First of all: Happy New Year! I hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays and the first five days of 2013.
January has already brought some exciting news for me: as of September 2013, I will be training to be a primary school teacher. I will probably write more about why I have decided to make this career change another time, but suffice it to say, I am super excited (as well as being massively relieved that I managed to pass the numeracy skills test required after almost eleven years of doing any sort of education-based maths).
Anyway, I thought I would put together a sort-of belated review of 2012 in the form of a top ten books list (in no particular order). I read so many good books last year that this was very tricky indeed, but I have given it a go.
1. Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman.
I have been a huge Malorie Blackman fan since I was a teenager and this book didn’t disappoint. It’s about a boy who suddenly has to face up to his responsibilities after finding out he has become a father. Blackman has a way of dealing with serious situations in a witty, original, thought-provoking way; this book was fantastic in that it looked into the issue of teenage/single parenthood without seeming preachy, judgmental or cliched. And, I will admit, it did make me cry.
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
What can I say? I was a little late to the Wimpy Kid party, but I thankfully got there eventually. Greg Heffley’s adventures are hilarious and, in the words of a kid at school, “the humour isn’t like boring adult humour, it’s like actual kid humour, that real kids think is funny”.
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
I read so many dystopian young adult books in 2012 that I did get a little bit difficult to please by the end! Divergent is one that really impressed me. The main character, Tris, has to make some difficult decisions about her future in this book, and the character growth arc is really interesting. However, the main reason I liked this book? It’s a really exciting story. Old fashioned, I know, but true.
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This had been on my “to read” list for so long; in the end I was spurred on by the fact that we read it for our staff and 6th form book group. There’s probably not a lot I can say about this book that hasn’t been said before. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, the characters are so vividly drawn and it stays with you long after you’ve finished. Another book that made me cry.
NB-I don’t cry a lot at books, I promise.
5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This is a relatively simply told, incredibly effective story about a boy named Auggie who lives with a facial deformity. The book is mostly narrated by Auggie himself as he starts a new school, but there are chapters written by other characters interspersed throughout. When I first heard about the subject of this book, I wondered whether it would end up being a bit too saccharine, but the humour is quite dry and things are painted to be just the right amount of complex for a childrens’ book.
6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
I read this after reading “Delirium”, which I also thought was fantastic. I have, however, decided to pick this one, simply because I sort of feel that Delirium gets a bit lost in the sea of dystopian books, whereas this is unlike anything I have ever read. I won’t say too much about it, other than to say that Oliver has not taken an easy route by writing this particular protagonist, handles challenging characters incredibly well, and writes some of the most beautiful sentences I have read to date in young adult fiction.
7. Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson
Short chaptered, action-packed story about chaos theory, ergo lots of interconnected story threads that come together in complicated, mind-blowing ways. I stayed up until 2am reading this.
8. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
I finally got around to reading this! It’s a dense, difficult book due to its subject matter and it took me absolutely ages to read. I am so glad I persisted with it, because it’s such an interesting study of crime and the justice system and why people end up the way they end up and why they do the things they do. It’s dark and horrible and terribly sad, but so vivid and Capote’s journalistic voice is fantastic. Although I already knew about the background and Capote’s personal involvement in the case, the writing comes across as fact-based and unemotional without being cold.
9. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I expected a light, enjoyable, escapist-type romance. I got something completely different, in a good way. It’s easy to read, the characters are easy to like, but, goodness me, Moyes managed to make this book much, much more than that. I don’t want to spoil it by saying too much more, but if you read one commercial book this year, make it this one.
10. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
A heartbreaking, but ultimately life-affirming story about a girl dealing with a terrible event whilst starting high school. One of the best teen/young adult books about “serious issues” I read in 2013.