A few facts for you. Last year (2016), for the first time in years, I beat my reading target of 52 books. I read 68 books. I didn’t buy any new books in 2016 (although I did receive a few as presents). I did rediscover the library. 30 of the 68 books were library books, so in fact I rediscovered the library in a big way! This, of course, hasn’t helped with the huge backlog of unread books in my house. It did help me go on an exciting new obsession with dystopian fiction though.
The oxford dictionary online defines dystopia as “An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one. The opposite of utopia” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/dystopia).
A lot of the dystopias I read about last year were in teen fiction books or YA. First, I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which had a great premise. I gave it 7/10. As the summer turned to autumn, I then read the two sequels and one prequel The Scorch Trials (7/10), The Death Cure (7/10) and The Kill Order. Sad to say, like their situation in the world they live in, the books get worse as they go on. If you’re going to read them, do, but I would avoid The Kill Order, which is a prequel. It’s bordering on nonsensical and has very little in the way of plot (5/10). Light reading, all four, but enjoyable in the main. Before I read the sequels, a very bookish friend lent me the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. She lent me them with the words “they are better than The Hunger Games“. High praise indeed. I responded to this comment with a determination that it wasn’t possible. I love all three of The Hunger Games books. So I began Divergent (8/10), and it wasn’t long before I felt like the writer was either paying homage to Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, or writing her own slightly changed version. Basically, if you like The Hunger Games, then you’ll probably like this trilogy too. Or so I thought. I enjoyed Insurgent too (7 1/2 /10). Allegiant (6/10), however, has a lot to answer for. I am not going to spoiler this book but let me just say I am still raging at it. No mean feat for a book I read back in August (it’s now March). If you read the trilogy, obviously you will have to read it to hear the end. If you do want spoilers, I rant about it on Goodreads here.
Staying on dystopia, but hitting the adult shelves of the library for a change, I read Wool by Hugh Howey. I would give it 7/10. I really like the setting, and I loved the build up, but unfortunately, for me this built and built and then bottomed out without a great climax. I haven’t read its sequels. In September and October, I read Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (7/10) and The End of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker. The former is scary and unnerving, the latter is by far and away the best new book I read last year. The End of The World Running Club is so good that I have since recommended it to three other people, two of whom have said it’s probably the best book they’ve ever read and at least one of whom has passed it on to someone else. I would like to read the sequels to Annihilation, but haven’t been able to find them.
I also read all of these other library books but I feel that this post is getting long and rambling, so I am going to wrap it up. My local library is amazing, and many of these books I got by placing requests for them online.
This year, my nearest library has enabled me to become obsessed with the Pretty Little Liars series of books by Sara Shepard. More on that later…