By Rebecca Manuel
Happy Summer everyone! If the schedule that I’m looking at is correct, this post will go up on June 20th, which is officially the first day of summer. Yay summer! What this also means, what with our July hiatus, is that this is my last GMA article – ever. I will be leaving in August to return to the States and begin the next chapter in my life, scary as that is. So, since I am currently looking towards the future, I thought I would leave you not only with a book recommendation as usual – albeit a bit shorter – but also with a section of my To Be Read (TBR) list. Keep in mind that I have no idea how good these books may or may not be, because of course I have not read them yet. But maybe we can all read them and discover them together.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I never really got into Neil Gaiman despite how much everyone else seems to love him. Years ago, I tried one of his books – Stardust – after seeing and loving the movie (it’s one of my favorite movies EVER, so you all should watch it!), but the plot lagged and the characters were much less interesting on the page than they were on the screen. So I figured maybe Neil Gaiman just wasn’t for me. Then, just a few weeks ago, I went to Okinawa for Golden Week and decided to stop at a bookstore that supposedly had a good selection of English books. The “good selection” turned out to be rather limited. So faced with the choice of no books versus a rather intriguing but potentially disappointing Neil Gaiman book, I decided to try out Neil Gaiman again.
Dang, am I happy I did.
The Graveyard Book throws you right into the story with no preamble. A man named Jack has just murdered three out of four members of a family and is heading into the fourth member’s room, the fourth member being a little boy, just a toddler. But upon arriving in the room, Jack realizes that the boy is not there. The boy, apparently quite an escape artist, has climbed out of his crib and wandered out through the open front door. The boy eventually wanders into a graveyard, where he is taken in by the ghosts of the people who are buried there and named Nobody, or Bod for short. And the rest of the novel follows Bod’s adventures throughout his childhood as he grows into a teenager, learns to work the various powers granted him by his acceptance into the graveyard, and finally confronts his greatest adventure yet.
I feel like my description of this book doesn’t do it justice. The tone is so quirky, but in a style that I’ve never read before. The plot is unpredictable because Gaiman never gives you all the information, but yet he manages to do this in a way that makes complete sense. Bod himself is fearless – for what reason does he have to fear death when the people he considers his family are all dead? But he is nevertheless intelligent and strong and has a hunger for knowledge and truth and justice. It’s such a good book. I literally – and I mean literally – have nothing bad to say about it. Go read it. Right now. Do it.
Sequel of an Old Book – Clariel by Garth Nix
I read the first book in this series, Sabriel, way back in middle school, maybe even elementary school seeing as it was published in 1996. From then all the way through high school, I would reread it (and its two sequels, after they were released) once every year because I loved it that much. Once I entered college, I stopped, and I didn’t even remember that there was going to be another sequel until a few months ago. Needless to say, this is first on my TBR for a reason.
Sequel of a (more) Recently Read Book – Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks
If you’ve been following my book recommendations from the beginning, you might remember that I wrote about the first book in this series, The Way of Shadows. It’s a wonderful book, but not exactly light reading. Recently, I’ve been into a bit lighter, more young adult reading, but I can feel my mood starting to change, so maybe I’ll finally be able to pick up the next book in this series.
Contemporary (with a hint of fantasy) – Yellow by Megan Jacobson
I only found out about this book because my Australian friend added it to her TBR on her Goodreads account. I don’t really know anything about Australian literature, but this book sounds intriguing. It’s about a girl whose life kind of sucks – she’s bullied at school by her “friends,” her dad left her mom for another woman, and her mom slipped into alcoholism after he left. Then, a ghost starts talking to the girl through a broken phone booth, so they make a deal where she will figure out who murdered him and he will help fix her life. And if that doesn’t grab your interest, just look at that pretty cover.
Fantasy Romance (without sacrificing plot and character development, according to a review) – The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
This one’s about a female jinni who must choose between either freedom from her lamp or the boy with whom she’s falling in love. It sounds rather basic, but something in the full book description gives me the impression that it’s going to be a lot more complex, and this impression is for the most part supported by the reviews. So I figure I’ll give it a go.
Dystopian – Legend by Marie Lu
This book is super popular with over 20,000 reviews and over 200,000 ratings on Goodreads, and it has been on my TBR for ages, but I just haven’t gotten around to reading it. It’s the first book in a series set in a dystopian future and is essentially about how a criminal from the slums and a military prodigy from an elite family come together and discover some dangerous secret about their country.
Fairy Tale – The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Written by one of the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles, this is supposedly a dark fairy tale, although not a retelling. I’m not really sure about this one, because it seems like people either love or hate Holly Black’s writing. But the premise – which includes faeries, a boy with horns and pointed ears asleep in a glass coffin in the woods (that is, until he suddenly isn’t), and a brother and sister who were both in love with the boy as children – is intriguing.
I Keep Meaning to Read – Wicked by Gregory Maguire
I’m pretty everyone knows about Wicked, given the popularity of the Broadway musical, which I love. I think I’ve been a little afraid to read it because I just love the musical so much. But everyone I know who has read it says it’s wonderful, so it’s going to stay on my TBR until I actually read it.
Reread – The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
I haven’t read this series in years, and it recently dawned on me that I can’t really remember the plot anymore. All I remember is the power-hungry protagonist Nathaniel and the snarky djinni Bartimaeus and the fact that I loved it, which is enough to put it back on my TBR.
Last order of business, before I wrap this up: Once I leave, this
column will have no one to continue it, which is very sad. So I’m sending out a plea for any of you book lovers out there to please apply to continue A Novel Idea! Even if your vision for the column is different from mine, just go for it! Even if you aren’t actively reading right now, I’m sure you have books that you’ve read in the past that we’d all like to hear about, so just go for it! Even if you’ve never read that much but just want to get into reading, just go for it!
Books and stories are what give life color. I hope I have managed to give anyone who actually reads my column even a little bit of that color. I have very much enjoyed sharing some of my favorite books with you, be they new favorites or old ones. In fact, writing for you has helped reinvigorate my love of reading. So for that, and for reading my column, thank you.
To check out the other books that I’ve read and the rest of my TBR, head over to my Goodreads page here.
If you read any of the books I mentioned, or if you have a different book that you’d like to recommend, please send your thoughts/review to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is Rebecca, for the last time, signing off. Over and out!