I get it. Contemporaries aren’t your thing. Trust me when I say they aren’t mine either. In fact, I never chose to read them of my own accord until this past year. Can you believe that? Twenty-two years spent ignoring an entire genre! (We won’t talk about thriller/suspense novels…) BUT this year I made the life-changing discovery of a few books that even this fantasy-obsessed reader could get on board with and I obviously need to share with y’all in case you, like me, find the contemporary genre to be a struggle.
Now if you follow me over on Twitter (and even Instagram to some extent) you’ve probably heard me talk about these books so y’all already know the deal and how awesome they are but for those of you just joining us… shall we begin?
First up are two books by the same author, both of which are amazing and diverse and beautiful and super fluffy but also deep (because that’s totally possible, trust me). I first became acquainted with Becky Albertalli’s work when I picked up an ARC of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in a used bookstore one summer. I didn’t read it until the next year and I’m not really sure why I picked it out of the million and a half books on my TBR, but I did, and I finished it within a few hours. More accurately, I devoured it. Albertalli is a master with the written world and as I wrote in my review of SIMON VS, “The story is solely Simon’s but infinitely everyone’s” (and yes, I’m totally quoting myself). And it’s true. I think every reader can find something to relate to in this story about a boy who’s finding himself in the vast universe that is high school and growing up.
Albertalli does it again in The Upside of Unrequited, which released last month, with Molly’s story. I honestly think this one hit me even harder than SIMON VS. These books need to be required reading, ESPECIALLY for teens. Goodness, if I had this book when I was in high school… well I think I would have had a slightly different experience. It’s that kind of book. UPSIDE is the book for all of you who felt awkward in high school, who were unsure about friends and love and everything in-between, who never quite fit in with what the world wanted you to be. This is the book that will sing to your soul. And to the critics who say that young adult fiction isn’t “good” fiction (and yeah, it sucks that some people out there actually THINK this, like what?!), tell them to read this book.
These other two titles that I have for you today happen to be one of my top reads of 2016 and one from 2017 (so far), which is saying something because everything else on those lists falls somewhere in the realm of speculative fiction. Last year, Mindy McGinnis released her book The Female of the Species which took me for a roller coaster of a read and resulted in what I believe is my longest raving review to-date. This book WRECKED ME. FEMALE hits on a lot of stereotypes and completely bashes them into the ground through its alternating perspectives. It definitely hit home for me with certain aspects but much like SIMON VS and UPSIDE, has something to offer everything. But be warned: while those first couple books are pretty light, this one has a pretty big dark streak to it.
And finally, one of this year’s top reads for me: Geekerella by Ashley Poston. I mean, what did you expect combining a Cinderella re-telling with a science fiction fandom and convention. COME ON IT WAS GOING TO BE AMAZING WE ALL KNOW THIS. And it was. Like, in the most adorable but also society-breaking way. GEEKERELLA is both out of this world and completely down to earth. I think that’s part of its charm. Add the fact that it’s based around Starfield, a sci-fi show that I’m sure we can all relate to with Star Trek (no? just me?), it has enough of a fantastical edge for even the most stubborn of fantasy readers (hah…like me…promise you’re not alone?).
These are some of the books I read this year that, while they didn’t work for ME, I think they definitely have readers out there. I know, I know, why would I recommend books that I didn’t like? WELL… I am a firm believer that there is a reader out there for every book and even though they didn’t work for me, they might be something of interest to y’all and deserve mentioning at the very least. You can read more about Things I Should Have Known, Definitions of Indefinable Things, and How to Make a Wish by clicking their respective links!