December 11, 2012 by Julia
Courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish, here is another Top Ten Tuesday! These authors are not necessarily new authors, but I read my first book by them in 2012. The order is chronological starting from the beginning of the year, since I’m using my book tracker program to remind myself what I read.
- Michelle Hodkin. Her first book, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, was recommended to me by a friend, and I was so impressed that I read the sequel earlier this month, right after its release. Hodkin is good at one of my favorite techniques, “Is the main character really encountering these strange things, or is it all in her head?” I’m a sucker for unreliable narration . . .
- SF Said. I got his book Varjak Paw (a kids book for younger readers) at the thrift shop for 25 cents. WOW, what a great deal! It’s one of the most creative young-readers books I’ve read in a long time. Said clearly thought about how cats would approach and perceive things that we take for granted (for instance, Varjak thinks cars are the mythical beasts called “dogs”), and the result is magical. I wish the sequel had been licensed in America–does someone in the UK want to mail me a copy?
- Lisa See. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan after seeing a trailer for the movie, and loved it. I was expecting something more childish, but it was actually very deep and emotional. I am getting into Chinese historical fiction these days, actually (I recommend Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord as well).
- Jon Ronson. I found The Psychopath Test in the New Nonfiction section at the library and gave it a try. I really liked how he writes; he had no pretense that he solved any problems or answered any big questions, but he provided a lot of information and anecdotes to ponder. It helps that he hit on my pet issue of the over-prescription of psychiatric drugs. I want to read his other books, but the library only has The Men Who Stare At Goats, which doesn’t interest me as much.
- Sara Wilson Etienne. Her first novel, Harbinger, blew me away. She needs to work on world-building, but she already has plots and characters down pat. Once again, you can see how much I adore unreliable narrators who may or may not be going crazy (which Etienne did perfectly, leaving little hints throughout the book that don’t make sense until the end), and the mystery was great. I truly can’t wait to read more from her.
Jenny Lawson. The proprietor of the Blogess blog, Lawson wrote a hilarious book called Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. You have probably read it, because everyone has read it. I mostly liked it, but if you haven’t read it, my favorite chapter in the book is also the only thing I had read of hers before I read the book (which doesn’t disqualify her for this list, because I had no idea they were the same person until I got to that chapter in the book). I am reading her blog every once in a while now. It’s not always my brand of humor, but I do giggle madly at the screen sometimes.
Veronica Roth. Now that I have realized how much I like this whole YA dystopian future genre, I’ve been discovering a lot of new authors through it. Roth’s Divergent and its sequel Insurgent are both amazing. I tore through Divergent in less than two days because I loved it so much. Tris is a GREAT character–I am a long-time critic of “empowered” female leads who are really just irrational bitches, so I absolutely love reading about a girl who is in fact brave, but is also selfless and introspective. The world is fascinating, too, although I’m not really here to give away the whole plot. I really enjoyed the exploration of how we identify virtues, and the intersection of virtue and vice, though.
- Amanda Hocking. I read her entire Trylle trilogy in a week in the summer. While I will say that the writing is a bit weak (I suspect this has to do with the series originally being self-published and not properly edited), I liked the characters and the world a lot. Trolls are not standard main characters in YA urban fantasy (they are usually relegated to villain status, if they appear at all), and Hocking presented them in a really creative way. I also love that there was a relationship that did not work out for perfectly rational reasons, although I don’t want to spoil anything.
- Ann Brashares. She is the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, although I have never read it. This year, I read her newest book, My Name is Memory, which is actually about some ideas I have pondered for topics for fiction, relating to the reincarnation of couples or soulmates rather than just individuals. While I found parts of the ending to be a bit unstatisfying, Brasheres has noted rather stridently that she wants to write a sequel, so perhaps that will clear things up. It’s a good book, though.
Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I intend to do a long review of the four books in her Tales of Goldstone Woods series right after I finish the latest one (I just started it yesterday), but I am very impressed with her work. She subtly combines classic fairy tale tropes and Christian allegory seamlessly into a completely creative story (with one notable exception that is not subtle, but I will discuss that in the review later). I just LOVE her concept of dragons.
Honorable mention: I read my first Kurt Vonnegut book, Welcome to the Monkey House, in December 2011, so he didn’t count for this list. However, I am now a huge fan. I’m kind of mad that I completely misunderstood what kind of writer he was for most of my life–I could have been reading his books years ago!