Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
This Week’s Theme:
Books I Struggled To Get Into
(Or Put Down Because Reasons)
I typically power through what I read so I can gain a wider breadth of understanding for the subject matter when critiquing. This isn’t to say that DNF-ing doesn’t have merit but it’s just not for me. I tend to put books down with the intentions to pick it back up later so I’ll have to sort this list in two categories: (1) books I had a hard time reading but ended up finishing, and (2) books I put on hold but will end up finishing at a later date.
I will try to be as current as possible.
Struggled But Finished
Daughter of the Burning City (Amanda Foody)
Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
The thing is that the world of Gomorrah is actually one that I visually enjoyed. It’s the clunky writing and lack thereof for proper world building that didn’t work for me assuming this book is a standalone.
(I has review to come.)
Zero Repeat Forever (Gabrielle Prendergast)
He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind. Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall. His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting. Until a human kills her…
Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance. Shelter in place. Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have? Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.
So this book is like reading The 5th Wave, but even T5W wasn’t as needlessly stretched out as Zero was. (That is to say, I did like the first book in T5W more than ZRF). The painful thing in this story is that the stakes are pulled thin for so much of it with an aggravating heroine who bitches about everything to the Alien guy who literally is a doormat of instalove. I cannot. It’s next level Edward Cullen + Evan Walker vibes with this one.
(But review to come derp derp.)
Ever the Hunted (Erin Summerill)
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
In retrospect, I think I “enjoyed” this book less now than at the time of reading. What I will say is that the synopsis is like…resolved not even a quarter of the way through so it begs the question “why continue?” … because I’m a glutton for punishment. Alas. So then what we have is hours of running and being chased (but I can tell you now that there are better cat-and-mouse SF-F stories out there with more dire stakes in play.)
Last Boy and Girl in the World (Siobhan Vivian)
While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.
This book did not have to be 400 pages; especially when you begin the story with a prologue that can double as the epilogue (with a tinge of mystery as to who The Boy is). Literally the longest contemporary nonsensery I read last year.
Haaaaard pass, man. (Great cover though!)
Vassa in the Night (Sarah Porter)
In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
I’ll be honest: the writing in this story tripped me the fuck out. It’s kind of like if Purple Prose was high on drugs. (Dose that make sense? probably not.) The caveat is that I did sort-of really dig the weird vibes I got from this book. It was an experience, that’s for sure, but I can say with certainty that this isn’t for everyone.
Struggled and Put Down (For Now!)
Red Rising (Pierce Brown)
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
So. Soooooo. I started reading Red Rising in 2015 and got 40% through. Then reading obligations took over and that was real bad. So I put it down. A year later, Pierce came to Toronto re: his release of Morningstar. G r e a t, let me just start this up again. Started reading, met him, MORE DEADLINES. I’m bad this thing called reading, maaaaan.
Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson)
Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
In one such war on the ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.
I do a lot of my reading on the road when I commute to work, so…MISTAKES WERE MADE WHEN I THOUGHT I WANTED TO CARRY AROUND A 1,000+ PAGE HARDCOVER AROUND FFFFFFFFF.
Note to Self (Connor Franta)
Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he’s rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary-like look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.
This is less of a struggle as the others. I honestly just haven’t returned to because there’s no continuity to the storytelling that I have to immediately follow. It’s essays and poetry ayyyyy.
Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor)
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
Let me be clear: what you see on the sidebar that I’m still “reading” it: I’m not. I’m just lazy as heck to edit my Currently Reading. I got to a part of the story where THINGS WERE HAPPPENNINGGG
Crooked Kingdom (Leigh Bardugo)
After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.
See reasons for Red Rising and Strange the Dreamer…and then add the fact that spoilers are a very evil thing. FOREVER BITTER.
We all melt under the feeling of reading obligations.