2013 in books, part 3: YA speculative fiction

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow is not only one of my top books of the year, it’s probably one of my top books ever. I realize that’s a strong claim to make, but it is basically all of my favorite things wrapped up in beautiful, lyrical language and a wonderful story. I could hardly breathe at certain points, let alone think about putting the book down.

I’ve been reading Miriam Forster’s blog for several years, from before she even had an agent, so I was probably somewhat predisposed to like City of a Thousand Dolls. But also, awesome worldbuilding, plus a mystery, plus a great main character? I am a fan of all of those. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel!

It takes a lot for a story to surprise me at this point, but Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss did it. I loved the way it refused to take the easy, obvious choices, and instead presented complex characters with real reasons for their actions and decisions.

You know, I’ve tried to be very thoughtful and critical in these posts. But Untold basically reduces me to saying, “Sarah Rees Brennan! How could you do that? Why?” Second books in trilogies are often tricky propositions. SRB took this challenge and dealt with it by upping the stakes and leaving us with an ending that had me wanting to throw the book across the room.

A new Robin McKinley book is always a cause for joy, and maybe a little bit of nerves. Fortunately, I genuinely enjoyed Shadows, her latest. Maggie is a great heroine, stubborn and prickly but also determined to do the right thing. I loved the shadows and her animals and the romance.

Of all the books on this list, Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox is perhaps the one I’m most conflicted about. I completely loved Cammie and the world, the way the magic worked, the sheer beauty of the writing, the way it takes on the weight of both personal and national history. But the pacing and plot didn’t work quite as well for me, especially in the middle. I still love it a LOT, and highly recommend it, but I wish that love weren’t smudged by that issue.

Oh, The Dream Thieves. Oh, Maggie Stiefvater. I was so genuinely worried about all the characters the whole time I read this book, because I had no idea what was about to happen, and it seemed so likely to go wrong. I still don’t know what’s going to happen, and just thinking about it stresses me out. Stop making me care so much!

After the way Crown of Embers ended, I couldn’t wait for The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson to come out. I was impressed by how well Carson wove the different strands of her story together; I feel like I need to go back and read the earlier books because I’ll see them in a different light. I loved Elisa and the resolution of her journey.

The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke is the sequel to last year’s Assassin’s Curse. I enjoyed them both a lot, but thought that The Pirate’s Wish did a better job of getting beneath the surface and really showing interesting and complex characters. I liked the journeys that Ananna took, and the romance worked for me.

I don’t think we have enough good YA science fiction. Fortunately, there’s Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson, a sequel/companion book to last year’s Ultraviolet. Tori isn’t Alison; she’s a much more straightforward narrator in a certain way. But in both cases, Anderson creates a wonderful main character who is coming to terms with something uncomfortable in herself. I loved this book a lot–it’s clever and witty, but full of heart. (Also, full of awesome romances!)

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6 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, reviews

6 responses to “2013 in books, part 3: YA speculative fiction

  1. I read Dream Thieves this past week, sitting on the floor of the hall outside our hotel room in the early hours of the morning (there was no choice, the rest of my family being slugs, and the tv blaring loudly in the lounge). It was a lovely book for early morning hall reading–nicely gripping and intense!

    This is going to be the year I read Rae Carson and Cassandra Rose Clarke (determined face).

    • Maureen Eichner

      Oh, yes, it would be! I was extremely Nervous the entire time, in that way one gets about fictional characters.

      I think you would enjoy both!

  2. I loved so many of these too: Sorrow’s Knot, City of a Thousand Dolls, The Bitter Kingdom, Quicksilver.

    And Cassandra Rose Clark’s books are just so much FUN. I’m really looking forward to the next one she has coming out that takes place in the same world.

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