By: Victoria Lopatka, Staff Writer
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this exceptional novel follows Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old living in a poor neighbourhood and attending an upscale high school across town, whose life is full of opposing sides. When her childhood friend, Khalil, is shot by the police while unarmed, pressure is put on Starr and her already confusing world. While the media is calling Khalil a gang member and drug dealer, players involved in the shooting are pressuring Starr to tell everyone what she knows about Khalil and his last night. This book is highly rated by both critics and readers on BookBrowse, being called “gut-wrenching,” “powerful,” and “honest.” In difficult times where police brutality and systemic racism are prominent, The Hate U Give will surely become a classic, and is a book everyone should pick up. It is beyond inspiring and full of insightful quotes from Starr such as “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re going to be silent in those moments when you shouldn’t be?”
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
John Green seems to be unstoppable. He has published one highly-acclaimed YA novel after the next, but this book by far is my favourite of his. Green expertly describes the mental health struggles of the main character Aza as she tries her best to be a good daughter, a good friend, and to solve the mysterious disappearance of billionaire Russell Picket that has rocked her town. USA Today has called it “a thoughtful look at mental illness and a debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder that doesn’t ask but makes you feel the constant struggles of its main character…” Winona Young, a writer for The Peak, phrased it perfectly in her review of the novel: “What is most refreshing about Green’s novel is that mental illness for once is neither romanticized nor an obstacle the protagonist overcomes in some neatly written conclusion.” If you’ve struggled with anxiety or obsessive compulsions, you may find Aza relatable in her descriptions of what she calls her “ever-tightening thought spirals.” If you haven’t, then John Green’s expertly-crafted friendships, romances, relationships, and mysteries will draw you into his newest book.
King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
If you’re a fan of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, then I highly encourage you to give the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard a try. Fans of the series are rejoicing: the third instalment has arrived! Aveyard’s novels follow Mare Barrow through tangled bloodlines, magical powers, finding and losing love, and almost losing her life. This story is a new play on the rags-to-riches fairy tale and subtly touches on themes of segregation, classism, and racism. This book finds Mare at her weakest: imprisoned, powerless, and paying for her mistakes, while her nation is on the edge of revolution. Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) said, “Readers will be intrigued by a world that reflects today’s troubling issues concerning ethnic inequality, unfair distribution of wealth, pollution, warfare, political corruption, and the frightening power of the media.” VOYA called this third book and the entire series “fast-paced and action packed.”
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Jojo, his grandparents, his little sister, and his drug-addicted mother Leonie, live in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, a town riddled with racial tensions and overshadowed by the Mississippi State Penitentiary. When Jojo’s father is released from prison, his mother is set on making her family whole again, and packs everyone in the car to go to pick him up. Changing points of view allow the readers to truly immerse themselves in the strained family dynamic through Leonie’s distance from her children, Jojo’s growing understanding of his mother’s drug addiction, and more. Throughout the trip to the prison, the family is haunted by ghosts — both literally and figuratively. Given 5/5 stars by both critics and readers on BookBrowse, this book is not only a road trip story or a ghost story, but a commentary on death, society, and family.
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Wings and Ruin is the third book in the Thorns and Roses series by No.1 New York Times Bestselling author Sarah J. Maas. The series follows Feyre, who accidentally kills an ancient, powerful faerie while trying to feed her family, and is imprisoned for it. Feyre is dragged into a world of lore, magic, and deceit, which she soon calls home. When the world is threatened by powerful forces and war, in this third instalment, Feyre is forced to gamble with her own safety and the safety of everyone she loves. If you’re a fan of other fantasy and romance writers like Victoria Aveyard and Rainbow Rowell, you’ll enjoy the works of Maas. She is an expert at creating in-depth, diverse characters and flawlessly combining elements of action and romance into the plot. The series was awarded the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2017 and has a 4.5/5 rating by consumers and critics alike on Goodreads.