5 Best Books of 2015

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2015

  1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  3. Paper Towns by John Green
  4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Red Queen generated a lot of buzz this year, so naturally, I had to check it out. It’s a debut novel and I was curious to see why it was insanely popular in YA circles. I’m still reading it, but it’s really good so far. It tells the story of an underclass girl, a “Red”, navigating the oppressive upper class of her society, the “Silvers”. There’s a love triangle between her and two brothers, the princes, but trust me, it’s not your typical love triangle: it’s much more interesting. Mare, the protagonist, is tough and likeable, and I really enjoy reading from her point of view. If you’re wondering whether Red Queen is really as good as everybody seems to say it is, rest assured that yes, it is.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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I’ll admit I slept on this wonderful series for too long. I finally got around to reading the first book, Throne of Glass, and I’m ecstatic I did. It’s similar to the Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, with a kick ass heroine I adore.  Celaena, the protagonist, is clever, feisty, and tough as nails. She’s in a love triangle between a prince and the captain of the guard, and I can see her with both of them. That’s good story telling. The plot is immensely fascinating, and follows Celaena as she competes to be the King’s “Champion”.  Filled with suspense and mystery, this book is a must read! It’s a page turner for sure.

Paper Towns by John Green

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I read Paper Towns because the movie was coming out, and I firmly believe in reading the book before the movie. The story captured me with the idea of loving an idea more than loving an actual person. I was struck by how quotable this book was. One of my favorite quotes is: ‘What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.’ The social commentary is profound and pensive. John Green’s writing ensconced me.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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What I loved about this book is that the narrator was very relatable. I could really relate to Lara Jean’s sheltered life and her strong crushes. I rooted for her to finally find true love. I really enjoyed the sisterhood between her and her two sisters, Margot and Kitty. I also really liked how Jenny Han infused her Korean culture into the story, as Lara Jean and her sisters were half-Korean, half-white. I can’t wait till I finally get around to reading the sequel, (PS, I Still Love You)!

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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I’m Nigerian-American, and prefer to be socially aware on issues affecting African-Americans in America. Between the World and Me was so lauded this year, I had to grab a copy. I devoured it. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writing is so rich, enthralling, and beautiful. His bold take on race in America was a delight to read. I admire his dauntlessness.

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

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Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Published: October 2008

Read: June – July 2015

Where to find it: Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew..

My Thoughts

Oh, the disenchantment of adolescence.

Paper Towns is a quintessential coming-of-age story that deals with romance, identity, and, above all, teenage angst. Our hero, Quentin Jacobs aka Q, is graduating from high school as a straight-laced student who loves routine and doesn’t find monotony boring, only to have the end of his senior year disrupted by his manic pixie dream girl, his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman, and her elaborate hijinks.

I must confess: I didn’t really think much of Margo. Her character didn’t particularly interest me and I didn’t care for her when I was seeing her through Q’s adoring eyes. Was she worthy of Q’s adulation? Maybe. Did I care for her? No.

I did enjoy the sharp contrast between their characters during the first part of the book, when Margo had her night of vengeance to those who had wronged her. Q’s anxiety, worry, and need to “play by the rules” complemented Margo’s caprice, impetuousness, and desire to “throw caution to the wind”. Their character dynamic explored the nature between the head and the heart.

Something I found really compelling in the book was the difference between loving the idea of someone and actually getting to know said person. It really explored the way we tend to elevate certain people to god-like status and idealize them without really knowing them at all. It’s dangerous to put someone up on a pedestal because they can never actually live up to those expectations. Margo’s friends and classmates imprinted their ideas of the perfect, mysterious, popular girl onto Margo, and she struggled under the weight of that. Q, in particular, fell for the image he had of her as this fearless dream girl. The twist ending humanized her.

Q’s monologue at the end about really seeing a person who was once an idea was so profound to me. We see each other through out cracks in which we let the other person in and show them our vulnerabilities. He’d spent the whole book trying to picture the real Margo, but ultimately failed until he discovered the true reason she ran away. And then. the entire book made sense. She wasn’t just escaping a “paper town”, but she was escaping being a “paper girl”.

I like how John Green embeds literature into his books, like Imperial Affliction in TFIOS and now Leaves of Grass in Paper Towns. I find it interesting how the literature makes the reader connect more with the characters, like it’s a window into their souls or something.

Anyway, Paper Towns was great at the beginning, dragged on a bit in the middle, and had an excellent ending. I enjoyed having the mystery finally solved in a way that I least expected it. If you’re looking for a fun summer read that isn’t riddled with cliches, look no further than Paper Towns.

Favorite Quotes

“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

“What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person.”

“”Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”

“All that wild charisma and wanderlust.” (on Margo Roth Spiegelman)

“All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.”

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”

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Rating: 4/5

Teaser Tuesday: Paper Towns by John Green

With the movie coming up, I figured that I would finally read Paper Towns by John Green.

It’s a coming of age book that serves to contrast the personalities of the anxious thinkers, like the protagonist Quentin Jacobsen, and the capricious doers, like his object of affection Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I’m about two-thirds through, and I’m really enjoying the mystery surrounding Margo’s disappearance and the various reactions from the different characters towards the enigma that is her character. I also noticed how John Green uses literature in the form of poetry by Walt Whitman as the backbone of his novel, similarly to the use of a made-up novel in The Fault in Our Stars.

Here’s a teaser, extracting an excerpt from a mini-speech by Margo that includes the title of the book itself:

“It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.”

What she’s talking about? Well, you’ll have to read Paper Towns to find out.

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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Title: The Fault In Our Stars

Author: John Green

Genre: Young Adult Literature, Romance, Tragedy

Published: January 10th, 2012

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Synopsis:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Thoughts:

My friends basically pushed me to read this book, because of ‘the feels’. So, I decided to read it before the movie comes out in June.

Hazel, I think, is the most admirable character I have ever read in YA book. She doesn’t have paranormal abilities, she’s not a badass kickass fantasy heroine, and she’s been dying of cancer all her life. Yet, she is the most real girl I have ever read. I loved her witty comments and statements riddled throughout the book from the beginning. I love how she doesn’t try to hide from the truth, how she accepted the truth. I love honest she is about her cancer and her condition and her impending death. She is also so empathetic with other people and their plights. She thinks of the people in her life. I really liked how she was so obsessed with An Imperial Affliction and its ending. She is such a fangirl, lol.

Augustus Waters was such a hero. I just want him to know that, no matter what he thought, he is the most heroic character I’ve ever read. He made sacrifices for the people he loved. Not big sacrifices. Just the little things, the ones that matter, the ones that count. Him and his metaphorical resonances! Gosh, I loved those. He was so awesome. And those big words he always used! He always sounded so intelligent. He and Hazel were such an intellectual couple. They were both so smart, and clever. I really admire that about them.

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There were actually a lot of metaphorical resonances and symbolism in this book. It’s so erudite.

I don’t want to get into any of the other characters, or stuff I specifically adored from TFIOS, because I don’t want to give any spoilers. One thing remains, though: Hazel’s mom is the best fictional mom in the whole wide world. And Peter Van Houten was the best plot twist ever.

I just want to say that this book was not at all what I expected. It was 10000000x better. I’ve never read a book that are me think so much in my life. It’s incredibly quotable and ponderable and awe-inspiring. And another thing: this book literally made me cry buckets. Remember, if you haven’t read it and you finally do, to keep a box of tissues ready.

Favorite Quotes:

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“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

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“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”

9.5/10

5-stars

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