It’s time for another update on some of the books I’ve read recently! Three of these are full sized novels, two are novellas, and one is a graphic novel. Of these books, three are from authors that I have previously loved in the past – namely, Alice Oseman and Victoria Schwab. They’re not new books in the sense that they’re brand new to the world, but they’re new to me!
Anyway, let’s talk about these books!
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Content warnings: mention of rape, animal death
A couple centuries into the future, the wizard Merlin wakes up with a mission: find the latest reincarnation of King Arthur and rid the world of evil. And this time, Arthur is a girl called Ari who’s on the run from an evil space corporation.
So…I’ll start with the things I did like (which isn’t a lot). The concept is just so cool and I feel like that’s my major disappointment; an incredible idea that does not go at all how I wanted. I also liked Merlin’s character most of the time; his exasperation with everything and his feeling of being basically a fish out of water was amusing.
Other than that, though, this book just didn’t do it for me. The pacing felt WAY off, character relationships changed abruptly whenever it was convenient for the plot, most of the secondary characters felt one-dimensional, and I just never felt invested at all. I felt like I was being dragged around through this story and the only thing keeping me going was the hope that it might get better. But it didn’t. So, 2 stars.
This Winter & Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman (Solitaire novellas)
Content warnings: eating disorder, mention of past suicide attempt
Considering how much I’ve been obsessed with everything created by Alice Oseman in the past year, it’s amazing it’s taken me this long to read these two novellas. I got these as a birthday gift this month, though, and read them immediately! This Winter is set before Solitaire and after the current place we’re at in Heartstopper (I’m still figuring out the timelines on all the Solitaire/Heartstopper stories), and Nick and Charlie is set a few years later, soon before Nick leaves for university.
I don’t have a ton to say about these besides the fact that they’re both lovely stories! This Winter focuses more on the Spring family and Charlie’s eating disorder, making a little sadder. Nick and Charlie deals with both of them struggling to figure out where their relationship is going when Nick leaves, though of course it is utterly precious. Basically, I love these characters, and I will never get tired of reading about them.
Heartstopper: Volume 2 by Alice Oseman
Content warnings: homophobia
It’s been a very Alice Oseman-ish reading month! Volume 2 of Heartstopper came out in physical format this month, and despite having already read it as a webcomic, I loved reading it again in print. This volume focuses more than ever on Nick, particularly on his journey of coming out and accepting parts of himself that he was ashamed of. As usual, I just adore reading about these boys. Alice Oseman’s characters have a way of worming their way into my heart and filling it with such happiness and love. I can’t help but smile every time I read it…and I’ve read it quite a few times. Plus, this volume includes a bonus short story about Tara and Darcy, which was lovely!
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
“After all, a person is herself, and others. Relationships chisel the final shape of one’s being. I am me, and you.”
Content warnings: child death, abuse, gore
In this book, world-ending events are no uncommon, though humans have learned to survive the apocalyptic “fifth seasons” that follow. At the beginning of one of these seasons, a woman comes home to find that her husband murdered their child.
Following several different perspectives, this book tells a story of oppression, vengeance, and survival. Even though it took me a while to really feel invested and like I understood what was happening, once I got into it, I was truly sucked in. N.K. Jemisin has created a truly unique and intricate world with a magic system unlike anything I’ve seen before, as well as characters that managed to twist my heart around in unexpected ways. It’s difficult to describe this book because I feel like it’s something you really just have to experience for yourself – learning about it as you go is part of the journey. And even though it was a little bit frustrating for me at times, I ended up extremely invested, and I’m DYING to read the second book. My library hold can’t come fast enough!
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”
Content warnings: physical and emotional abuse, violence, torture
In a future where human violence manifests as real monsters that can hurt and kill, Kate Harker and August Flynn are heirs on opposite sides of a divided city. Kate hopes to inherit her father’s legacy of brutal, suppressive rule, while all August wants is to be human. When their paths not-so-accidentally cross, they have to decide what roles they want to play in an escalating conflict.
Well, Victoria Schwab really knows how to write morally gray characters, huh? These two characters, Kate and August, were the best parts of this book in my opinion. I absolutely adore this kind of character dynamic, with two people whose worldviews and ambitions are so starkly opposite, yet they somehow manage to learn more about themselves and the world by empathizing with the other. Kate and August might seem like they have absolutely nothing in common starting out, but we – and they – realize that they share much more than expected. I love it.
The worldbuilding in this feels a tad flimsy, but that’s honestly my biggest complaint about this book, and I’m mostly willing to overlook it. Victoria Schwab’s writing, as usual, is so strong, from the banter between characters to intense emotional and action scenes. This isn’t my favorite of her books, but nevertheless I’m hooked and can’t wait to read the sequel!
What books have you read recently? Have you read any of these?