Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fantabulous Fiction of 2005

If you’re truly book obsessive (like I am) then you keep track of all the books you read, jotting down the titles in a little notebook so at the end of the year you can look over what you read and decide which you liked the best. I just counted up my reads of 2005 and discovered that of the 136 books I read, 77 of them were teen titles. (Did I really read 136 books?! That’s what the notebook says.) Some of the 76 books were good, some so-so, and some outright bad. But others were fantabulous. Here are some I really liked:

Five Fantabulous Books of 2005

#1 The Minister’s Daughter by Julie Hearn. Go read this book right now! It’s a blend of historical fiction, dark faery, romance and adventure. I loved-loved-loved-loved-loved this book. Dark faery, witchcraft, betrayal. . . all of this plus a really cool chicken. (You’re going to have to read it to learn what that means.) Also, it’s got a lovely cover, and you’ve got to love a lovely cover.

#2 Mr Was by Pete Hautman. It’s hard to go wrong with Pete Hautman. This is one of his earlier books, about a kid who discovers a way to escape his dysfunctional family---by disappearing into time through a doorway that takes him fifty years into the past. Gotta be careful when you go back in time though. You might find yourself in a bizarre love triangle. And if that love triangle happens during World War II, you could find yourself in deeper trouble than expected.

#3 Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black. I love books about fairies, but not the good sweet kind who sail around gardens smiling and picking berries. I like dark faery, the kind you find in old Irish mythology, the kind of faery that might imprison you for eternity on a whim, or curse you to dance endlessly, or feed you rotten garabge magicked to appear as delectable food. This is the kind of faery Holly Black deals in. In this book a teenage runaway begins living in the subway systems of New York, only to discover a wicked drug that’s tied to a realm of banished faeries. Good stuff here.

#4 Inside the Walls of Troy by Clemence McLaren. The story of the Trojan War through the eyes of two of its most famous women, Helen and Cassandra. Exciting, beautifully written, tragic and gripping. Go read this right now too.

#5 Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis. One of the funnier books I read this year, about a kid who lives in a bad part of Flint, Michigan who has to contend with his overbearing, slum lord mother, The Sarge. Luther looks for a way to get out from under his mother’s thumb while holding down an illegal job, evicting one of his own classmates, trying to say something to the girl he likes, helping his best friend in a harebrained scheme to win a fake lawsuit, and above all to win the science fair competition that means so much to him. It’s truly hilarious. You’ll love Luther. You will not love the Sarge. . . but you might love to hate her.

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