Young Adult Novels I read in January 2018 – Reading Wrap Up

I read about nine books this month which is…. too much to do in one wrap. I posted my comic wrap up earlier this week, and I read about five young adult novels and four adult novels, so this post will be covering just the young adult novels so I don’t have to end up writing a…… novel.

  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
    • Rating: 2.75/5
    • Thoughts: this was the first book I finished in 2018 and hooo boy I have….. incredibly mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand it’s fun. The mystery isn’t incredible, but it keeps your attention well enough, and characters aren’t terrible. But I can’t say I was very happy with a lot of the choices the author made in making a YA Sherlock Holmes where Holmes and Watson are teenagers and Holmes is a girl. First off, it reeks of compulsory heteronormativity. The two main characters being of opposite gender seems to really try and push home the point that there could be some kind of ~romance~ now unlike every other iteration which is just…. Bad. It’s trying to build this romance from the very beginning that I am just Not here for because it so much relies on you linking them as a Holmes and Watson instead of any chemistry the character may have themselves. Which is… paltry.  Second, I cannot say I especially enjoyed some of the choices the author choose to make in making Holmes a girl. Some pretty shocking things happen which honestly came off pretty poorly in the context of making Holmes female. There are also some pretty heavy discussions of sexual assault here, and while not handled entirely offensively, are also not handled well at all. I don’t know if I’ll pick up the next in the series. It was okay, but I disagree with a lot of the creative decisions.
      HONESTLY, Just watch Elementary man it does this premise way better.
    • Content warning for: discussions of sexual assault and rape

  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Thoughts: yeah that’s right I’m saving the most unpopular opinion to below the cut. I did enjoy a LOT of this book. The characters are compelling, the world is so vivid and interesting, and the prose is something else. I do not think I’ve read another YA novel that has such a good voice and visual style as this book does. And the build up! It’s absolutely phenomenal. The first 75-80 percent of this book is a 5 star read! And then…. I the last 20-25 percent of the book happens.
      Listen I get it. I’m old as balls and it takes a lot more than a furtive glance and a blush for me to give two craps about the relationship between two characters. And for an insta-love relationship, it wasn’t terrible at the beginning! I was really enjoying how they got to know each other and how they found strength and acceptance! And then it just…. that’s it. That’s all it turned to. What happened to my mystery and adventure! What happened to all the other characters I grew to love! It’s just a lukewarm romance by the end. It’s all consuming in a really really bad way. Taylor’s phenomenal fantasy writing felt absolutely wasted.
      Also like. Spoiler alert the ending was bad! The twists were bad! I hated how it ended! It was not good! I want to read the next book but like…. I’m still mad guys. If you like romance like go ahead and read this, but if you’re mainly in it for good fantasy with also like. a good romance then maybe slow your roll on this one.
    • Content warning: for discussions of sexual assault and rape
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

    Rating: 4.75/5

    • Thoughts: I know I spent the last two entries complaining about the romances but GUESS WHAT I have no complaints about this on. I barely have any complaints about this book. It is SUCH a fun historical fiction romp. Laugh out loud funny, endearing characters and some SOLID representation on all sides. I could not put this book down. And the romance! It had me in fucking tears I NEEDED this book after dealing with the first two YA books. The amount of historical research Lee does really does show — there’s a part at the end of the book where she discusses the historical aspects of the novel that were AMAZING. Heads up, there’s some pretty intense discussions on homophobia, emotional and physical abuse, racism and ableism in this novel. It’s all discussed and addressed fairly well and also helps lend to surprising amount of poignancy. I do have some problems with some of the character interactions, and some of the issues I have don’t get resolved as well I would have hoped , but otherwise this is a fantastic novel. Read this is your looking for a good LGBT focus romance that has some fun! And has a wonderful, satisfying ending.
    • Content warning for: Discussions on physical and emotional abuse and child abuse
  • Small Steps by Louis Sachar
    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Thoughts: I remember when this book first came out, as a resident Holes/Louis Sachar fanatic (honestly, what cool kid WASN’T holes and wayside story are hella dope), I wanted to pick up this book SO BAD. Well I did it! Around…. 11 years later, but still! And it’s not as good as Holes, but it’s still pretty good! It’s a lot more emotional and moving then I expected it to be. Maybe a little bit less funny too, but I imagine with the turns that the story takes it doesn’t really make a ton of sense to have this be the pinnacle of comedy. Theodore is a solid main character, and you really empathize with his struggle to be a good person AND be treated with the respect he should deserve after all that’s happened to him. The side characters are fun too. Some of the plot goes a little off the rails, but it’s a solid Middle grade/young adult read. I think I would have definitely enjoyed this more if I was younger, but that doesn’t make it bad at all. I’m not African American, so I can’t say much on the accuracy of the representation. I didn’t notice anything glaring, and I haven’t seen much discussion about any problematic elements online, so take that with a grain of salt.
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

    Rating: 4/5

    • Thoughts: BOY this is a tough read. I know the synopsis isn’t really cheery, but the book goes in some really tough directions. Not in an offensive or bad way – more like at times I had to put the book down and really just…. think on it. It takes a long while for the book to get going, the first third of this book moves at almost a painful pace, but afterwards it kind of snowballs into a really intense, really moving novel. It really surprised me how many issues this book confronts and tackles, and does so fairly well. Since I’m not latinx, so I can’t say anything about the representation, but this is an #ownvoices novel and I’ve read positive things about the rep from a couple of latinx reviewers, so the representation seems pretty top notch. There is a gay character that the MC doesn’t treat very well at the beginning, which was kind of a turn off, but there’s a brief discussion about it and she does change for the better. I still have to say the beginnings of it bothered me enough to mention it here. If you can get through the beginning part of this book, stick through til the end. It gets really really hard, but it comes out on top in the end.
    • Content warning: Discussions of suicide, rape, sexual assault, and physical assault. (The stuff about suicide really got to me on this one so proceed with caution).

Whew! Had a lot more to say about these than the comics! Maybe because disliked more of them than I thought???? Oh well. I’ve got one more wrap up to write then I’m radio silent for another month.

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