2016 Reading Review – Part II

In this segment: Science Fiction and Young Adult Literature. (See the full list of my 2016 reading here.)

I don’t read a ton of traditional Science Fiction and this year’s readings were no exception. But they were both great reads.

*The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North | This might be my top recommendation from the year. A thoughtful book with some complicated plot elements that also just really moves. There’s plenty of suspense and I found it easy to get swept up in. It’s not Sci Fi in the sense of a focus on technology, but since there’s a kind of time travel I put it in this category.

*The Girl With All The Gifts by Mike Carey | The problem with me writing reviews is how much I hate even the littlest hint of a spoiler. Seriously, I read most books without looking at the back cover or reading any introductory material. Often that means that books sit on my list for a while until I’ve forgotten who recommended them or why, just so I can start it with a blank slate. So let me just say: This was a great thriller with some impressive character development; a fresh new take on the ****** genre.

Can you ever really grow out of Young Adult Literature? I certainly haven’t. And I found a great new favorite this year.

The Education of Little Tree by Asa Carter | I assigned this one for the same class as An Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man as a second example of memoir. This was the first time I’d read it since knowing the real history behind the book. It’s a challenging and complicated read in context and a good example of the nuance of racist thought that’s possible in America.

*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | This story of a child dealing with his mother’s battle with cancer was perfect. It takes children’s emotional crises seriously and provides a moving meditation on the power of stories and narrative. I’ve seen some paperback versions that just provide the text, but I found the beautiful illustrations essential for setting the tone of the book. My own mother died of cancer when I was 22 and I found this book wonderfully therapeutic; I sent copies to all my brothers.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | I reread this one as it was repeatedly recommended in our anti-authoritarian moment. And I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. It was much shorter and shallower than I’d remembered. That’s not always the case with my YA Lit rereading.

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