Slightly belated, but here are my Top 10 books that I read in 2017! (Note - these are books I read in 2017, not books that were released in 2017). I also haven't included any books that I re-read last year because otherwise I'd be talking about the same books over and over again. The below aren't in order, they are just 10 books that I loved last year.I actually found it hard to choose my top ten this year because I didn't actually read that many 5 star reads, or the ones that I did read didn't stand out to me as much as previous years' books have. Overall, I did read some pretty fantastic books, but hopefully next year is a better reading year for me!
1. Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
I received an arc of this book in an Illumicrate box last year and didn't really know anything about it, so I didn't really have any big expectations when I first went into this. However, it completely blew me away. This is a sci-fi YA novel about a group of teens who are chosen to go to another planet.
The book follows Emmett who discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and have to compete to earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden, where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. The substance is something that can be manipulated by a person's mind to effectively create anything.
I absolutely loved the competition on the space station and seeing the scoreboard every few chapters constantly kept me hooked on the main character's progress. There were also so many twists that I didn't see coming and kept me turning the page. The characters were all so diverse and incredibly realistic; even now I pretty much remember every character in the competition because they were so well written. I would recommend this to anyone who already loves sci-fi, and even to people new to sci-fi. I think it's a wonderful addition to the genre and I am so, so excited to pick up the next book later this year.
2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Last year, I read my first Leigh Bardugo book last year and ended up binge reading pretty much all of her books straight afterwards. I read the Grisha trilogy first, which I enjoyed but found them to be somewhat similar to other YA fantasy (although the world building was beautifully unique). However, I'd heard nothing but positive things about the Six of Crows duology which follows the Grisha trilogy, and I wasn't disappointed.
This duology follows a group of criminals and outcasts who end up banding together to complete a heist for a large reward. Each character in this book is unbelievably unique and it deals with such hard hitting issues even in a fantasy setting. I loved the female characters in this book; they are so powerful and strong (emotionally as well as physically) and so inspirational. The world building is again fantastic. Both the books are fantastic, so although I'm only mentioned The Six of Crows, the sequel is also equally amazing. This duology brought me out of a reading slump last February/March and I couldn't be happier I picked them up.
3. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
I believe this was a debut novel by Jennifer Mathieu. I first heard about from some badges I received in the Illumicrate box, and when I googled more about it I knew I'd have to pick it up. This book follows a girl called Vivian who is fed up with sexist dress codes, sexist boys in her school, and hallway harassment. She decides to create a zine to encourage girls to stand up for what they believe in and to change the way the sexism is allowed to run rampant in her school.
This book. I wish I'd had this to read when I was in school. It's so unbelievably inspiring and I felt like everything that happened to these girls, I could say 'Yep, I saw that happen to someone', or 'that's happened to me'. This entire book portrays how it feels to a young woman growing up and how being a feminist should be. I really love that the love interest in this book didn't get feminism or the sexist things, but was completely willing to learn. Equally, I loved that some female characters also had to learn that things could be different. I think my favourite thing in this book though were the strong female friendships. They were so real and it's something that's often not portrayed well in books, but this one was brilliant. This is a perfect book for anyone who loves contemporaries, and for anyone who wants to understand more about feminism/how it feels to sometimes be targeted as a woman.
4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Again, this is another debut contemporary, but this time by Angie Thomas. I had heard a ridiculous amount of amazing things about this book and when I saw it for £2 from The Works (a discount book shop in the UK), I just had to pick it up. This book follows 16-year-old Starr Carter who is from a poor, black neighbourhood and who goes to a rich, mostly white school. She lives in both worlds but everything collides when she witnesses one of her friend being shot my a policeman. She is the only witness and, soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some police and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. She has to decide whether to remain quiet or to stand up and speak, even if it means risking her own life.
This book is so (sadly) relevant to the USA and the world, and it touches on some of the most difficult topics to discuss. Angie Thomas does a fantastic job of portraying these difficult issues, while also showing what it means to be part of a family. Starr's family are wonderfully realistic and I loved all of them (especially her dad). This book was just beautifully written and unbelievably powerful. I feel like it's something that everyone should read to become more aware of the world around them.
5. IT by Stephen King
As I've said before on this blog, I absolutely love Stephen King books. I try to read at least one a year as I have a pretty large collection of them. I really love the old It film (1990), but I've not seen the newest one. Last year I decided to pick this up because so many people were talking about the film again. This book is a horror following seven people in two periods of their life (in childhood and in adulthood), when their town is going through a time where something evil is killing children. I really loved it despite some of the problematic elements that were in it.
Stephen King's writing is always so easy to read which made even this huge book easily readable in a few days. His characters are always fascinating and I always adore the way he portrays small towns in America, and the difference between children and adults. It is a terrifying antagonist, although I found the book itself to not be that scary. I think the pacing is quite slow which stopped anything truly terrifying from happening. He does write some great action scenes though.
It's also made me really want to re-read 11.22.63 (my favourite Stephen King book of all time), because there's a section set in Derry with the same characters in it. I do love that he intertwines so many of his books together in that way. Overall, this was yet another great Stephen King book and I'm looking forward to reading even more books of his this year.
6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a very interesting writer and I was so excited to pick up American Gods last year. I still haven't watched the TV show and I'm not sure I plan to because I really enjoyed the book. This is a rather strange book, but it follows a man who is released from prison and finds his life has completely changed (for reasons I don't want to spoil!). On the plane back, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, meeting many other Gods along the way.
As with any Neil Gaiman book, many parts of this were extremely strange. However, his writing is entrancing and I loved both the American Gods and the Old Gods in this book. I am baffled that I didn't see the huge twist at the end, but I'm so glad I didn't because it made the book so much better for it. Some parts of the book were much slower, but overall I really enjoyed this book. Gaiman has a talent for writing flawed and interesting characters.
7. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
I was recommended this book by one of my close friends, and had wanted to read it for a while. She very kindly lent me the book and I ended up reading it in little over a day because it was so, so interesting. This is the true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young woman who was shot by the taliban for trying to promote education for women and girls.
This book was so, unbelievably moving. It not only details how her life changed because of the conflict in the Middle East, but also her community's way of life. She also details so much history of the area going back hundreds of years that I had absolutely no idea about, and it was fascinating. I feel like this should be compulsory reading in a way to show how different life is for other people (something which isn't always appreciated), and also so people can understand more about the conflict than the little we get from the news. She is an inspiring woman and the book really shows her courage and humble nature.
8. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
Again, this is another non-fiction book, but this book follows the life of Yeonmi Park as she grew up and later escaped North Korea. I was very interested in reading this as I know very little about North Korea and am very interested in learning more about the country.
Park details so much history of the country and how communities live/lived in North Korea, which was fascinating. I really loved hearing about how she grew up because it was so different to how I imagined. I had absolutely no idea. Her story of how she escaped the country and what happened to her family is just incredibly moving and heartbreaking. I definitely teared up a few times when I read this book because it's so hard to believe these atrocities are actually happening in the world. Her strength, not only to go through what she did, but also to write this book is amazing an I admire her for that. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about North Korea, or anyone who enjoys autobiographies.
9. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
I've had this book for a while and hadn't got around to picking it up until last year. This was the fifth or sixth Brandon Sandserson book that I've read. I absolutely loved the Mistborn trilogy and also the Steelheart books, but I was nervous about picking this one up because I knew it was his first book and I'd heard it wasn't very good. I think because my expectations were quite low, I ended up really, really enjoying this! Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not his best book but it's also up there with the top few for me!
This epic fantasy follows three characters in a city where magic has disappeared and left behind people who can become infected with a deadly disease. It is mostly a character-driven book rather than plot-driven, and it worked so well. The characters were all so interesting and the women were portrayed as very strong. Overall, it was just a great stand-a-lone fantasy book, which is rare to see!
10. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
This was one of the first books I read last year and I ended up reading it in one day because I was so hooked. I feel like this is a very underrated book as I've never seen anyone else talking about it in books blogs/booktube. This is a YA thriller/mystery that follows the disappearance of six children, five of whom then reappear 11 years later with no memories. It is about them trying to fit back into their lives and how the families react. It also follows the young adults as they try to figure out where they were for 11 years of their lives and why they were suddenly brought back. And also, what happened to the last child?
Like I said, this book had me hooked from the very first page. It was fast-paced, the characters were interesting, and the reality of them returning was so thought-provoking. Although the twist at the end didn't quite live up to my expectations as much as I hoped (I do struggle to find thrillers that do this because my expectations end up being so high!), I still absolutely loved it and would definitely read it again. It's so rare to find a YA thriller, but this one very much reminded me of The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke which was one of my favourite books of 2017 (also very underrated!!).
So those are my (slightly belated), top 10 books that I read in 2017! Let me know if you've read any of these and what your favourites were of 2017!