February proved a diverse month in books for me. I read five, and they were all excellent. I can honestly say that I loved aspects of each. In fact, I’d recommend you check them all out. Yep… they’re that good. 🙂
1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis – I spoke about this book HERE, but I’ll repeat the sentiment: Wow. I’m so impressed with the world building and the constant sense of claustrophobia I felt while reading. Loved Amy and Elder too. One gripe–there’s a twist in this book that shouldn’t really be a twist, assuming the rules of first-person are followed.
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy – I’ve been trying to branch out and broaden my reading horizons lately. My husband suggested The Road. It’s dark, thought-provoking, and written quite untraditionally (like, with very little punctuation and lots of fragments). The mood it evoked was most impressive, and I recommend it if you like post-apocalyptic stories.
3. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson – A fast read, and a study in creating tension where there might not otherwise be. Billy is a teen dad struggling to raise his daughter, but her mother (his girlfriend) is missing from their lives. You don’t find out what’s happened to her until the end, and the payoff is so worth it.
4. Sold by Patricia McCormick – About a Nepalese girl who’s sold into India’s sex-slave industry by her shady stepfather. It’s written in a sparse free-verse style, and while I don’t normal read books in this format, Sold spoke to me. Lakshmi’s story was disturbing, yet the relationships she formed with the other girls in the brothel were inspirational. My only complaint: I wanted more at the end.
Some great titles, right? It was a difficult choice, but my very favorite, the one I could hardly put down, the one that’s now on my list of Best YA Contemporaries, was The Unwritten Rule.
From Elizabeth Scott’s website: Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don’t like your best friend’s boyfriend. Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he’s paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna’s boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah’s best friend. Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she’s thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It’s wonderful…and awful. Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can’t stop herself from wanting more…
The only other book I’ve read by Elizabeth Scott is Living Dead Girl. The two are equally engaging and both are extremely well-written, but when I finished Living Dead Girl, I almost wished I hadn’t read it. I didn’t want those images in my head. It was so, so dark.
That said, I ADORED The Unwritten Rule. While the concept is simple, the characters are interesting and layered. Sarah and Ryan aren’t perfect; they’re just trying to be the best they can be while still following their hearts. And they’re so good together! They made me think aww! repeatedly, and kept me turning pages, rooting for them, even when I could barely keep my eyes open. I felt Sarah’s longing for Ryan, and commiserated with her guilt regarding her betrayal of Brianna.
Speaking of Brianna… she’s one of the most interesting “villains” I’ve read. Sure, she’s self-centered and flaky and kind of a bitch to Sarah (“Remind me that I have some conditioner that’s supposed to be great for limp hair, OK? I totally bought it for you and remembered it just now.” Ew.), but I felt for her. Her past is complicated, and her motivations are clear. Even though I didn’t want her with Ryan (because Sarah and Ryan clearly belong together!), I wanted Brianna to have a happily ever after of her own.
The Unwritten Rule has some super steamy moments. Ryan and Sarah have amazing chemistry and Elizabeth Scott pens some of the best kisses I’ve read. She’s also a master of nuanced writing. One of my pet peeves (and something I struggle with myself) is when an author overstates and over explains character emotions. I like to draw conclusions of my own, and Ms. Scott let me do that. I can’t wait to hunt down and read the rest of her work!
So, what’s the best book you read in February?