Sunday, September 20

Quarantine Fiction Book Recommendations: for (almost) every genre

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With the increased amount of free time I have had over the past month, I have found myself relying on books as a means of passing the time and as a way to escape reality. Reading has served as a nice break from the time I spend all day on my computer doing school work, and I have found it to be very relaxing as well as entertaining during these times. Here are my favorite books that I have read so far during the shelter-in-place, and whether or not you are a prolific reader, I highly recommend picking up one of these books and giving it a read. Enjoy!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab- Paranormal Fiction

Courtesy of Barnes and Nobles

Vicious follows college seniors Victor and Eli as they work on their senior thesis project together about ‘ExtraOrdinaries’, humans who have acquired supernatural abilities due to a near-death experience. As they delve deeper into their research and begin experimenting to test their theories, things quickly go wrong. Told between alternating time periods of their senior year in college and ten years later, the events of what really happened Victor and Eli’s senior year are not revealed until the end of the story. I found this to be a very intriguing read with a unique plot I had never seen in another book before. I was hooked from the very first page, mainly due to my confusion as to why the first chapter takes place in a graveyard, ten years in the future. However, as the story unfolded and I was familiarized with the characters, I found the alternate time period narrative format extremely entertaining, keeping me turning the page to find out what happens next. Additionally, I found myself heavily in the characters-Victor and Eli both proving to be extremely complex characters with many different sides to themselves that are seen as the book progressed. One theme throughout the book was the idea of being ‘heroic’, like a superhero out of a comic book- I found it very interesting how this book explored that idea of being a hero, calling into question what is truly ‘good’ and what is truly ‘evil’. Overall, I highly recommend Vicious to anyone looking for a fast-paced, gritty read with vivid characters and a unique storyline.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson- Sci-Fi

Courtesy of Amazon

On a planet where remnants of the human race are trapped and constantly attacked by mysterious alien enemies known as the Krell, seventeen year old Spensa dreams of becoming a pilot and to fight back. However, due to her late father’s mysterious betrayal of his fighter pilot squad at the infamous Battle of Alta against the Krell, Spensa’s chance at her dream is ruined, as she is unable to escape her father’s humiliating legacy. When Spensa discovers an ancient ship wreckage with artificial intelligence that can talk to her and finds an ally in one of her father’s old flightmates, Spensa could actually have a chance at becoming a pilot at the Defiant Defense Force (DDF) academy. As Spensa navigates becoming a pilot, she additionally begins to uncover what really happened to her father at the Battle of Alta, and it could hold the secret to why the Krell are trapping  them there in the first place. While reading, what really stood out to me about Skyward was the amazing cast of characters Sanderson created. Spensa, the main character, makes for a great heroine with her strong spirit and determination, along with her sense of humor. M-Bot, the AI from the ship Spensa discovers, serves as a very entertaining and unique character- with the banter between Spensa and M-Bot being very fun to follow. Other memorable characters included Spensa’s flightmates: from the bossy flight captain Jorgen, to overly positive Kimmalayn, and the aggressively passionate Hudiya, and several more. The dynamic between Spensa and her flightmates was very interesting to see unfold, with each character bringing a unique personality that made for entertaining conversation among the flight squad. It almost felt rewarding in a sense to see the bonds between Spensa and her flightmates grow as the story progressed- the closer they became, the better pilots they were. With Sanderson’s descriptive, easy-to-follow writing style, it allowed for an extremely engaging read- specifically in regards to the action-packed battle scenes that kept me turning the page. Whether you are into Sci-Fi novels, or not, I highly recommend giving Skyward a read. It quickly has become one of my favorite books after reading because of the incredible characters and immersive writing.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman- Dystopian/Fantasy

Courtesy of Goodreads

Taking place in a world in which humanity has conquered hunger, disease, war, misery and death, reading Scythe serves as an extraordinary escape from reality. Having conquered so much, the only visible problem faced by society is the ever-growing population. To combat the incessantly growing population, society has Scythes, people of high morals and acclaim tasked with gleaning (aka killing) citizens to control the population. Scythes are free to choose their methods of gleaning: including how they do it, who they glean, and when they do it, etc. Scythe follows main characters Citra and Rowan, teenagers who both have just begun their apprenticeship as Scythes under the highly regarded and powerful Scythe Faraday. As Citra and Rowan reluctantly navigate adjusting to their new lives as Scythe apprentices, they are met with many severe challenges that could lead to extreme consequences, causing them to question their own morals and the world around them. I found Scythe a refreshing change from the typical Dystopian novel formula, as the way the story unfolded was extremely unique and entertaining. It was at times slow as the actual plot took a while to happen, through the vivid writing and intriguing concepts of the world made up for it. The pace drastically picks up however, and I constantly found myself shocked by some events that happen in the book. This is the kind of read where you can’t stop thinking about the book whenever you’re not reading. I would specifically reflect on the dynamic between different Scythes,  intrigued by the conflicts that occurred among them and how it showed how each Scythe has different beliefs and moral interpretations. I recommend Scythe to anyone looking for a thought-provoking, powerful read. I listened to the audiobook of Scythe, and I highly recommend that format for this read, as it helped to improve parts when the pacing is a bit slower.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson- Contemporary

Courtesy of Goodreads

I’ll Give You the Sun tells the story of twins Jude and Noah. Their story is told in different parts, with Noah narrating the past when they were thirteen and Jude narrating present when they are sixteen. Though initially inseparable, years later they are barely speaking to one another after a devastating event happens to the twins: changing both of them drastically in opposite ways. As they go about these changes, Noah and Jude slowly find their way back to one another. This is an extremely powerful read about sibling relationships, growing up, grief, and finding your way back to those you once thought lost. I found it best to go into this book without knowing much detail about the plot or characters, as it allowed for me to really see the story develop in full force. Nelson created a truly beautiful story with Noah and Jude’s relationship and seeing it unfold through alternating time periods caused me to be immersed in the book’s world. One thing I particularly enjoyed about this book was its emphasis on the role of art in one’s life. Nelson’s incorporation of art throughout the book had such a strong impact on the characters, and it shows how the characters are all connected. Noah and Jude are both artists, and their journey as artists coincide with their  search for their own identities. Additionally, a recurring symbol throughout the book is the sun, serving as a metaphor for Noah and Jude’s relationship and how they rekindle their relationship. I found the emphasis placed on art and the sun’s symbolism to be very unique elements of the book that contributed a significant amount  to the story’s impact. Nelson’s writing style is very vivid and full of passion, containing many descriptive metaphors and colorful imagery. With an interesting narrative format, amazing writing, and a complex sibling relationship, I highly recommend I’ll Give You the Sun to anyone looking for an impactful and beautiful yet heart-wrenching read. 

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About Author

Emma Cahill

Emma is a junior in her second year of Oracle. As the photo editor for Oracle, she has a passion for photography, and also enjoys reading, writing, running and playing volleyball on the school's varsity team.

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