Beauty: Beauty, by Robin McKinley, is a retelling of (you guessed it!) Beauty and the Beast. McKinley’s Beauty is an awkward, pimpled, clumsy bookworm in a family of great beauties. Great beauties who are terribly nice, to boot. Beauty is funny and caring, and a good role model for young girls. If you like books with strong female characters who are into books and learning, you will like Beauty. Also, if you like Gail Carson Levine’s fairy tale retellings or Howl’s Moving Castle, you may like this.
Sabriel: Speaking of badass heroines, Sabriel has to be up there for books with a strong female lead. Garth Nix created a world in which the Victorian Age of a country much like England is separated from a more magical kingdom by a wall. The magical kingdom, much like in the Song of Ice and Fire series, is a place where the dead can walk. Sabriel is a necromancer in training who must leave school in the un-magical world and return to her birthplace once her father, the Abhorsen, dies. If you like Anna Dressed in Blood or Blood Red Road, chances are you will like Sabriel.
Maus: Maus and Maus II are divergences from my earlier recommendations, but the graphic novels are fantastic. Art Spiegelman retells the story of a Holocaust survivor through a graphic novelization with mice as the main characters. As a junior high/high school student, these graphic novels helped me get a narrative of the Holocaust that wasn’t too overwhelming while respecting the seriousness of the subject-matter. If you like The Book Thief or The Diary of Anne Frank, check these out.
The Blade Itself: Last but not least is Joe Abercombie’s The Blade Itself. I’ve only read the first of this series, but that was due to lack of funds and law school rather than lack of desire. Blade is a dark, twisted story of kings that takes place around the medieval era. If you like Game of Thrones, but wish there was less politics, or if you like The Name of the Wind, but wish there was more blood and torture, The Blade Itself is for you. Dark, complex, twisted, and wonderful writing.
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with her picks? Do you have any other recommendations for us?