Six months into 2018, I am well on track to meet my reading goal: making sure one third of all books I read this year represent diverse perspectives. For the sake of definitions, that means books that feature religious, racial, differently-abled, gender, or sexual-orientation minorities as major, multi-faceted characters and/or were were written by authors of color. So far, I’ve read 35 books,17 of which (49%! ) meet my diversity criteria. Here are some of my favorites:
Move over, Middle Earth and Westeros—make way for Feng Lu, the epic East Asian-inspired fantasy kingdom of Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. In this first installment of the Rise of the Empress series, beautiful Xifeng chases her destiny through the Great Forest and into the halls of the imperial palace, with all its schemes and machinations, ready to do what it takes to come out on top. The reader soon learns that this may not be the story of a hero, after all, but rather the origin of a villain.
Lula Mortiz always thought her story would be a love story. What she gets instead is a zombie story. Except the zombies are actually casimuertos—they eat hearts instead of brains and are usually raised by a grieving lover. Bruja Born is the second installment of Zoraida Córdova’s Brooklyn Brujas series, focusing on Lula Mortiz, older sister to Alex, who championed the first book in the series, Labyrinth Lost.
When you’re as successful an author as Maggie Stiefvater is, you can finally start writing the weird stories, the ones that are hard to explain, hard to pitch, hard to label, but are very you. That’s what All the Crooked Saints is. A Stiefvater novel about darkness and love and pain but stripped of conventionality and playing with new genres. Continue reading “Book Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater”
The Belles was the talk of book twitter preceding its debut in February, and I must say, it lived up to the hype! Exquisite imagery dances off every page, immersing us in the world of Orléans, where a gifted few have the ability to magically alter the dull, gray appearances of their countrymen into something vivid and beautiful. The Belles control beauty. But who controls the Belles?
An arranged marriage is the last thing Dimple Shah wants. Like many second-generation Americans, Dimple sometimes has trouble seeing eye to eye with her Indian-born parents and marriage is an issue on which she certainly won’t budge. That’s why her parents don’t tell her that sending her to coding camp is really an excuse to introduce her to the son of a family friend. When Dimple finds out, she’s furious. But she also can’t help being intrigued by handsome, earnest Rishi Patel.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty is a YA/New Adult fantasy novel that takes place in the Middle East, in a distinctly Muslim setting, depicting with magic and wonder a region too often viewed with suspicion and contempt here in the U.S. I love this book for its epic world-building; Chakraborty takes the concept of djinn (a.k.a. genies), and explodes it into a complex society with its own history, prejudices, and machinations. Let me tell you all about it!
Recently, I have been making an effort to diversify and expand my reading interests beyond just the usual sci-fi/fantasy YA series. I’ve discovered some delightful books I would not have otherwise experienced and learned many new things, but at the same time also reaffirmed the value and enjoyment that I find in YA and rarely find elsewhere. There’s something about the casual infidelity, ubiquitous abuse, and general ennui that suffuses adult works that makes me long for the hopeful fighting spirit of YA novels. While I still feel a twinge of embarrassment when admitting in intellectual circles that I read more YA than “literary” works, I stand by my reading choice because it makes me happy. Here’s why: