Most & Least Favourite Reads | 2016

M O S T  F A V O U R I T E

1. Vicious – V.E Schwab
After I read Vicious, it became very easy for me to say that Victoria/V.E Schwab is one of my all-time favourite authors, and also my favourite ‘new-to-me’ author in 2016. Vicious completely captured my attention and enthralled me, keeping me on the edge of my seat and on the edge of my bed. Whenever I wasn’t reading Vicious, I wanted to be reading it.

Vicious is a dual narrative novel that follows two storylines- one in the past and the other in the present- about our two main characters, Eli Ever and Victor Vale. In one storyline we follow Eli and Victor, best friends and roommates at University where together they’re attempting to complete their theses. In the other storyline we follow present day Eli and Victor, now sworn enemies that want the other dead. Vicious is so clever in the way that it establishes each storyline separately, yet manages to intertwine them at the most pivotal moments in the story. V.E Schwab discusses heroism and villainy equally from both perspectives, but is also careful to draw just as equal attention to the morally grey area in between. As I’ve said, she has definitely become an auto-buy author to me, and Vicious has secured a place on my all-time favourite list of books. I’ll be thinking about this story- and its potential for a sequel- for a long time.

2. A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J Maas
Oh. My. God.  It was such a close call between A Court of Mist and Fury and Vicious for my number one favourite book of 2016, but ultimately ACOMAF has come in a very, very, very, very, very close second place. In my opinion, ACOMAF easily overshadows the first book in the series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, so much so that it almost doesn’t feel like its sequel. Every single character that we know evolved (some even literally) and came into their own strong and unique personality, especially our leading lady Feyre. We were also introduced to an entirely new cast of characters, including Rhysand’s Inner Circle and the rest of the esteemed Night Court. We travelled a lot and met members of various other courts in the Fae realm, many of whom I’m hoping to meet again- and learn more about- in the future. Within moments of meeting these new characters I wanted to become their closest friend and ally, and within moments involving old characters, I was left either wanting to see them more or never again. I felt both of these within a matter of pages and chapters.

While I have noticed the heavy criticism that ACOMAF and the ACOTAR series has received for its lack of diversity- which I mostly agree with- that doesn’t necessarily subtract from my overall level of enjoyment while reading ACOMAF. I was instantly drawn back into this world and to the characters I’d come to love, and I was happy just to be reading about them again. I had so much fun reading ACOMAF, despite the intense and stressful moments. Most of the time these scenes were also coupled with heartbreak, elation and devastation all at once, so I applaud Sarah J. Maas for that. 

I’ve never actually experienced the feeling of wanting to immediately re-read a book the moment I finish reading it for the first time. ACOMAF almost- almost– made me do that. This 600+ page rollercoaster has left me eagerly and desperately awaiting the next book in this series, and hoping that the next one won’t be the last.

3. Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare
I waited more than two years for another Cassandra Clare Shadowhunters novel and 2016 did not disappoint. Lady Midnight is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s newest trilogy The Dark Artifices and is set five years following the dramatic events of City of Heavenly Fire, the epic conclusion to the Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight follows two main protagonists- Emma Carstairs, a now 17 year old girl hellbent on avenging the mysterious murder of her parents five years ago, and Julian Blackthorn, also an orphan and Emma’s parabatai, who has a number of secrets of his own. 

Lady Midnight is set in a brand new city that we’ve never visited before in any of the other Shadowhunter novels- Los Angeles. We’re also introduced to a rather large cast of new characters, including Julian’s eccentric bunch of siblings- Helen, Mark, Livia, Tiberius, Drusilla and Octavian. We also meet Malcolm Fade, Cristina Rosales and Kieran of the Wild Hunt, who brought so many moments of stress to this book. Along with their own secrets, these characters also brought their own distinct personality and voice and I’m so much looking forward to seeing where the events of Lady Midnight take us in its sequel, Lord of Shadows, which is set to be released on 23 May, 2017.

4. Gemina – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
OH MY GOD. I think this book actually (as in physically) blew my mind.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Melbourne book launch for Gemina, and to read it more than a day before the rest of the world. While I was somewhat dubious about how well I’d be able to connect to an entirely new cast of characters- although I seriously shouldn’t have been- Amie and Jay completely sold this book to every member of the audience at their launch.

Gemina begins almost immediately following the conclusion of the first book in this series, Illuminae, although its both a sequel and companion novel at the same time. Where Illuminae follows the story of Katy and Ezra Gemina follows Hanna and Nic, the beloved and spoiled daughter of a Captain, and the ragtag member of a family of criminals. We also see a lot of Nic’s cousin Ella, who is extremely similar to Katy in a number of important ways, and who also brings humour and light to an otherwise dark and pretty unpredictable book. As with Illuminae, Gemina is also full of multimedia formatting. This book recounts the survival stories of Nic and Hanna through instant messages, security camera footage, journal entries, illustrations and other ambiguous formats that add so much dimension to the novel overall. What makes this series so fantastic is how unique the method of storytelling is, and I don’t think it would be anywhere near as fantastic without it.

I really grew to love Nic, Hanna and Ella more than Katy and Ezra from Illuminae, and I can only imagine that whoever’s story we follow in the third and final book in this trilogy is sure to live up to the expectations now firmly set for them.

5. Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
This was such a delightful surprise, and it’s definitely my favourite book written by this author. Attachments is a dual perspective novel. We follow Lincoln’s storyline in standard prose, but follow Beth and Jennifer through their constant back-and-forth emailing. 

Lincoln is an almost 30-year-old, mostly night-shift IT worker at a newspaper company who has basically no idea what he’s doing with his life and where it’s headed until one night at work he comes across a number of emails between two women who work in different divisions at the newspaper company. Lincoln, whose job it is to manage the emailing system and the company’s entire security network, decides not to formally caution Beth and Jennifer for their non-professional use of their email accounts. Instead, Lincoln decides to continue to read these women’s emails and even begins to develop an attraction toward one of the women. Attachments is your stock-standard sweet romance novel with a format that really pushes the story along. I read Attachments in less than a day and even now- months later- the story has stuck with me and left me wondering where these characters are now and how their lives have turned out.

6. The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Kiss is the final book in Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s trilogy, and partially because it was released around my birthday in 2016, I absolutely adored it. 

I usually don’t enjoy the final book in a trilogy all that much, especially when compared to the earlier books, but The Winner’s Kiss literally had me on the edge of my seat and desperate to know where Kestrel and Arin’s stories ended. This entire trilogy follows a storyline that is so politically motivated, and is one of the most intricate and delicate that I’ve seen in young adult literature. For that reason alone I find that this trilogy is so unique and distinct from other work in the genre, and believe that it deserves a lot more attention than it’s currently getting. Our two main characters Kestrel and Arin have one of the most unique relationships, and are so life-like. Where Arin begins as a slave and a member of a repressed population, Kestrel is the talented, beautiful and darling daughter of a General in the war. Both Kestrel and Arin, who are strong not just physically but emotionally, are also capable and intelligent characters with very distinct personalities. Their friendship and relationship are both so unique and not as straightforward as you’d hope, and especially in The Winner’s Kiss, left me biting my nails out of pure nervousness.

A number of familial relationships are also emphasised throughout this series, in particular Kestrel’s relationship with her father and Arin with his cousin. However, a lot of other important things are emphasised that other books in the genre tend to ignore or overlook, such as race and religion. The Winner’s Kiss shows the audience how important these things are to entire populations of people, and sheds such positive light on both of them. Even more, the beautifully poetic nature of Marie Rutkoski’s writing style adds that little bit more vibrancy and essence to this series.

7. Empire of Storms – Sarah J Maas
Every September the world eagerly anticipates the release of the next book in Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and Empire of Storms was no exception. The second to last book in the Throne of Glass series, Empire of Storms picks up right where we left off the year before. It was full off suspense, intense and highly emotional moments,  and devastation toward the end that we all should’ve seen coming. Although I didn’t feel nearly as emotionally attached to our main character Aelin as I did in Queen of Shadows, I found that I became so much more attached to other characters, mainly Manon, Elide and Lorcan. Of course, I was more than happy to see my darling Prince Dorian again, and I’m so excited (and extremely nervous) to see where the sixth and final book in this series takes us (and ultimately leaves us) in October 2017.

8. Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare
Damn Cassandra Clare, back at it again with another incredible Shadowhunters novel.

After I read The Bane Chronicles– the bind-up series of novellas centred around another character in the Shadowhunter universe- I was left a little underwhelmed by the prospect of more Shadowhunter novellas. I didn’t love The Bane Chronicles, and truthfully I only really enjoyed maybe three of the novellas in the entire bind-up. However, The Mortal Instruments series and the Shadowhunter universe in general mean a great deal to me as a person and as a reader, so I obviously (and kind of inevitably) decided to give these brand new novellas a chance.

I read these novellas on my e-reader as soon as I could, and read all of them within one weekend. I was actually on holiday with my entire family, and it’s fair to say that I gave Simon and co. a lot more attention than my family that weekend. I adored reading almost solely from Simon’s perspective, where in The Mortal Instruments series we only get a brief insight into his perspective. I loved seeing where Simon was post-City of Heavenly Fire, and so many other familiar faces that I’d missed so much. This book gave me so many warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings and I’m so glad that I gave it, and Simon, a chance.

9. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
If there’s ever a book that’s left me with serious heartbreak, it has nothing on Me Before You. I so vividly remember being in the middle of the CBD the moment that I finished reading Me Before You, and I’ve never drawn so much attention to myself before. I was a crying, sobbing and blubbering mess, although I knew going into this book that I would be. Me Before You follows the story of recently unemployed Louisa Clark who accepts a position- in a moment of desperation- as caretaker to a young quadriplegic man. Louisa, who is completely inexperienced for the position, soon learns that there is a lot more to Will, and to the rest of his family, than she might have originally thought. Me Before You covers difficult topics, has some of the most difficult conversations that any family could ever have, and ultimately shows very real and very raw emotion.

While there has been some controversy about how ‘ableist’ this book comes across, I felt myself becoming attached to almost every single character, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been so invested in the lives of contemporary characters.

10. Maybe Someday – Colleen Hoover
I have a fairly strong love-hate relationship with Colleen Hoover, so naturally I was skeptical about the level of hype surrounding Maybe Someday. However, I found that I was pleasantly surprised by how much of an impact it had one me, and I think I can say that Maybe Someday is leagues ahead of her other work.

Maybe Someday follows the story of newly-turned 22 year old Sydney, who on her birthday learns that her boyfriend of two years- Hunter- has been cheating on her with her now ex- best friend and ex- roommate Tori. With only a suitcase in hand and caught in the pouring rain, Sydney accepts an offer from her mysterious neighbour Ridge to stay at his apartment while she deals with all of the drama in her life. Maybe Someday has a strong focus on friendship and on music, which is something that I didn’t think I would appreciate. I’m not a musically talented or musically inclined person at all, and I understand next-to-nothing about anything music-related, but I can definitely see how Maybe Someday would appeal a lot more to those who are better-versed in the language of music and musical composition. However, I still think that it holds some value and a lot of appeal to those of us who aren’t.

L E A S T  F A V O U R I T E  

1. November Nine – Colleen Hoover
In contrast to Maybe Someday, which made it onto my Top 10 of 2016 list, November Nine did not. It wasn’t even close to be quite honest. At the time that I read November Nine I thought that I was enjoying the story and the characters, but toward the end of the book I realised that I wasn’t enjoying anything about it at all. Honestly, November Nine is an incredibly harmful book, and a lot of the triggering and distasteful moments throughout it weren’t even brought to my attention until Whitney from WhittyNovels (Twitter: @whittynovels) read the book also and called it out online. In essence, November Nine romanticises emotional and physical abuse. The main male protagonist Ben is a controlling and manipulative “love” interest, and to me it seemed as though Colleen Hoover wrote the main female protagonist Fallon as though the entire substance of her character depended on Ben’s sexual attraction to her. 

I’m so disappointed, both in myself for not recognising and pinpointing these problematic moments, but also in author that I’ve previously proclaimed to love.

2. The Kill Order – James Dashner
I read and thoroughly enjoyed James Dashner’s original Maze Runner trilogy, and so I was excited when I heard that The Kill Order would follow the story of a new character in the same dystopian world. However, I found this book so incredibly draining and honestly such a struggle to get through. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, especially the main character Mark, and found the half-assed romance aspect the most difficult part. 

Most of the time I forgot that The Kill Order was supposed to be a prequel to the original Maze Runner trilogy, as it added next to nothing to the world that Dashner had already established. Overall, I was just so disappointed with this book, and I’m not sure if it’s left me with enough to energy to put into reading the next (and final) novel in the Maze Runner world, The Fever Code (although I have heard much better things about it).

3. Oblivion – Jennifer L Armentrout
No. Just no. This was one of the first books that I finished in 2016, and I think it left a really bitter taste in my mouth for anything else that I read last year. After struggling through Oblivion, I came to the conclusion that I’m never again going to read a book in a series that I’ve already read, that’s been retold from the perspective of the other love interest. I just find the entire concept so ridiculous and unnecessary, and nothing but a ploy from well-established authors to both make more money, and keep readers interested in a series that’s already been concluded. 

At times there were some humorous and enjoyable moments in Oblivion, but honestly not enough to warrant the need for an entire book. It was basically just a re-read of Obsidian, which wasn’t what I signed up for.

4. Too Late – C. Hoover
I had absolutely no idea that Colleen Hoover even wrote under the name ‘C. Hoover’, or that she had almost an entire novel published on Wattpad available to read for free. Naturally I was excited when I found out about this, but at 5% of the way through this book I realised that it wasn’t what I originally thought it would be. The writing style wasn’t that different from her other work, and Too Late is definitely a lot more adult and mature than any of her other work, but I still don’t think that I enjoy C. Hoover all that much. This is the first adult novel that I’ve read from this author, but it’s not the first book that I’ve read with mature content in it. However, the mature content in this book was so excessive and unnecessary. I think C. Hoover had a sex scene once every 3-4 pages at least. Toward the end I also feel like the writing became a lot more sloppy and lazy, and everything that happened was extremely convenient.

Basically, this book was just way too smutty. The erotica genre is one that I never really envision myself getting into, and although there were a few characters that I didn’t mind/tolerated reading about, I feel like my distaste for smutty writing and overly vivid sex scenes really overshadowed my interest for anything else in this book. So this one was quite the let down.

5. A New Hope- The Princess, The Scoundrel and The Farm Boy – Alexandra Bracken
This was a bit of a let down considering how invested I am in the Star Wars universe. As with Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy, I also read this book while on holiday with my family in January 2016. While this book was a fast read- technically it is a children’s book- I don’t remember anything that happened in it. I obviously enjoyed all of the characters because I’ve seen Leia, Han and Luke in all of the movies, but this book really didn’t add all that much else to the Star Wars universe. At the time it was fun and enjoyable, but for someone like me who already knows so much about the Star Wars universe and most of its characters, this book didn’t exactly provide what I wanted. 

However, I would definitely recommend this book for people who are wanting to get into Star Wars and are intimidated by the various number of movies, TV shows, novels, graphic novels, comics etc., that take place in a galaxy far, far away.

_________________________________________________________________

So there we have it, my most and least favourite reads of 2016. I hope you all had a wonderful and safe New Years celebration, and are just as excited as I am about the 2017 reading year to come!

Let me know your most and least favourite reads of 2016 down below.

emilyp0tter
– x0

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