Road Trip Wednesday: Five Books I’m Surprised I Liked in 2011

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This week YA Highway asks what were our favorite books of 2011. I don’t keep very good records of what I’ve read and when. I need to start doing that. I couldn’t tell you what books I read in 2011 and which were my favorites. Instead, to make it easier on me, I thought I’d list five books I was surprised I liked in 2011.

1. Game of Thrones by George Martin

Why am I surprised I liked this? I haven’t read adult fiction for years. Mostly I read YA and MG because that’s what I write. But the TV series of this came out and I really loved it, so I bought the first book on a whim. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t put it down. It’s sooooo long!  I often read YA books in one sitting, so this was a real shock to the system. It took forever to finish, but I loved it. I’m now reading book five on my Kobo.  George Martin, you’ve eaten up a lot of my reading time in 2011! Sigh….Jon Snow….

2. Shiver by Maggie Maggie Stiefvater

I resisted the whole werewolf love thing after being so grossed out by the whole vampire love thing. But then one of my fellow NaNo writers suggested that this is actually not too bad. She was right!  Where Twilight is slightly nauseating, Shiver is actually very sweet and romantic, and quite sexy in a YA kind of way. I’ve since read book two, Linger, and enjoyed that very much too. Now book three, Forever is on my Kobo, waiting for me to finish A Dance with Dragons (see above)

3. Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

I’ve sung the praises of verse novels before, and anyone who does so has to give props to Ellen Hopkins. Nevertheless, this is the first time I haven’t been slightly disappointed by her books (I’ve read most of them). I think maybe these characters are more likeable and the situations more realistic than some of her other stuff. I really hated Kristina in Crank and Glass, so I was relieved she wasn’t in this one much. I also found this book to be surprisingly romantic. Where the relationships in some of her other books are just destructive and mean, there was some genuine, if immature love (and plenty of lust too) in this book.

4. The God Box by Alex Sanchez

While I’m no huge fan of GYA (Gay Young Adult) I certainly agree there is a strong market and a need for it. I’m less enthusiastic about the existence of Christian YA, but I also realize that many kids want to read it. So why I chose to read a Christian GYA is something of a mystery. Even more mysterious is why I liked it. I guess I was just surprised at how well written and believable this book was. I completely bought into the struggle the main character was having with his sexuality and his faith. Moreover, I cared.

5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I can’t really say why I wasn’t expecting to like this book. I guess maybe I thought it would be a bit derivative. I’d already read The Hunger Games and Incarceron so I thought this would be more of the same only not as good.  But I really enjoyed this book.  It had several really unique aspects to it. I loved the invented words and the mystery of the whole thing. In many ways this is a much more inventive book than either The Hunger Games or Incarceron and certainly more inventive than some recent copy cats (Variant for example). Sadly, I bought the sequel to The Maze Runner and I can’t say that it really grabbed me. I still haven’t finished it.

It just goes to show that books are made to be tried. You never know when something is going to grab you, speak to you, or move you. I’m frequently taken by surprise by books I know nothing about, but more rarely I like books I predict I won’t care for. This is always a nice treat. Here’s to another great year of reading (and writing) in 2012!

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