazy these last few weeks I’m sad to see it end because it means less time for reading. Like any other English major or book-loving college student I used the time to dig into my TBR list. I spend so much time reading for school (I hate you Virginia Woolf) I hardly have time to pick up something of my own choosing. While there’s plenty of assigned reading that has landed on my favorites list, it’s good to take a break and read things that are less dense.
Speaking of less dense, aside from my usual thriller and mysteries, I decided to look back at some YA series I never finished. I’ve moved away from Young Adult in the last 4 or 5 years, so I thought it might be a good time to revisit the genre. Some were a hit while others were a little less enthralling.
A Stranger in the House
My Rating: 3/5 stars
I decided to start out my winter reading with a thriller (of course). I found this recommendation via Goodreads (find me on Goodreads here!) You may have noticed Lapena’s other popular novel The Couple Next Door on the shelves of bookstores as well as the library’s bestseller list. I read it last year and liked it so much I decided to pick up her newest novel.
In A Stranger in the House, Karen Krupp is a normal suburban wife until she has a car accident on the “bad side” of town, and wakes up in the hospital with no memory of what happened or why she was there. Meanwhile, a crime has been committed nearby, and suspicion begins to point towards her. This book is full of twists and turns and will leave you wondering the entire time. Although it held my attention, I don’t believe it measures up to The Couple Next Door, but it was a good way to get warmed up 😉
The Killer Inside Me
My Rating: 4/5 stars
This book is another thriller and was recommended by a friend and some great Goodreads reviews. It’s definitely a step up from the first book I read on this list.
The novel follows Lou Ford, a deputy Sheriff in a small Texas town. He is beloved for his kind demeanor, regardless of his seemingly ignorant nature. Little do they know, surrounded by the crooks and thieves of the town, Lou has carefully crafted a public image that overlays the true psychopath that he is. In an effort to avenge his brother he leaves a bloody path in his wake, claiming the innocent and guilty alike.
This novel is fascinating and disturbing, as we are given a look into the mind of a serial killer. If you’re a fan of Caroline Kepnes’ YOU, it’s likely this book will become a favorite on your list.
Unbroken: A Ruined Novel
My Rating: 2/5 stars
This is the point in which my reading list takes a turn. I was at my local library and decided to visit the Young Adult section on a whim, and happened to see this novel on the shelf. I read the first installment Ruined when I was in middle school, and I remembered how much I had loved it and how it had set me on the path of mystery novels. I had no idea there was a sequel and decided to take a chance.
Boy was I disappointed. This book could be a stand-alone as it covers the protagonist, Rebecca’s, visit to New Orleans. Rebecca is able to speak to and see ghosts and is approached by a young man who died many years before while delivering a priceless locket. He needs Rebecca’s help to return it to the rightful owner so he can move on.
While the premise is interesting, the writing falls flat. I found there to be a lot of holes and thin explanations. It was much less interesting than what I remember the first one to have been, although I was 14 when I read it.
On to the next one!
Scarlet: The Lunar Chronicles
My Rating: 3/5 stars
This time last year I picked up the first installment in this series Cinder and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Now that I had time, I decided to check out the second book in the 4 part series (there seem to be companion novels as well).
The series is a loose (and fresh) retelling of classic fairytales. The first covered Cinderella, and this one was based on Little Red Riding Hood. It is set in a futuristic universe with cyborgs, a plague, and an evil lunar queen looking to bring the world under her grip by whatever force necessary.
I honestly wasn’t very impressed by this second installment as it focused on an entirely new character and left the ones from the first novel largely out of the picture for a while. It was slow moving and I had trouble focusing my attention on it or the desire to finish. I also found that it wasn’t exactly mature enough for me. Although I assumed that this would largely be the problem while reading YA as a 22-year-old.
This novel did not explore more complex issues (as to be expected) and I had a hard time really becoming invested. I’m still learning the “don’t waste your time on bad books” mantra, so I’m not sure if I will finish the rest of the series.
A Court of Thorns and Roses
My Rating: 5/5 stars
I have had so many people recommend this book to me, and I am so glad because I am seriously obsessed. I’m happy that I gave the first book a try because when I looked at the cover I expected more of the same of Scarlet. While the ACOTAR series is filed under YA in Goodreads, it is much more mature than most of the books you will find in that section.
I loved this series so much I can’t even begin to say. It is about a young woman, Feyre, who is fighting to survive poverty in a small village. One night while she is hunting and brings down a large wolf she learns it is an action that comes with a higher price than she could have ever imagined. Drug across the border to pay for her actions she is enveloped into a new world where faerie lore (yes you read that right) comes alive. She meets many strange and terrifying beings, but eventually her hatred begins to morph as she learns more about the land and the creatures that reside in it.
The CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. I am so so tired of the female characters in fantasy and YA having no development, no voice, and bending to the will of a man. I love this series because Feyre is allowed to make her own choices, have her own mind, and be a strong woman. Tons of YA (I’m looking at you Twilight) glorifies unhealthy relationships, but when it comes to the series as a whole we see the characters grow, shift, and change together and form relationships that allow them to be individuals in their own right.
Thanks to this series I have learned that YA doesn’t always mean shallow issues and paper-thin characters, but it can also encompass darker and more interesting problems as well. I’m definitely not saying this is high literature, but it is refreshing to read a novel in this genre that is empowering and not as sugarcoated as some others.
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