I’ve loved books since before I could even read and even though I didn’t have as much time for reading last year as I wish I had had, I still managed to get through quite a few. These novels weren’t necessarily published in 2015, but I do believe they all came out quite recently, so you might have heard of them already. Deciding on five books honestly took me ages since there are so many more that would also have deserved to be mentioned, but I’m quite happy with the ones I chose in the end, so enjoy the reviews!
1. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
When Theodore Finch, who suffers from depression, is fascinated by death and has been playing with the thought of killing himself for a long time, encounters Violet on the top of the school’s bell tower one day, both of their lives are turned upside down. Violet’s sister has recently been killed in a car accident which she still blames herself for and it’s only with Finch where she can truly be herself again. As Finch convinces Violet to step out of the comfort of her group of popular friends and be his partner for a geography school project and they explore the whole of Indiana, an extraordinary romance starts to grow…
This book deals with mental illness in an incredibly true-to-life way and genuinely makes you understand what dealing with it means. The main characters both have very interesting personalities and are extremely sophisticated and well worked out, which I personally believe to be one of the most important aspects when it comes to novels as being able to get attached to characters always makes stories a lot more personal. I additionally like that the perspectives are switched throughout the book, so that you get the chance to perceive what’s happening from two different points of view. “All The Bright Places” is one of those novels that truly make you feel with its characters and get lost in their world. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that it’s definitely not an easy read because it deals with rather heavy themes and might even be triggering for some people, but if you feel like you’re okay with that, I absolutely recommend to read it as it’s one of the most special, profound and emotional books I’ve ever read and I couldn’t stop thinking about it even weeks after finishing it.
Favourite Quote: “I learned that there is good in this world, if you look hard enough for it. I learned that not everyone is disappointing, including me, and that a 1,257-foot bump in the ground can feel higher than a bell tower if you’re standing next to the right person.”
2. How They Met And Other Stories by David Levithan
As you might already know, David Levithan has become my absolute favourite author throughout the past two years and even though I still haven’t read all of his works (this guy is like a publishing machine, it’s literally insane how many books he’s brought out), I got through several books of his in 2015 and let me tell you – picking only one of them for this post was nearly impossible. In the end, I went with “How They Met And Other Stories” simply because it includes 18 equally perfect stories and totally got me into liking short stories again. I can’t even begin to explain to you how much in love I am with every single one of them, my favourite one being “What A Song Can Do”, and commenting on them would only feel wrong, so all I’m gonna say is that they represent love (queer and straight, which I think is absolutely amazing!) in the most beautiful way and you’re truly missing out if you haven’t read them yet.
Favourite Quote: “Our moments are music, and sometimes – just sometimes – we can catch them and put them into some lasting form. If we didn’t have music, I don’t think we could ever be truly happy, and if we didn’t have special moments, we would never find music.”
3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor has just moved into town, lives in a tiny house together with her chaotic family and abusive stepfather, wears strange clothes matching her messy red hair and couldn’t be any more salient. When Park first sees her step onto the bus and grudgingly offers her the seat next to him, he doesn’t even intend to talk to her, but his initial reluctance soon turns into attachment. After some weeks, they begin to exchange first shy conversations, mixtapes and comic books and it doesn’t take long until they not only find love, but also an overwhelming sense of solace, belonging and affiliation.
You might think this is another perfectly arranged love stories, but it’s actually the opposite, which only makes it more beautiful. Eleanor is not one of those popular high school girls, neither a dark and poetic mystery, but a simple girl with lots of problems that can’t easily be solved. Although Park has a stable family life, he still struggles with finding his way in the world, which makes the story a lot more authentic than most other YA novels I know. Every conversation between Eleanor and Park seems almost poetical and the way they talk about each other really makes you believe in true love again.
Favourite Quote:“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
4. The Drowning Of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes
Arthur’s mum has left him years ago, his dad has completely lost the plot and after yet another bullying incident, the only solution he sees is taking his own life. When he aimlessly walks around the beach near an abandoned swimming bath called “The Oracle”, he hears someone sing and feels himself being drawn to the old victorian building. Inside, he finds a naked woman called Delphina floating around in a pool and is instantly paralysed by her beauty.
The story of Arthur, Delphina and her peculiar friends is told from various points of views, each of them written in a characteristic style. Throughout the book, the reader gets new information piece by piece which enables them to solve the mystery behind “The Oracle” by bits. By combining the reality of a boy living in a typical town near Manchester and aspects of Greek mythology, the author manages to create a beautifully dark, tragic and unique atmosphere that isn’t comparable with any other novel.
Favourite quote: “When you fall in love with someone, I reckon it’s like they become your unicorn. (…) And when they’re your unicorn, you believe in them, in their beauty. You believe in them being the most precious, the most fragile person ever created.”
5. Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira
When Laurel’s English teacher asks her class to write a letter to a dead person, Laurel chooses to address hers to Kurt Cobain, because he died just as young as her sister May. She soon writes to more and more famous dead people, opening up to them and telling them about whatever is going on in her life. But as much as she tries to focus on the present, the past always seems to come back to haunt her.
I guess what makes this book one of my favourites is above all the general idea of telling a story in letters, which first reminded me of “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower”, but the two books actually couldn’t be any more different. Even though one might say the beginning is a bit slow, there’s something about this novel that makes you unable to put it down. If you decide to read it, definitely have some tissues ready when you get to the end, it’s just as heartbreaking as beautiful!
Favourite Quote: “What I told you about saving people isn’t true. You might think it is, because you might want someone else to save you, or you might want to save someone so badly. But no one else can save you, not really. Not from yourself. (…) You fall asleep in the foothills, and the wolf comes down from the mountains. And you hope someone will wake you up. Or chase it off. Or shoot it dead. But when you realize that the wolf is inside you, that’s when you know. You can’t run from it. And no one who loves you can kill the wolf, because it’s part of you. They see your face on it. And they won’t fire the shot.”
I hope these reviews were at least a bit helpful, let me know whether you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned and what you think of them. I’m also open for new recommendations if you have any and can’t wait to read even more in 2016! (Guess who already spent most of her Christmas money on books, haha.)