Identical by Ellen Hopkins - Written entirely in free verse poetry, this book wins the award for thoroughly surprising me at the climax. I haven't been blown away by a book on both an emotional and intellectual level in a long time; it makes me really respect the author and how she approached this book.
Looking for Alaska by John Green - I wasn't surprised by this book as much as I was entranced. Having previously read An Abundance of Katherines, I was expecting it to be much funnier; but I enjoyed it anyway.
Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead - I will be the first to admit this isn't classic literature, but for reasons beyond me I find one or two of the characters captivating enough to keep me reading into book four of this six part series. It is definitely teenage melodrama, but fun and fast to read with some interesting twists.
Speaker of the Dead by Orson Scott Card - I rarely read more than a page of a prologue because I would much rather read the book and am afraid of spoilers or hints; but when this one said it was meant to be the first book in the Ender series, I read it with different eyes. I enjoyed and was challenged by Ender's Game a week or two ago and so sought this out to see what else happened in this universe. I was pleased to see both renewed and fresh themes. It reminded me of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, but less graphic and more invested in building multiple characters.
The Giver by Lois Lowry - I avoided this book from the time it first came out and was touted at my elementary school book fairs because of the creepy looking guy on the cover and because I kept confusing it with Gary Paulsen's The Winter Room; which I read maybe one or two chapters of and could never continue. As the book went on the author seemed to either have run out of time or lost their voice ... I can't explain how I feel about this one yet except to say that it is bewildering. Tone and structure are well employed and then ... nevermind. I can't say anything else without giving it away. It's considered dystopian (which I learned tonight is apparently the opposite of utopian) but to me it just seems like a more bearable version of postmodern literature. Am going to try the next book in the "series" (same time frame, different place and characters) to see if my theory about the actual writing pans out when compared to other pieces by the same author.
The Fault in our Stars by John Green just became available for me through the digital library and then I've got more to read about vampires to wrap up that series (though killing off one of my two favorite characters is only forcing my hand with one more book ... five and six depend on good writing).
After reading four books in five days, you'd think I'd be burnt out - but I'm finding that I like escaping into these stories and trying out other worlds. In some ways, the surgery recovery time brought me back to the reading I love. I just need to find a good source for book recommendations. Our school librarian told me the other day how she secretly disliked kids just picking books in a series and reading straight through and only reading those books (she loves all reading, as a note, she just wants them to diversify). However, as I mostly enjoy doing that same thing, I'm not sure I can ask for her book suggestions for awhile.
Do you have any good novels I should read? Obviously, I lean towards young adult fiction, but as long as it reads well, I'll read just about anything. :)
Love always, ~Heather
Afternote: That was my 500th published post! It seems like both a lot and so few at the same time.