Posted in discussion

Favourite Books Of The Year | 2018

The arrival of a brand new reading year means that it is time to reflect back on the many stories I consumed in 2018. Sadly, it is not a year will miss as I spent most of it in a big old slump. More often than not, I’d find a gem I adored, finish it and be left thinking “now what?” So, while those standouts were few and far between, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of a place on this list.

The Extinction Trials: Books 1 &2 by S.M.Wilson

Yes, it’s cheeky to start my summary with two books not only from the same author, but from the same series. But it’s my list and I make the rules!

The Extinction Trials tells the tale of two continents: one inhabited by humans and the other by dinosaurs. The human continent is vastly overpopulated and vital supplies such as healthcare are in short supply. Every year citizens are invited to volunteer to take part in a series of trials to prove that they are worthy of being sent to the dinosaur continent, Pilora, in search of more sustainable resources. Stormchaser and Lincoln both have their reasons for joining the cause.

This book is just so vivid and well written with an incredible cast of characters, all of which you can sympathize with. Oh, and of course dinosaurs. Lots and lots of dinosaurs.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

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A book that would have completely passed me by if it wasn’t shoved into my hands by a friend, How To Stop Time follows a man who has a rare condition meaning that he has been alive for centuries. Every few years he is forced to change everything in his life in order to avoid detection, while also searching for his missing daughter who also has the same condition.

A beautiful, though-provoking read that tackles history and importance of identity, wrapped up in breath-taking prose.

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James 

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Sci-fi is a genre that I have tried many times to dip my toes into but just don’t get on with. However, I kept hearing a lot of buzz in the YA community about this book. So I went into the reading experience hoping it would prove me wrong, and boy it did.

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe follows teenage girl Romy as she flies a spaceship to a new Earth in the hopes of starting new life. Besides the mundane ship maintenance she carries out every day, her existence revolves around the emails she receives – a year after they were sent- from a woman at Nasa.

It’s isolating, character driven brilliance and I found myself sharing Romy’s excitement every time she got the notification that a new message had arrived. I still think about this book every day.

Paper Girls: Volume 1  by Brian K.Vaughan and Cliff Chiang 

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Another genre I’ve always struggled with is graphic novels. It’s such a big intimidating corner of the bookstore and I always feel like other shoppers can tell that I clearly don’t know what I’m doing or looking at. But one day I noticed this face out on the shelf and something about the cover just made me go “yes please!” I started reading and knew I had to buy it; despite being skeptical that it was by the same writer of Saga which I hated.

Paper Girls is… well about a group of paper round girls in the eighties who come together on a night when all manner of weird things begin to happen. I love all their different personalities and the artwork is simply gorgeous!

A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi 

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Tahereh’s step into YA contemporary sees her putting a lot of her experiences as a fashion obsessed, breakdancing muslim teenager into the character of Shirin. The story takes place a year after the events of 9/11 and documents the shift in how she is perceived in the world.

Shirin is an amazingly well-rounded character and while I can’t relate directly to her story, I felt so hard for her when she opens up to the reader about what she expects from those around her. So imagine her surprise when a rather attractive boy called Ocean (yes, Ocean) starts paying an interest in her.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve felt such a weight of emotion in my chest finishing a book. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book and wanted to read it again straight away.

So there you have it! That’s my round up of 2018.
Did any of your books make my list?
What were some of your standouts?

Posted in review, young adult

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe – Lauren James

“It’s hard to focus on the future when the past is so distracting.”

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Blurb: “Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.”

As I’ve said many times before, sci-fi is a genre that I’ve never been able to fully invest in. More often than not, it can get too complicated for me to follow so I tend to avoid it. For some reason, when scanning the shelves at my local library, I came across The Loneliest Girl In The Universe and decided to give it a go as it seemed like something my tiny brain could handle. Quite simply put: I adored this book.

Romy is the only astronaut on her ship and her only correspondence is with a woman called Molly at NASA, and even then she has the time delay of only just receiving messages that had been sent to her a year ago. It’s far too easy to relate to her character, in the sense of feeling alone. Sometimes it can be crippling and feel like it might never end and in the modern age, we’re able to turn to a virtual world where we can communicate with other people at the click of a button. As I pursued the narrative, I felt the rush alongside Romy when she took to her computer and found a new notification waiting for her. When she’s informed that another ship has been launched to meet her and complete the mission, she finds herself messaging this new boy J who is on the same page as her; he’s the only one who really understands what she’s going through. Again, it highlights just how much power technology has and how, in certain situations, it can actually be used for good. I just loved this weighted aspect in a story consisting really of just one character.

I found the actual space elements quite easy to digest which made it easy for me to just fly through this story. Though I couldn’t shake the claustrophobia of being on this one ship for so long. Romy is faced with the monumental task of creating a new civilisation on a new habitable planet and that’s just a lot to bear, especially on your own. Every little layer of her backstory to create this beautiful, well-written character who felt so real that my chest ached whenever she was going through a negative moment. For the most part, she’s just a normal teenager, writing fan fiction about her favourite TV show, doing homework and slowly starting to fall in love with a boy on another ship trying to catch up.

Another awesome thing to note is that there is a period mention because, after all, being in space doesn’t negate the fact that a teenage girl will still have her monthly cycle! Not only does the reader experience Romy going through it, but it’s also mentioned at different intervals as the amendments to her ship are made and so on.

It’s very much a story about characters and Romy is one I’m going to be thinking about for a long time.

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