2015 has been a year where I read from two genres that are somewhat outside my comfort zone. I think I read quite widely, but up to now I have for the most part given two giants in the book world a wide berth: Young Adult and Fantasy literature.
YA scared me off because my impression was that it was inevitably paired with romance. I can stand romance thrown in here and there and make exception for a few books, but yeah not everyone is romantically inclined and the stuff is everywhere. But a few books I enjoyed this year were YA and they convinced me to read more next year.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
I really liked this one, the atmosphere, the narrative style, the what’s-going-on? I expected a bit more from the hype, but that always builds up expectations way too much, and it’s a really interesting one regardless.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
One the the best books I read this year, beautifully written, and even though it’s a love story there is hardly any romance. I usually make exceptions for diverse books, but this is a YA love story I would have probably also read if it was about a straight couple.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A fantastic premise and an enjoyable book, though I do wish the author would have used the setting more. My interest in the love story with the Prince was basically zero, so I skimmed a few pages. But at least Cinder saves herself.
As for fantasy, I was mostly fine with science-fiction, but the images of fantasy lit I had in mind were dwarves, fairies, elves, epic epics that hardly ever end, drawn-out battle scene that make me yawn. I know, I know! But I think some of the older covers are also to blame. I’m still not especially interested in all of that, but thankfully I read some amazing books this year that chipped away at my ignorance. Not sure where they fall in the categories fantasy and speculative fiction, but some had fairies and unicorns, so there.
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
This is the 5th book or so in the series and I enjoyed all of them. They are not perfect, I’m glad we left the friend zone problem in book 1. The characters are wonderfuly diverse, Aaronovitch makes whiteness visible and Peter Grant is one snarky apprentice. Also, in this one there were unicorns. Invisible unicorns. And fairies. And it was grand!
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
This one Eva wrote about and I just had to give it a try. It’s kind of urban fantasy with magical realism and Caribbean folklore. There’s post-apocalyptic Toronto, drug lords, family ties, voodo deities, sketchy organ donation and strong Black women. I’m up for that!
Rosemary and Rue Seanan McGuire
Another recommendation by Eva. Maguire sets up this really cool world of fairies and those unfortunate enough to be born changelings, who will always be outsiders. One changeling, Toby Daye, goes into the PI business and I gave it a try because of the mystery angle. But I really liked the world-building, critique of hierarchies and the PI thing, though things turned much darker than I expected. I think urban fantasy is my comfort zone in fantasy so far 🙂
What did you read outside your comfort zone this year? Any recommendation for YA minus romance and good fantasy reads? I know I’ll want to read more of these genres now!