I’ve encountered some great reads this year (and some not-so-great reads, too). I will forgo discussing the books I didn’t enjoy all that much to preserve good web karma, and focus on why the following five titles were among my favorite. Please forgive me if I dip into the middle grade realm a bit!
1) The Magic Thief. Sarah Prineas’ debut novel introduced Conn, a young wizard-in-training who was so likable and real that I had a hard time putting the book down. His voice was quick and funny, and Prineas’ prose was equally addictive.
2) The Lightning Thief. I know the first of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is actually a 2006 release, but I discovered it in 2008, so it counts. Sort of. Percy is the demigod son of Poseidon, and in the first book of the series he discovers the truth about himself, and the dangers and benefits of being an Olympian. Percy is a young hero everyone can relate to, and the story was fast-paced, fun, and in a few parts, frightening.
3) Hunger Games. By far, this is my #1 pick for 2008. I read it as an ARC, and LOVED it so much I couldn’t stop telling people about it. Katniss is drafted to compete in the annual Hunger Games, where two-dozen teenagers in a futuristic America must fight each other to the death—all on live television. Survival of the fittest is taken to the next level here, and Suzanne Collins does a magnificent job of ratcheting up the tension in all the right spots.
4) The Devouring: Sorry Night. Right on par with Stephen King, in my opinion. Simon Holt’s freaky tale about the scariest night of the year, when demons invade the souls of those who are the most vulnerable and afraid, is a paranormal feast. Well-written and tightly plotted, I was impressed with every aspect of this novel. Don’t read this alone late at night!
5) Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. In a market saturated with vampires and werewolves and magic, Violet Raines was a refreshing reprieve. When a new girl comes to town and tries to steal away Violet’s best friend, Violet isn’t about to sit down and pout about it. She’s got spunk and wit, and a deep love for the way things are done in her small Florida town. Danette Haworth’s debut novel took me right back to my early teenage-hood—and really made me crave a slushy from the local corner store!