Like the fact that you know there are two certainties in life: you will never know requited love, and your parents will never be proud of you.
There, that's better, you've missed that hole in your chest.
Chalk up another New York Times bestseller for the Toby Daye series!
In Ashes of Honor, by Seanan McGuire, Toby Daye once again finds herself looking for a missing child, but this time her client is Etienne, which means lots of teleportation action! The stakes are higher than ever before, especially when Toby finds herself embroiled in trouble at the Court of Cats, which means lots of Tybalt action! The series has found a sort of formula by this point: Toby gets a case, Toby asks for help from the Luidaeg and Shadowed Hills and whoever else, Toby gets beat up a lot, Toby saves the day. It is a winning formula, however, because it plays to the the strengths of the series: the great supporting cast and the fact that Toby is not some superperfect, invincible protagonist. Although she does get a lot of help, she's a good detective here, putting both her deductive skills and fae abilities to good use. There are plenty of surprises, good character development, and exciting action scenes, but I felt the resolution and motivations of the villain could have been explored a bit more. Late Eclipses is still the high-water mark of the series for me, and I'm waiting for something to match it in intensity and impact.
The fans of John Green are legion (they even have a special name: Nerdfighters), and this year, it seemed like everyone and their dog was sobbing over The Fault in Our Stars. TFiOS, as the cool kids call it, is the funniest book about kids dying of cancer you'll ever read!
Our narrator is Hazel Grace Lancaster, sixteen years old and staving off death with the help of a miracle drug and living with the assistance of a nasal cannula. I fell in love with Hazel almost instantly: she's wonderfully sarcastic and frank about her condition, cracking jokes about the "Republic of Cancervania" and such. The black humor in this book was right up my alley. One day at support group, her friend Isaac, who has a rare eye cancer, brings Augustus Waters, who has osteosarcoma and had his leg amputated and is really, really hot. And so begins an incredibly sweet love story between two teenagers who know they will never grow old together because growing old is not what terminal cancer patients do.
The characters are all incredibly endearing thanks to their quick wit, sarcasm, and intelligence (Hazel uses the word "apace" twice in the first several chapters). They felt like kids I wanted to hang out with. They explore Indianapolis (who sets a book in Indianapolis?), play video games, quote poetry, and talk about their favorite books, be it a bestseller about a girl with cancer by a reclusive author or a Call of Duty-esque video game tie-in novel.
As cute as the romance is, as funny as all the interactions are, the specter of death hangs over the novel. These kids are going to die. They will not deserve it, no, but no one really deserves to die: they just do. What The Fault in Our Stars does brilliantly is handle this specter without sentimentality and sappiness, instead allowing its characters to engage with their mortality in an honest, heartbreaking way. It is nigh impossible not to want to cry during this book, but you never feel emotionally manipulated. All the emotions are earned.
In a Q&A at the end of the audiobook, John Green praises the audiobooks of his works, saying that some of them are even better than the books. I must say that Kate Rudd's reading is splendid, as she nails Hazel's character and instills all the dialogue with such emotion that I could feel it too. She also made me laugh out loud a few times.
The Fault in Our Stars is quite a book, and I will definitely be checking out more John Green in the future.