Continuing on with my Top Ten of 2011, here are entries five through to the number one spot. If you’re looking for ten to six then head over HERE.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is just a truly great story that plays itself out through classic story tropes such as good Vs evil and love prevailing. A story of Karou, a girl raised by demonic looking Chimaera, she doesn’t know who she actually is and her life is invaded by an angel who captures her attention. At its root it is a wonderful love story but with none of the sappy nonsense, nor Twilight level of emotions.
What stands out is Taylor’s imagination for Karou’s world with magic portals that transport her around the world, teeth that are delivered to Karou’s guardian (the devilish Brimstone) that become wishes and the descriptions of the angels that enter Karou’s life. It’s hard to do justice to such a wonderful book; I even struggled in my review.
I loved this book before Richard and Judy got their grubby little daytime mitts on it. After having the book recommended to me by my favourite Waterstones bookseller it languished on my TBR list for a couple of months before I had the time for it. I really wish I hadn’t waited, the novel is just sublime. The plot revolves around a young girl named Rose who, very suddenly, is able to read a person’s emotions and inner feelings by eating the food that they prepare.
It begins with the Lemon Cake that her Mother makes and as she tastes bitter despair and misery Rose becomes scared of her ability. The story that emerges is of a dysfunctional family but seen from the eyes of a child. There are some wonderful moments that transpire, particularly towards the end. An added bonus is the writing as Aimee Bender weaves terrific dialogue and inner monologues beautifully.
The master is back with his latest novel, a time travelling love story that deals with Jake Epping attempting to stop the assassination of JFK. This novel sits in this list based purely on the suspense it built, the setting that King so lovingly created and the pure “readability” of the book (despite its length).
What won me over was the environment that Jake lived within. As a huge fan of 50’s and 60’s Americana I was entirely in my element here. The world is so believable that the characters and dialogue step up to match it. A fantastic novel from one of the greatest living writers. It’s a must read for fans of suspense, time travel, conspiracy theories… just fiction in general. You can’t go wrong, here.
I’m going to cheat a little with this entry and copy a paragraph from my original review.
“My Dear I Wanted to Tell You captures the tragedy of war perfectly and the personal relationships between the reader and story creates a captivating story that will likely stay with you for months to come, if not forever. Even people that would usually avoid war based fiction will find the romance and the cast hypnotising. After this novel, Louisa Young deserves all the accolades that she will, no doubt, receive. A truly beautiful, haunting and unforgettable novel.”
This is one of those novels that I have thought about on and off for the entire year. I’ve told people about it, recommended it where I can, I’ve voted on it in public based book awards. I was utterly captivated by this novel and it is one I will revisit next year. Just read it.
Now here is a gem of a novel, one that has stayed within my consciousness since I turned the final page earlier this year. A Monster Calls is an emotional novel that transcends its target audience and touches the hearts of anyone who opens its pages. The idea was originally penned by Siobhan Dowd before her untimely death from Cancer. Ness has taken the idea, fleshed it out into a wonderful novel and created something incredibly special.
The novel follows Conor, who is watching as his mother is dying from Cancer. As he struggles to come to terms with what is happening in his life he is visited by a monster that is formed by a tree outside his bedroom window. The tree tells him stories, all of which have a moral that aids Conor in his young life. The beauty of the novel comes from the fact that the story itself is applicable to everybody. We all know somebody who has passed away. We’ve all dealt with grief and bereavement in some way and A Monster Calls is the book that tells you that you aren’t alone.
As someone who has watched a very close member of my family slip away, albeit not from cancer, I can relate to each feeling felt by Conor. Ness has nailed each emotion, both light and dark, with utter perfection. His writing is accompanied by artwork by Jim Kay that elevates the book by complimenting the complex emotions on show. If you only read one book published this year, it has to be A Monster Calls.