In April 2018, an idea came to my mind. I thought, perhaps, that I could dedicate one month to reading a particular genre or a particular set of books which have a common denominator. It has always been my practice to not read books of the same genre consecutively to avoid getting bored. However, I took a step out of that and in April 2018 I read purely works by Asian writers. Since then, I have thought of doing the same again, but with another genre. The opportunity came in August 2018.
After immersing on books that are part of my 2018 Top 20 Reading List, I decided to take a break and read books that are not part of this list. Then it hit me – why not dedicate August to young adult fiction. I admit, I am not fan of young adult fiction (I did make it a point of highlighting this in every opportunity I could). I just have a lot of issues with this particular genre – from the writing style to the predictive subjects. Nevertheless, there are always books that prove me wrong, hence, I still, whenever I can, read young adult fiction. And that is how my August reading went.
Here are the books that I have read during the month.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is a cult young adult fiction classic which opened my August reading journey. Jay Asher’s highly-praised young adult fiction piece is included in my 2018 Top 20 Reading List for a number of reasons. First, it is a high-rating NetFlix series and second, it is about a very sensitive subject that means a lot to me. The way Asher navigated through this very sensitive subject in the book is commendable. However, I am not totally impressed with the story and I wish that Asher did more. Overall, it was just an “ok” read.
To read my thoughts on Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, click here.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This is another young adult fiction piece that is part of my 2018 Top 20 Reading List because of the enchanting trailer of the movie that I have seen prior to purchasing a copy of the book. The sad story behind the novel made it all the more engaging. Although it wasn’t originally his concept, Ness did an amazing job in depicting grief and sorrow. He smoothly cruised through these sensitive subjects. Ness amazed me with The Knife of Never Letting Go and his vivid depictions in A Monster Calls made me an even bigger fan.
To read my thoughts on Ness’ A Monster Calls, click here.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
This is the only anomaly amongst my August bunch. Aside from it not being a young-adult fiction, it is a biographical works. However, I had a great time reading the book because of its fascinating subject – coffee and war. This is also a book that I included in my 2018 Most Anticipated List. Reading Mokhtar’s adventures in his ancestral land made me hold my breath at times but overall I was underwhelmed with the book. I did set quite high expectations because it is my first fiction book in years.
To read my thoughts on Eggers’ The Monk of Mokha, click here.
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass)
I first came across Philip Pullman’s masterpiece through its movie adaptation. I haven’t watched the movie yet although I saw glimpses of it. However, these glimpses did not prepare me to how startlingly dark yet amazing it is. I have to admit though that the trilogy is anything but what I expected it to be. There were grotesque scenes which are not suitable for young readers which is kind of ironic because the principal characters in the book are children. Through three books, Pullman navigated through a myriad of topics. The idea behind the trilogy is truly astounding but there was a pall hovering above the book which makes it a challenging read.
But what makes the book “dark” is not just the myriad of subjects it took on. It was more of the writing which threw it a different shade. It is an adventure book that is beyond Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia. This is probably what makes it all the more interesting. It wasn’t my cup of tea, unfortunately and I had a hell of a time trying to appreciate and understand it. Nevertheless, it was a breath of fresh air.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere is my second Neil Gaiman book. His American Gods left me with more questions rather than awe, in spite it being a highly recommended read. Just like His Dark Materials Trilogy, the book is filled with dark subjects. There were some grotesque scenes but Gaiman’s depiction is, as always, superb. He took me to a magic carpet ride in the tawdry London Underground. For a children’s book, it did involve quite a lot of grisly imagery. It is an entertaining read but something that I do not recommend to young readers. The version I have read is Gaiman’s preferred version. It makes me wonder how different it is from the one that has been published.
My Neighbor Totoro by Tsugiko Kubo
Japan’s Studio Ghibli has indeed created a mark in the world of animation. Its works have been widely patronized across the globe. One such work is My Neighbor Totoro, which makes reading the book kind of weird. Usually books are adapted into movies but not in this case – the movie was adapted into a book. Nevertheless, the book hasn’t lost the magic the movie contains. The illustrations as well gave life to the story. More importantly, the special relationship of the two sisters has been preserved.
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
This is my second Ness book for the month and is the second book of the Walking Chaos Trilogy. (It does always make me wonder why dystopian novels come in threes – Divergent Trilogy and Hunger Games Trilogy to name a few). I did love the first installment in the trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go and I have quite high expectations for its sequel as well. However, the book has taken me aback. Todd and Viola has suddenly matured. The tone and the voice of the story as well drastically changed. I am not sure if I am happy with the changes.
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Due to my disappointment with The Ask and the Answer, I immediately took on the trilogy closer. Thankfully, the voice of the narrative was carried on from the second book. Overall, it was a satisfactory closer to the plot. It was more different than I originally thought it would be. However, as I got immersed in the story, it made me realize how the third book made the plot come full circle. It was a complete turnaround from the second book. Patrick Ness is indeed a remarkable writer.
So that is a wrap for my August young adult fiction month. Although I am not a great fan of this specific genre, some of these books are slowly changing my perspective. It just goes to show how broad the world of literature is. For now, I am on just enjoying this literary journey. To more books!