The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
In this first book of The Inheritance Trilogy fantasy series by N.K. Jemisin, the story follows Yeine Derr, who finds herself one of three possible heirs in line for the throne to rule the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Coming from the barbaric lands of the north to the elegant kingdom of Sky, where she would live as heir, Yeine finds she must quickly adapt to backstabbing cousins and meddling gods, who live as slaves to the royal family. Yeine must decide who to trust.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which combined a fantasy world with a mythical world of gods seamlessly. The politics that ensnare Yeine kept me engaged and the ending provided a satisfying twist. If you like mythology and the politics of Game of Thrones, you’ll probably enjoy this read.
The Broken Kingdoms
The second book in The Inheritance Trilogy, takes on a new heroine in new settings in the same world. Following many changes to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms brought on by the events of the previous novel, Oree Shoth, a blind artist who can only see magic, lives in Shadow beneath the World Tree. Oree makes a mysterious, magical friend and not long after godlings begin turning up dead. Oree finds herself in the midst of the madness.
The sequel, while good, didn’t do as much for me as the first book. The pacing was slower and I liked the political side of the first book. However, the character Oree was very well developed and relatable.
Far From the Madding Crowd
After seeing the trailer for the recent film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy classic, I decided to read the book. (I have this thing where I’m always worried a movie is going to spoil a really good book I haven’t read.) The story follows Bathsheba Everdene, a spunky, independent young woman, with a bit of a vain side, and Gabriel Oaks, a young shepherd who goes to work for Bathsheba after unfortunate circumstances. Bathsheba inherits a farm and estate from her uncle. While running the farm, she sorts through three lovers, proposals, and some bad decisions in love.
I love reading classics and this Hardy novel is a light, fairly easy read with a strong (for the times) female character. Also, after seeing the movie, I’m glad I listened to my inner fear of missing out on good prose. In other words, the book is better.
Ready Player One
Ready Player One has become a popular novel this year and continues to gain traction. Ernest Cline’s breakout novel is basically Indiana Jones meets 80’s pop culture meets Willy Wonka. Set in 2044, the book follows Wade Watts, a teenager, who spends almost all his time in the virtual reality world of Oasis. The creator of Oasis has left an Easter Egg hidden in the game and the finder of that Egg will inherit a large fortune. Wade is obsessed with following the clues and figuring out the puzzles to find the Egg. The only problem: so are a lot of other people.
Overall, Cline’s novel is packed with entertainment, lots of nerd reference, and it’s pretty fun. If you like video games, movies, and comics from this era, then this book will really strike at that nostalgia. I did have some problems with the technical side of Ready Player One. For one thing, Cline spoon feeds a lot of information to the reader and some of Wade’s “challenges” get solved a little easily. I also felt that his female love interest, Art3mis, could have been fleshed out better, too one dimensional. Regardless of these problems, I’m still super-stoked to see Steven Spielberg direct the film adaptation of this book.
Saga Volume Four
This has become one of my favorite graphic novel series’! Warring planets, robots with TV heads, a flying tree-spaceship, plus a little Romeo and Juliet- Saga has everything. Volume Five was just released and, based on the direction things were going at the end of Four, I’m excited to continue the story. I wrote a review of Volume 4 here.
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal
I’m completely in love with this new Ms. Marvel. She’s young, relatable, and adds some diversity to the Marvel universe, but she’s not just a token character. She’s got personality and struggles with her identity, just like the best of us.
Kamala Khan is a Muslim teenage girl with strict, devout parents in Jersey City. However, Kamala wants her parents to lighten up and let her socialize with her classmates. After a strange night of sneaking out of house to attend a party, Kamala finds herself with shape-shifting powers. She must learn to control her body’s changes and accept this new form.
The Wizard of Earthsea
I know, I know… how could I have missed this book growing up? I’m not really sure how it happened. I found my was to A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narnia at a pretty young age, but somehow missed this one. Better late and all that, I guess.
I read or heard (don’t remember the source) someone say recently that Earthsea comes to people at a time when it’s right for them to read. So a few months ago must have been my time. The book is amazing and unbelievably insightful and introspective for a children’s book- and really any book for that matter. Essentially a journey of facing one’s past and accepting mistakes, this book speaks to everyone.