What I Read In May consists mostly of YA novels, as I took part in a YA reading challenge! I had initially made a To Be Read list, but of course, I didn’t stick to it. Instead, I found some great new books thanks to friends in the reading challenge group.
Home Body – Rupi Kaur
If you haven’t heard of Rupi Kaur by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock. This poet’s well-known collections include milk and honey, and the sun and her flowers. Home Body is her newest collection and is certainly more raw and disheartening, to say the least. It’s filled with honesty about her own experiences, both good and bad, and how those experiences have shaped her. I highly recommend reading through her poems, especially if you have a penchant for simplicity like I do.
Possession – Elana Johnson
I’ll be completely honest, there is so much lack of information throughout this whole book that I felt like I could have skipped ahead to the ending and understood just as much as if I had read the entire book.
The story is set in a dystopian future where the Association has control of what the author describes as the Goodgrounds. A section known as the B
adlands also exists, which seems to favour freedom much more than the dictatorship that is happening in the Goodgrounds.
The story is set in a dystopian future where the Association has control of what the author describes as the Goodgrounds. A section known as the Badlands also exists, which seems to favour freedom much more than the dictatorship that is happening in the Goodgrounds.
Protagonist Violet, also known as Vi, is found breaking a rule by meeting with her match, Zenn, after dark. She is then arrested, but for some reason the authorities thought it best that she be put in a jail cell with another prisoner, one of the opposite sex.
Vi meets Jag and he acts as though they had already known each other. Although Jag does not disclose any information about Vi and the powers she holds, she slowly/obliviously begins to learn about the control she can have over other people.
The entire story revolves around Violet finding safety, while trying to escape the clutches of a character who turns out to have a secret identity.
To sum, there is absolutely no character development whatsoever, and hardly any progression of the story throughout the entire book. The story also ends on a cliffhanger, but in such a vague way that I can safely say I probably won’t pick up the remaining books in the series.
I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars, because the premise of the story is very good, and it is definitely not one of the worst books I’ve ever read. It just can’t compete with other dystopian YA novels, especially due to poor dialogue and lack of information.
I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman
Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven’t been able to confront, and together, they find their way back to who they’re supposed to be.
I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman was one of my favourite reads of 2021! I loved the character development and how they connected with each other. The writing style switched from narration to first person, alternating between three different people, and although I usually dislike that, it was the perfect way to slowly learn more about each character and their life experiences.
A very large expanse of sea – Tahereh Mafi
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments – even the physical violence – she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her – they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds – and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
I LOVED this book! Learning about a new culture and the challenges that people of colour face (that I know I’ll never have to face), was done so in a very articulate and real way.
Again, But Better – Christine Riccio
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
This book became available as an audio book. Since I had told myself that I would try to listen to more audio books, I said “Why not,” and clicked on the “borrow” button from the library’s website. By complete coincidence, a friend in our reading challenge mentioned this book. She described it as a coming-of-age book but at 20 years old instead of the usual 16-18 years old. That immediately captured my attention, because it felt similar to my life experiences.
As cute as the story was, the halfway mark is where I began to lose interest. I won’t go into detail about what happened (no spoilers), but it was a good rom-com read, with a little cheesy twist.
Vitro – Jessica Khoury
Funny story – I did not know this was the second book of a trilogy. However, you can definitely read it as a stand alone, because it doesn’t refer to anything from previous books. It also does not seem to be missing any information in order to fully enjoy the story.
On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.
Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists hunky charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for, including a charming, brilliant Vitro named Nicholas and an innocent, newly awoken one named Lux.
In a race for their lives, Sophie and Jim are about to discover what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, as I am a big dystopian fan. It was intriguing to learn about past family history, plus the connections/disconnections that are formed. I found the character development well done, and felt particularly attached to Sophie and Jim. What I also really liked was that there were hints of attachments being formed, a possible love-triangle, without focusing solely on romantic relationships.
Although I don’t have a new favourite for 2021 yet, I Have Lost My Way and A Very Large Expanse of Sea are top contenders! What have you been reading this year? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
In case you missed my previous reading posts, here are the most recent ones: