My Faves from the First Half of 2011, Part I
While I had to think for a bit on many of these topics before I could figure out the most apt answer, my favorite read thus far in 2011 is The Piper's Son. No question. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of the Melina Marchetta novels I've read and I am saving two of them for lulls in my reading enjoyment. I cannot say the same for any other author. She is simply amazing at conveying true feeling and multidimensional characters that feel absolutely real.
I'm not sure how well the book would come across without reading its companion Saving Francesca beforehand, so I recommend you start with that one and then make your way to Piper.
Teeeears. I very rarely cry in books but these two made me sob. Before I Die chronicles a girl's attempt to finish a bucket list before she passes away from leukemia and If I Stay tells the story of a girl who, after a horrible car accident, evaluates her life and decides whether she wants to live or let go. Read them with tissues. They get the "best achey, heartbreaking, tear-jerker read" award.
Boston, how I miss you. I kept putting this book off for some reason, even though many of my reader friends kept recommending it to me. I am ashamed that I never picked it up before I did because I just adored it. It was heartwarming, funny, and beyond endearing. The characters were each refreshing and the relationships spot-on. It made me want to immediately move back to Boston. For that, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger gets "delicious, rainy day comfort read."
Sigh, Wyoming. Even though the category "I-so-want-to-go-to-there" would usually make readers want to pick a fabulous imaginary world or a fantastic fantasy, I picked Cynthia Hand's Unearthly because it is set in one of my favorite parts of the United States--the Yellowstone/Teton parks section. I love going there and I wish I was there all the time.
DJ Schwenk of the Dairy Queen series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock might just be the most realistically endearing narrator I've ever read. I listened to the first two installments in this series in January and adored both of them. Read them. DJ wins "most memorable voice."
Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)'s Rage and Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door were both disturbing, but on different levels. The former is scary because it imagines a student going on a shooting rampage in school. (scary because it could've happened at the time it was written and actually did happen afterward) Ketchum's novel is scary because it is based on an horrific crime that occurred--so much torture is involved. Both of these stories will stay in my mind for years to come and that is why I pick them as "most haunting."
Blood Red Road "would make the best movie." From the setting to the dialogue, to the action, to the characters, this entire book lends itself to the cinema experience. I really hope it becomes a movie in the future because I would love to see this world imagined on the big screen.
Lucy Christopher's Aussie book Stolen wins the "outside my comfort zone but gosh how I loved it" award. I was so skeptical going into this one because it is about the kidnapping of a teenage girl and other readers told me I would sympathize with the abductor. I categorize this as outside my comfort zone only because I did end up agreeing with them--it isn't often when I read books where I am so conflicted about the bad guy/good guy duality. In actuality, very little (if anything) is outside of my comfort zone.
Ultraviolet is a pretty amazing book. It is not yet released but I had the chance to read it as an ARC and loved it. It wins the "I had no idea I would love this so" award because I went into it basically blind and came out completely wowed. RJ Anderson switches up the entire feel of the book (and the genre!) and I was amazed at the fact that I stayed interested and enjoyed the entire thing. I also give this one the "completely awesome premise" award.
I really highly doubt that anyone is still reading at the end of this epically long posting but I wanted to do it for posterity's sake. Thanks Nomes for thinking up such great award topics!