Young Adult/Middle Grade books I read in April 2018

After the beginning of this year, I’m trying to pick up a bit more YA/Middle grade novels. Mostly just as a respite between some of the really intense books I read – I’ve got a couple doozy’s to talk about when we get to the adult section. And for the most part, I enjoyed the books I picked up. I’ve got a caveot for one, but we’ll get to that at the very end.

  • Want by Cindy Pon
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! This is a fun kind of dystopian/scifi with a pretty standard pro-enviromental and anti-capitalist plot (hell yeah). What really makes this something a bit special are two things: The way this author writes Taipei and the two main characters – Jason and Daiyu. In a lot of books, the setting is either incidental or feels like something plucked out of thin air and tries cramming it into a piece in order make it have some feel of authenticity. Pon exceeds at writing the setting of this novel better than a lot of other books I’ve picked up in a long time. Taipei is beautiful and real – I can feel the love and care the author put into making the setting both important to the story, and a place that the reader can experience. The characters in this book are pretty standard – while the side characters are hella cool, they fall into a problem I feel like a lot of other ensemble cast books do – cool but not actually present enough to leave a deep impression. Jason and Daiyu on the other hand, are pretty dang awesome. I was really interested to see where their story went, and to learn more about them. I think this book works well as a standalone, but I’m curious to see what the sequel will be like.
    • Also I kinda loved the whole the rich are called you’s (有 or to have) and the the poor are called mei’s (没 or not). It’s clever okay.
  • Wild Magic By Tamora Pierce
    • Rating: 3/5
    • Thoughts: Tempest and Slaughter came out recently, and I figured it was about time I pick up the first book in the last tortall series I have yet to read any from – the Immortals series. And once again I’m struck with an odd probably unpopular opinion…. that SO FAR the Immortals series may be my least favorite – mostly because I don’t find Daine as compelling of main character as I did Alanna, Kel, Ali or Bekah. I felt like while the other protagonists had both external and internal struggles, Daine’s seemed almost entirely internal. Which in of itself would be fine if I felt like she…. actually struggled at all. There are points in this book that seem to go out of their way to make stuff for Daine as easy as possible which is incredibly infuriating. It’s not like the characters aren’t solid – a lot of them are cameos from the song of the lioness series, and most of the new characters are cool. But I’m just really not…. into the story that’s been set up so far, nor am I super into Daine? I think this may just be a super weak start compared to the rest of the tortall series, so I will still be picking up Wolf Mage eventually. I’m just kind of… disappointed I guess. Maybe I should have read this series before picking up protector of the small series , haha

  • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Thoughts: This is a pretty fun wlw fantasy ya novel! You should DEFINITELY pick this up if you’re tired of that straight shit in fantasy YA. Though I still have a problems with some of it – the pacing in this book is all over the place – at points it feels super slow and aimless. Other times its going a mile a minute and I’m left feeling kinda lost. I think the build up between the two main character’s romance was a bit stilted as well, ranging from slow and meaningful, to sudden leaps in character progression being completely glossed over. I did really like their romance, but I was expecting it to have a bit more build up than I got. I feel like people kind of just changed suddenly without shifts actually being written in the actual novel. Despite all of that though, magic systems in this book were really interesting to see, along with the rest of the worldbuilding. And you really did root for both the main characters and the couple throughout the book.
    • Also full disclosure – I LOVED one of the protagonists and didn’t much care for the other protag. She was super dismissive of the other protag throughout like half the book and was incredibly not-understanding of just about anyone else’s situation. And it took her FOREVER to be like ‘gee wait maybe…. things are more…. complicated????’ I was so mad.
    • Though I still rooted for them and almost cried tears of joy when they kissed in front of a crowd for the first time.
  • The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Thoughts: Another full disclosure – I bought this book initally because the cover is GORGEOUS. And I don’t regret picking it up! The writing style in the book is beautiful – it’s so chilly and biting, but somehow dreamlike and contemplative – perfect for the kind of Russian fairytale the books going for. I also do really love the characters – they’re a lot of fun. Where this book really falls flat is the story. It falls into a lot of meandering kid book syndrome. What interest is built up in the first few chapters is quickly lost after the book goes on one too many tangents. I don’t regret reading this book, but I don’t know how eager I will be to pick up any other works by the author.
  • Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
    • Rating: N/A
    • Thoughts: I got about 70 percent of the way through this book before I had to put it down. I really enjoyed what I read of it, it’s a solid YA novel which resonated with me a lot. It just… this book has a lot of discussion about anixety and depression, and for some reason, this book really got to me. I felt like I was in the middle of a panic attack the last two days I tried to pick this book up. I usually really hate not finishing books, but I just…. I had to put this one down and put some distance between it. I don’t plan on picking it up again anytime soon, so I felt like I needed to add it to the wrap up. It was good for what I read though!

Whew alright, that wraps up the YA portion. Get ready for a ton Feels when we get to the adult section – I read two books that are probably some all time favorites at this point, so there may be a lot of gushing. and crying. you know the drill.

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