As a writer, sometimes reading can feel like work because it's almost like a daily study of writing techniques. But it's fun work. So fun, that sometimes I care a little too much about what happens to these characters (which is, of course, what any author can hope for). With that, I'm really pleased to say that my fall season with filled with outstanding books. Here are some mini reviews/fangirl-sh thoughts on some books I read in the fall.
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
After reading Celeste Ng's debut (Everything I Never Told You), I had to get my hands on this book. Which I did. And I have come to the conclusion that Ng is a genius. She is so good at weaving unrelated stories together and making them relate to each other in impactful ways. In Little Fires, she writes about two different families and how their interactions lead to a collision of values. It all leads to a really crazy court case where custody of an Asian baby is called into question after a young woman gives her up. The result is a surprisingly calm examination of what it means to be a mother, what it means to be a family. I love that Ng doesn't really shove social commentaries in your face, but asks you to look at all sides of a story as you read.
Autonomous, Annalee Newitz
I got this book as part of a monthly book and tea subscription box called Muse Monthly (which, sadly, is no longer available) and was not sure what to expect. I hadn't actually read science fiction in so long, so it was a bit of a departure from my recent reads. The book tells the story of a tough drug pirate and the government agents, a human and a humanoid robot, who are tailing her after she unknowingly copies and distributes a lethal drug to her poor clientele. There's a bit of conspiracy, some corruption, and a surprising amount of robot/human romance. I felt completely immersed in Newitz's world of rebel pharmacists and really enjoyed her treatment of these characters, especially of Jack and Paladin.
Meddling Kids, Edgar Cantero
Instagram made me buy it. I saw this book being spotted up the wazoo on social media, especially during Halloween time, and caved when I read descriptions that it was based on Mystery Inc. cartoons. I had expected a literary version of 'Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island' (which scared the crap out of me when I was younger), and that's almost what I got. If you ever wondered what happened to Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang after they graduated high school and grew up, this could be some version of that. In Meddling Kids, we follow the Blyton Summer Detective Club, who, after walking away from a traumatizing case seemingly unscathed in 1977, decide to reopen that case in 1990. What follows is a really self-indulgent, ass-kicking, name-taking romp with the monsters. The dialogue sometimes made me cringe (especially in the fight scenes), but I think that was the point. It's fun. And twisty. In all the best ways.
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
Honestly? This is one of those books that had me hook, line, and sinker. I couldn't put it down after a certain point. Everyone knows the story. Girl meets boy. They both have cancer. Teen romance ensues. I won't spoil the ending. I watched the movie first. I liked it, but the book is so much better (the book is always better). Green's writing is addictive. Or maybe it was Hazel's voice that did it for me. I also really like the fact that this book has as many painful, hard-to-read moments, as it does nice, romantic moments. Like, the moments where you see people at their worst. Or maybe I just revel in drama.
A Wrinkle In Time, Madeline L'Engle
I had to re-read this after seeing the epic 'Wrinkle in Time' trailer because I didn't remember very much from my first read of the book way back in elementary school. All I remember is that Charles Wallace is a strange kid (my opinion on this hasn't changed). Reading it again felt like something out of a dream. As a writer, it made me realize how much you can do with so little words (in terms of describing the impossible/improbable in science fiction and fantasy). As a reader, I had a real appreciation for Meg Murray. She is brave and strong in non-obvious ways and is a heroine I'm excited to see on the big screen (along with the trio of goddesses Oprah, Reese, and Mindy with their gorgeous space make-up).
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
I wouldn't say this book is for everybody, but it was definitely one for me. Fangirl tells the story of Cather Avery (or just Cath), a freshman in college who struggles to find her place in school. Some of this has to do with the fact that she is a fan fiction writer who has millions of readers on a particular, Harry Potter-esque WIP. Other parts deal with social anxiety, parent issues, twin sister issues, and more. The characters were vibrant and complex, and I fell in love with Cath. I felt a little let down by the ending because it doesn't seem to do her justice in terms of giving her full closure, but I've gotta believe that she was fine after everything. I also really like the fact that Rowell made up this whole other fantasy series just for this book (Simon Snow, anyone?) and wrote fake fan fiction for book.