Havenfall by Sara Holland
To be honest, I went into this book not expecting any more than your standard YA fantasy will deliver–your bookish, shy protagonist, love triangle, and, I don’t know, some sexy elves or something. But boy, did this book take me by surprise–in the best way possible.
It follows Madeline Morrow, whose family runs an inn in a small, remote town called Havenfall. Although this inn looks ordinary from the outside, it serves as a meeting ground between three magical realms every summer, for a peace summit. Maddie loves this inn, and fantasizes about growing old there, in this town she feels so safe in. Until everything goes wrong–and that dream comes true, in the worst way possible.
What’s so fascinating about this book is how well it twists the normal fantasy adventure format completely on its head. Maddie never actually enters any of the fantasy worlds she knows so well, and has no real desire to. Despite that, though, the lands of Fiordenkill, Byrn, and Solaria are still fully developed, and feel very rich and real.
It’s one of those worlds you just want to get lost in forever.
The Dragonet Prophecy By Tui T. Sutherland
If you’ve taken even the tiniest peek at my Wattpad page you know that I am a pretty big Wings of Fire fan. The series meant a lot to me growing up, and honestly got me through some really dark times.
So what is Wings of Fire, you ask? Well, it’s a middle grade series, set in the world of Pyrhhia–and what’s so interesting about it is that rather than being these cool side characters or plot devices, the dragons are the protagonists, with their own thoughts and hopes and dreams. The first arc centres around five young dragons who have spent their whole lives underneath a mountain, who have been supposedly prophesied to save the world, and somehow stop a war that’s been raging for almost twenty years, and is tearing apart the continent. The only issue is, they don’t really know how to do that.
The series follows them along their adventures, as they come to terms with their past, and find the courage to make their own futures.
Each book is told from a different dragon’s perspective so even if you don’t like one of the protagonists, there’s something for everyone.
This series has meant so much to me throughout the years. And I know it might seem a bit childish, but it makes me happy, and that’s all that matters.
There are a lot of books–which I’ve been currently doing a massive reread of. The Dragonet Prophecy is the first one, so make sure to start with it if you want to check it out.
Artemis By Andy Weir
In seventh grade, I read The Martian–aloud to my whole family. It was kind of our thing back then, back when I had enough time and energy to read aloud to my parents for hours on end. Anyhow, it was pretty much my favourite thing in the world at that age. I always meant to check this book out, but I just never got around to it until now, I guess.
Artemis is set in the city of–you guessed it, Artemis, a moon colony, described as being the home to wealthy tourists, eccentric billionaires, and the impoverished working class. Our protagonist, Jazz Bashara, falls into the latter category. She emigrated when she was six from Saudi Arabia to Artemis. After leaving home at around sixteen, she had to resort to smuggling, in addition to her day job to make ends meet. Through this, she ends up getting tangled up in this whole web of crime, and I won’t say any more than that because I don’t want to spoil you and also I suck at summaries, but basically, this book is my favourite genre: fuck capitalism in space.
I don’t know if this was intentional or not–but this book defines the Gen-Z/Millennial experience of growing up in a world set against you, and it’s not afraid to discuss the “us against them” mentality that experience tends to induce, and the moral grey areas financial desperation can push you to.
This book is heartfelt and smart and funny and true, and I would 100% recommend checking it out. 🙂
Wilder Girls By Rory Power
I picked up this book a little while ago at my local bookshop, and since than it’s become one of my favourite books of all time. I got home, and read the whole thing in one fell swoop–which I don’t do often, but it was so good I just couldn’t bear to stop reading.
Despite being set in the modern age, this book kinda has the same vibes as those “Victorian child school drama” books, as my friend likes to call them–you know the ones I’m talking about! Like, historical fiction books in which the main characters felt absolutely nothing beyond mild satisfaction or discomfort, and wore knee-length plaid skirts and Mary Janes. Except Wilder Girls is a lot more badass and feminist. (And psychological-thriller-y.)
Wilder Girls is the story of Raxter School for Girls, a boarding school located on a remote island. This school used to be your nothing more than your idyllic, mildly creepy boarding school, until the Tox hit;a disease turning the bodies of these girls into something strange, mutated, and not quite their own. (Some of them have lost eyes, some of them have grown tails, or gills, and many have died in the process.) They have been quarantined on Raxter Island, their only contact to the outside world the shipments of food that are dropped on the shore. (I know, it sounds a lot like the current COVID situation–and there are definitely similarities, but it’s not as on-the-nose as it sounds, and the Tox is definitely its own independently horrifying disease.)
Right away, what stood out to me was the beautiful writing style. It’s hard to describe–lavish, and yet sparse, emotional and distant. It’s one of my favourite books of 2020, and no matter who you are, or what your normal taste in books is, you need to check this out.
Okay! I think that about wraps it up. I really loved just geeking out about all these books, to be honest Shoutout Saturday posts are so fun to write and always cheer me up. I really hope you’ll check all of these books out, they just make me so happy.
Lots of love,