So, this is it. 2017 has come to an end. To be frank, I’m not sad to see it go. This year has thrown so many obstacles my way, and as if that wasn’t enough, I found the quality of the books I read to be quite lacking as well. There were a couple of gems among my reads I’d like to talk about, but first, let me give you a quick overview of my 2017 in general.
Life in 2017. I could write an essay about the things that made me feel sad, angry, or helpless this year. But I do not wish to dwell on the negative experiences I had this year. Instead, I’d like to mention a few things that brought me joy or made me proud: I made new friends in and across fields of study at my university. I worked hard and reaped the reward in form of very good grades. I took a class to improve my Spanish. I went skiing a lot last winter, so I spent a lot of time doing a sport I love with people I love. I travelled to several cities and countries in Europe I’d never been to – including Valencia, Edinburgh, London, and the Cyclades (Greece) – and got to visit my co-blogger Chantal in the UK for the first time since she’d moved there to pursue her studies. I also experienced one positive thing related to the painful cards 2017 has dealt me: The unwavering support of family and friends.
Books in 2017. In terms of books, I’ve read more diversely this year, but not necessarily because I picked more diverse genres. At least half of the books I read were of the fantasy genre, which means that diversity is not something that is reserved for contemporaries anymore. It makes me so happy that we now encounter diverse individuals across genres. This is a step forward in the battle for realistic representation in literature. I ended up reaching my goal of reading 50 books but it was close! I read 22 books featuring people of ethnicities other than Caucasian as their main characters and half of those were people of colour. I read 17 books featuring LGBTQ+ characters. I read books by 21 authors who identify as members of minority groups. I read at least 7 books featuring mental health issues or disabilities, and 3 books with disfigured characters. I read 3 short stories, two comic books, and a poetry collection. To draw a conclusion to my reading of 2017, I’d like to present and talk about the five books that impressed me or stuck with me most this year. The books are ordered alphabetically and clicking on the titles will lead you to my reviews of the respective books.
A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab
What was the word for parting?
That was it.
Until another day.
A Conjuring of Light was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and it did not disappoint. I know many readers were dissatisfied with some of the plotting, and some points of criticism are certainly valid. I enjoyed the first book, but was missing some more character depth and background. I enjoyed the second book, which improved in character-building, but at the expense of the plot. I enjoyed the third book, which got both of those right, so I decided to go with five stars for ACOL. What I loved most about this book (besides Holland, my morally grey smol son) was that it practically hummed with emotion. Schwab delivered all the feels on a silver platter, overriding the minor issues I had. ACOL is the firework-finale to an exciting series that was an adventure from start to finish. And it all started with a peculiar coat.
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
I’m a bloodydamn Helldiver with an army of giant, mildly psychotic women behind me and a fleet of state-of-the-art warships crewed by pissed-off pirates, engineers, techs, and former slaves.
I suffered so many heart attacks reading this series, it’s not even funny anymore. Pierce Brown is a genius in the devil’s disguise, for his plot twists are unforseeable and cruel. Let’s get real: Morning Star is a masterpiece of adult sci-fi literature, and it had me on the edge of my seat for every single chapter. The final instalment was darker, grittier, and bloodier than the previous instalments. The love for detail that went into this book is practically palpable. There is not a single word, sentence, or scene in this book that doesn’t contribute massively to the overall plot, which is testimony to Pierce Brown’s tremendous plotting. This book is brilliant. This whole series is brilliant. From joy to anguish, I’ve felt everything during this read. I wholeheartedly recommend picking up this incredible series!
Now I Rise by Kiersten White
“Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”
If you’re looking for a Young Adult novel that combines a Vlad the Impaler reimagining with a rich historical setting and a glorious feminist storyline, then The Conqueror’s Saga is your address. Compared to And I Darken, the sequel is grittier and bloodier. The stakes are raised, as each sibling yearns and fights to be something their harsh world will not permit them to be. What speaks to me about the heroine’s storyline is that she prioritises her homeland and her birthright over romance, which really underpins the feminism of this series. Similar to the first book, Now I Rise ended with a cliffhanger that had me flailing because of the awesomeness that is Lada Dragwyla.
Piecing Me Together by René Watson
I try to let the music wash away that feeling that comes when white people make you feel special or stupid for no good reason. I don’t know how to describe that feeling, just to say that it’s kind of like cold, sunny days. Something is discomforting about a sun that gives not heat but keeps shining.
Piecing Me Together is an excellent example of a gem standing in the shadow of a more popular release on the same societal issues. However, while The Hate U Give addresses systematic racism and blunt police violence, this book tackles daily microaggressions as well as class divides with in race, which was pretty much a novelty to me. It is a quiet, slow, and character-driven book about self-love, dreams, friendship, and the power of art. Learning to speak up is a major anchor point of Jade’s character development, a theme that really speaks to me in contemporaries. Piecing Me Together takes a unique and excellent standpoint on issues of race, social status, and their impact within and across race and class. It is a coming-of-age story with an engaging, multi-faceted narration and a powerful message. Though slow, I had a fantastic reading experience with this book, and this should stand for something, since contemporary is not my go-to genre.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and the bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.
Whereas the previous books required some thought prior to rating them, The Hate U Give instantly made the list of my favourite reads of 2017. It’s not that this book was better than the other reads on this list, but rather that the excellence of this book does not need an in-depth analysis, in my opinion. This one was a no-brainer. This refreshing, daunting new voice deserves all the hype it’s (still!) getting. Tackling police violence against black American individuals and societal, systematic racism, The Hate U Give instantly hooked me. I loved the narration (including the slang), the multi-layered characters and their dynamics, the realistic plotting, the portrayal of racial divides in an interracial relationship and toxic friendships. This book has enriched the literature on prejudice (on both sides!), racism, and privilege. To be honest, I’ve rarely been this impressed by a debut novel.
I hope you enjoyed reading this compilation of my best reads of 2017 and that you had a good (reading) year altogether. Thank you for supporting this blog by reading our content! This means so much to the both of us. I wish you all a Happy New Year – may your 2018 be filled with moments of happiness, thrilling adventures, success, good health, and suspenseful books! 🙂