The reading tips this week is the stunningly brilliant The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is so, so important, a real eye-opener. It addresses the difficult, complex topic of systematic racism in a way that grips you and makes you understand by feeling, rather than being told, how this undergirds the everyday life.
The characters are absolutely real, with flaws and shortcomings, and all the complexity that comes with being human. The main character Starr is so bad-ass, smart, funny, adorable and brave in a real way; trying to stay true to herself and her believes while maintaining a balance between her two worlds (the poor neighborhood and the posh school on the other side of town).
I have to admit that it took me some time to get into the book and the narrating, but once I did it was impossible to put this book down. It was heart-wrenching, stirring, with a perfect balance of heartbreak and humor, telling the story about love, friendship, loss, grief and racism in a completely new way. Even though the book touches on difficult topics and there are some really sad parts in it, it’s not a heavy read. I can’t recommend it enough!
Oh, and I love the Fresh Prince in Bel Air references throughout the book, it was one of my favorite TV shows as a teen...
Find out more about the books and the author here: Angie Thomas
I love Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy so much and have had Warcross on my TBR list forever now. I was a bit scared though that I would be disappointed, having too high expectations, but boy I sure was not! I loved this book just as much - if not more - than the Legend series!
This book is fast paced, addictive, with fun and loveable characters and an amazing world-building. I loved the unique world that Marie Lu has created with the game play and how the in game and out of game worked so well and really drove the story on in such a fast and exciting pace. And the characters are amazing.
The main character, Emika, is a rainbow-haired electric skateboard-toting badass hacker and bounty hunter, how refreshing is that?! And the character development in the book was so good with the back stories on Emika and the other main character, Hideo, throughout the book. I also loved that the other characters were so diverse and simply accepted as they are; the captain of Emika’s team (and combat lead) was in no way hindered by the fact that he’s in a wheelchair, the majority were not caucasian and two male teammates have a past love story with an awesome sexual tension still underlying that I can’t wait to see the development of!
The only thing I didn’t like as much was the relationship thing with Hideo (in fact I didn’t really take to Hideo at all). But I guess that kind of was the point, considering the story twist at the end.
Find out more about the books and the author here: Marie Lu
I’m so happy, I’ve found a new favorite book and favorite author, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I love this book! It kept me up all night, I just couldn’t put it down. I love the way Rainbow Rowell keeps you in suspense. This is the complete opposite of insta love, you have to wait almost the whole book to find out if the two main characters love each other or hate each other, if they will end up together or if they will kill each other first. So good! And so mean to the reader, it makes the story completely addictive and deprives you of sleep... I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing style with all the different POVs and the fast pace and the way she entrangles the background story. And the world building and the plot and the characters. Alright, let’s face it, I love everything about this book!
Carry On is something of a fan fiction for Harry Potter. It is also a spin-off from Rainbow Rowells’ book Fangirl, where Simon Snow began his life as a fictional character. In the beginning it’s quite easy to pick out the similarities between Carry On and Harry Potter – Simon/Harry, all the things about being the “chosen one”, Baz/Draco, Penelope/Hermione, Watford/Hogwarts, the Humdrum/Voldemort etc - but this story very soon takes its own completely unique direction and it’s definitely not a rip-off of any kind.
This story is about Simon Snow (“the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen”), Baz (Simon’s roommate who “might be evil and a vampire and a complete grit”), Penelope (Simon’s best friend) and Agatha (Simon’s girlfriend who breaks up with him right from the start of the book). The story is told from all their different views, as well as from some more characters, and it’s written in a fast, witty style, that gives you all the information right from the start; who’s who, what they think and feel, their backgrounds. You also get the mystery part right from the start and then you can’t wait to read on to figure out how everything comes together –and most of all, will Simon and Baz end up together, or what?
I loved the characters so much (except for Agatha). Simon is so sweet and adorable. Rainbow Rowell did such a fantastic job to describe his struggle with himself, and how he’s definitely not perfect in any way, that I immediately took him to my heart. Penelope is badass, bossy, bold, smart and possibly the best friend ever. And Baz. Oh, I love Baz. He’s my favorite book boyfriend right now! I love that you didn’t know what to expect from him in the beginning, thinking that he might be the villain, a snobby bully, but how he develops through the story to this absolutely amazing, funny and wonderful person.
I also love Rainbow Rowell’s style of writing so much! Since it’s a standalone, the pace is very different from many other YA fantasy books and it’s much more quirky and fun. I love the way she constantly kept you guessing to what was going to happen next and how the mystery ran its course, but without actually being the main drive of the story. Instead it was the characters and their feelings and the dialogues that lead the story in such an amazing and addictive way.
The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it is a standalone, since I’d love to read more about Simon and Baz. I don’t feel like I’ve had anywhere near enough of them. They will always have a special place in my heart and I know I will keep thinking about them a long time ahead.
Find out more about the books and the author here: Rainbow Rowell
This reading tips is my favorite dystopian of all times, the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. It’s also my favorite Marie Lu series (I have yet to read Warcross though). What looks like a standard dystopian format at first glance is turned into something utterly fantastic. The character-driven story told from two perspectives, the commanding narrative and all the emotions, smart thoughts and creative world building makes this series completely unique.
I read this series a few years ago, and was totally spellbound. Now, writing about it makes me want to re-read them so much. I’m confident these books would succeed to meet the expectations once again. So far, I’ve have not yet read another dystopian that beats this series.
What makes it so special is the strong characters and the focus on their separate problems, not so much on the hero-parts. As for the plot, it takes place in what was once the western United States, but is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circels. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. So yes, the story does have a lot of the typical dystopian settings with an evil dictator, military control, and special, supertalented teens who protests against the roles assigned to them by a test, but the book is still very different from other dystopian stories. Marie Lu’s writing and the way the story was told made it feel completely unique. Mostly because of the amazing characters.
The story is told in alternating perspectives, from both June’s and Day’s point of views, which made you feel really close to both of them. I loved Day from the start. Even though he’s the most wanted criminal in the Republic, he’s sweet, kind and so lovable. June is more of the badass, trained warrior type suppressing her feelings. But as the story continues through the three books, she becomes more vulnerable and allows more of her feelings to have impact on her decisions instead of just blindly following the authorities, which made her grow on me. The Legend Trilogy is really the first series I’ve read where the boy and the girl are equals in every way and where the girl is allowed to be the tough, logical and not so empathetic action hero and the boy more of the kind, more emotional character. I love that!
I also love the way the love story develops and how the main focus was not really on the action plot but on the characters facing their own personal problems in the midst of the rebelling going on. The way June and Day struggle emotionally with their feelings, for each other and for the loss of their families, and the way their characters mature and grows during the story, made it very real and relatable. As the story develops, June and Day both have to choose who to trust more and where their loyalties lay. The guilt and grief they both have to deal with really made my heart ache for them.
I recommend this series with all my heart, it deserves all the buzz and more! It’s fast-paced, heart-breaking, compelling and utterly fantastic!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Marie Lu
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is a beautiful, gripping, sad and at the same time hopeful, book. This is a heartbreaking story in the best possible way. It’s one of those books that will stay with you and make you think about your own choices and the way you live your own life.
I was immediately intrigued by the title the first time I heard about this book. Was the title a spoiler by the author or would there be an unexpected twist? Obviously I won’t tell you as it would be a spoiler on my behalf, but don’t let the title and whatever happened in the book fool you. This is not a book about death, but about life; about living your life to the fullest, because it could be over any second.
It’s also a beautiful story about two strangers who meet and fall in love under the strangest circumstances and about becoming the person you want to be without fear and the opinion of others holding you back.
I loved the two main characters, Mateo and Rufus, so much! When we meet them, they are both about to receive a call from a company called Death-Cast, who can predict when people will die and calls them up on their last day letting them know that they have less than 24 hours to live. Via an app called Last Friend they find each other and end up spending the day together.
Despite their differences - Mateo is quiet, introverted and very anxious, and Rufus has a bad boy appearance, living in foster care, with a criminal history, but also as will soon be evident, with a heart of gold - they soon take to each other. Instead of a sad, miserable day, they find love and the courage to change. Mateo has more or less stayed hiding at home due to his anxiety, but with Rufus he gains confidence to conquer his fears and take on the world. Rufus on the other hand has lived life almost too much, acting out as a way of trying to silence the guilt, grief and loss from previous happenings in his life.
Even though the story is very sad and I often had tears in my eyes, this book also gave me so much hope and feelings of love and gratefulness. It was such a beautiful thing that on even on the worst day in your life, you can meet the one person that will change you and give you the courage to accept who you are.
I also loved the way the boys’ relationships with their families and friends are described. Especially Rufus, you can really feel how much his friends meant to him and how he would sacrifice his life for them if he could.
In the middle the book dragged a little. Even though the story is only about one day, the book is more of a slow read than a fast forward one, with perhaps a little too much descriptions of the things the boys did without any real purpose, like walking around town, eating food and singing karaoke. There are also this random chapters introducing new characters, which at first annoyed me slightly, but then really liked. It worked very well as a way of emphasizing that no person and no life lived is without importance. In total, there are around ten additional persons to Mateo and Rufus that gets a chapter each, or more, telling their story of living or dying on that same day. This gives the story extra depth and in the end, it was also clear that they more or less were connected to the larger part of the story.
Overall, I really loved this book and would recommend it to absolutely everyone, regardless if you like contemporary, YA or sad readings or not! This is truly a book that anyone will be affected by and start to rethink one’s own life after reading.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Adam Silvera
Hi! I'm Annie, a Swedish bookworm, YA addict and coffee lover, who writes romantic YA books in English. I'm the author of the Angelheart Saga series (First Came Forever and Forever Disguised).
I love YA books and want to share what I read with you too, so check out my reading tips here!
Below you can find the reviews per author as well.