After spending my whole life reading books like I need them to survive, I now spend my winter breaks working at Barnes & Noble. I also work at various libraries during the rest of the year. Needless to say, I know a lot about books. Today, I’m putting that knowledge to good use and recommending some of the books that have left long-lasting impressions on me.
- The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater – A book that follows the story of 4 private school boys, a family of psychic women, and how their worlds intersect. This book has everything: magic, hidden treasure, magical forests, ghosts, ley lines, found family, strong female characters (every single woman in this book is a badass in their own way, and I cannot stress the awesomeness of that enough), murder mysteries, humor, and so much more. It’s the first book in a series of four books, with a spin-off series that’s still being published, so it’s an excellent choice if you want to tuck in for the long haul. This is tied for my favorite book series, and there are few pieces of media I’ve enjoyed consuming more. I highly recommend it.
- Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo – What’s more exciting than a gang of extremely talented teenagers planning the most ambitious heist anyone has ever seen? Not much! The characters in this book are very well-written, and the dialogue never fails to entertain. Many books that feature teenagers as the main characters seem to forget that teenagers aren’t just moody but multifaceted people who say and do dumb things, just like everyone else. This book differs in that the characters are broody and badass but also childish at times and capable of having serious conversations as well as goofing around with each other. I’m happy to report that there are no love triangles in this story, so if you, like me, hate love triangles, this is the perfect read. Although the Six of Crows duology is technically a spin-off of the Shadow and Bone series, you don’t need any knowledge of Shadow and Bone to follow the plot. This is the other series that’s tied for my favorite series.
- The Selection Series, by Kiera Cass – I read these books in 8th grade, and I still think about them daily. It’s a bit of a lighter take on a dystopian future, in which royals select their future spouse from a selection of random girls from all different social classes. This book is very much about politics at court and changing the future, but it also features strong friendships and romances that are very easy to get invested in as a reader. If you’re a fan of the Hulu show The Great, this is the series for you.
- The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black – If you like slow-burn romances, the Fae, dark fantasy, or royal courts, you need to read this book immediately! I don’t even know where to start with this book because it impressed me so much. The story follows Jude Duarte, who is a human trapped in the Faerie world after being kidnapped (along with her twin sister) as a child. She’s not helpless to her situation, though. She’s grown up into a fierce swordsman who knows all the tricks and deceptions that the Fae tend to use on humans. She also goes to school with the obnoxious, bratty youngest prince and his gaggle of equally offensive friends. I won’t spoil the rest, but I will say that this book took cliches and turned them inside out, while also being unpredictable and having plot twists that I never saw coming.
- Scythe, by Neil Shusterman – This is another book I read in 8th grade that I still think about all the time. In the wake of the dystopian societies in Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and countless other books, Scythe is about a utopian society that has eliminated the concept of mortality. Instead of natural death, a select group of people are chosen to be Scythes, tasked with steadily solving overpopulation problems by killing random citizens. The main characters are two teenagers who have been selected to be the newest apprentice Scythes. The catch? Only one of them will advance from the apprenticeship, and the winner will have to kill the loser. I really liked how this book delved into the nuances of darker topics (e.g., power imbalances, the social interpretations of suicide, death as a whole, etc.) within a supposedly perfect society. It gave me some of the same vibes as Lois Lowry’s The Giver, but the two stories still manage to be perfectly different from one another.