My Top 5 Books of 2017: Mid-Year Version
Posted on 20 July 2017
Hello there. Today, we've got a new post for you. I will be making a list of the top 5 Books/ series that I read this year. These books may or may not have been released this year.
Also, a word of warning: I am a very critical reader and tend to have strong views (both like and dislike). You may or may not agree with them so please be respectful.
I endeavor to keep the reviews spoiler-free but they might include a spoiler or two.
1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas: I'd count the whole series as the best series I've read this year (and in the last ten years) but ACOMAF was my favorite book this year. It's probably the best YA book I've never read. The amazing character development, the feels, the fantasy, the story....everything was spot on.
After A Court of Thorns and Roses, I didn't know what to expect. I loved that one so much that I went out the very next morning and bought ACOMAF. I was blown away by ACOMAF and finished reading it the very next day. Sarah J. Maas took the story to a completely new level with this book. I haven't experienced so much excitement and giddiness while reading a book in a long time. She's one of my favorite writers now.
This is one of series that was totally worth the hype for me. If I had to put a finger on the strongest element of this series, I'd say it's the romance. YA and NA romances are notorious for being shallow but there was nothing shallow about the romance in this one. Extra points for sex-positivity. Most importantly, the romance isn't a sub-plot but ties pretty neatly into the main plot.
The 'fantasy' here comes more from the romance than the world-building. Now, don't get me wrong, ACOMAF has all the world-building and magic you'd expect in a fantasy but that's not what stood out to me. I was surprised by how well SJM handled the romance in this series. It was mature especially for a YA series but being a rabid romance reader, I loved it. Most books relegate romance to a sub-plot and even that is a drag. Not to mention how many YAs have an obligatory love triangle. This book suffers from none of those vices.
Feyre's character development was also very good in the second book.
Just go read this series.
- Strong romance: well-done
- Good character development
- Strong characters
- Decent world- building
- You may not like this if you're not a fan of romance in YA books. I'd rate this book way higher as a romantic fantasy than as a generic fantasy.
- Not a plot-oriented book.
- Slow starter (the first book moves only after the 200th page)
- Might be long for some readers (it's more than 200k words).
2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: This book came out last year but I read it this January. This is another one of those books that overturned my expectations. I thought The Hating Game would be a chick-lit in the style of Sophie Kinsella but it's more of a romantic comedy. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it turned out to be a full-on romance.
But what I loved the most was the humor. I was laughing on every page. I originally thought the author was British (because of her sense of humor) but she's Australian. Sally Thorne does a great job of mixing romance into the plot in a believable and comedic way. If I had to compare, Sally's writing reminds me a lot of Julie James who is one of my favorite authors. If you like romantic comedies, give this one a shot. I can't wait for her next book.
- Easy to read
3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I don't know why I've never gotten down to reading this series. Now that I have, I know why it's so popular. Firstly, I'd say the romance in this book is non-existent. But, considering it's a sci-fi fantasy, not romance, I'm not going to hold that against it. Cinder is probably the most creative book that's come out in a while. It's a Cinderella retelling set in Neo Beijing, a futuristic Beijing where cyborgs live.
For me, what stood out the most was the world-building. Marissa Meyer does a good job of making the reader feel like he/she is present in Cinder's world. The idea of the Lunar Kingdom, the evil queen and Prince Kai, though not wildly original, was well-executed. I was surprised by how the author used those seemingly derivative elements to weave an imaginative story. Cinder is the most creative book I've read in the YA genre in a long time. These days, most books are obvious derivatives of The Hunger Games and invariably feature a Dystopian world.
Another big plus of this book was how short it was. Most YA books run over 100k+ words and nothing useful happens in the first 50-100 pages (another disturbing trend). So, I admire Marissa Meyer for keeping the book short and to-the-point.
Can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the books in this series.
- Excellent world building
- A+ for Creativity and imagination
- Good execution
- Short: doesn't require much time-commitment and doesn't drag needlessly. (~87k words)
- Thin on plot
- I know some people didn't like the protagonist but I thought she was okay.
4. Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo: To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of this series but compared to everything else I read this year, it was better quality. The strongest element of this series was the humor. Leigh Bardugo's writing style is a little intense for me but she writes so much funny dialogue to break the monotony.
The characterization is another strong feature of this duology. I loved Kaz and crew. Kaz and Nina were my favorite characters. Nina gets extra points for being sex-positive. Wylan grew on me in the second book.
If you like diversity in your books, then you'd like this one. The diversity in SoC Iis well done doesn't feel forced or obligatory.
What I didn't like was the romance.
I liked Nina and Mattias' romance but the other two romances felt more obligatory than necessary.
Back to the review:
As a reader, I expected the plot to be more complex, i.e. I expected it would have at least one major plot twist/ reversal. However, the plot was linear and predictable with no surprise elements. The action scenes drag sometimes, especially in the first book and action is very difficult to visualize in a book. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of the plot and action scenes in this series.
That being said, there are a lot of people (including my sister) who love this book to bits. Give it shot if you like action/ adventure YA books with strong characters and humor.
Pros (might contain slight spoilers):
- Humor, humor, humor.
- Very good characterization
- Good dialogue
- I liked Nina and Mattias' love story
- Diversity: well done
- Leigh Bardugo's writing style. It's too intense for me. There are too many words on one page. She even writes descriptions in metaphors which takes too much brain power to interpret.
- Obligatory romance sub plots.
- Long: Time-commitment (Both books are 140k words+ but they don't drag)
- No major plot twists (Yes, this is a con because a YA book that isn't predominantly romance needs a complex plot to hold the reader's interest.)
- Low on feeling- didn't create any strong feelings in me as a reader
5. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover: This book came out last year but I read it this year. Firstly, I'll say I'm not a fan of Colleen Hoover's previous works (I know, everybody else is!). I've read Confess by her and didn't like it. Now, CoHo is a great writer but she's just not for me. Why? Her books contain the one thing I hate the most- angst.
That being said, this book was a force to be reckoned with. Why did I like this book? Because it was feminist. Compared to most of NA books these days, It Ends with Us is potent and stands out. The strong feminist message of the book was what stood out to me. Collen Hoover does create strong emotions of angst and hatred in the reader and this time, for the right reasons.
I was also very happy to see how much CoHo has progressed as a writer since her first book. She keeps getting better with every book, which is the sign of a good writer.
It Ends with Us is not a 'fun' book. It's a heavy book. It starts off as a romance but transforms into women's fiction. It's heartbreaking to see what follows but that's where the depth of this story lies. I read this book in one sitting and it elevated my opinion of CoHo significantly; so much so that I'm eagerly awaiting the release of her next book.
- Feminist theme
- Not a romance
- A departure from her previous works
- Might not be for everyone- mature themes
- Not a romance/ Different from her previous works (if you liked her previous books)
That's it for today. What are your top 5 favorite books? Let us know in the comments.