Happy New Year everyone! This has been a really great year of reading for me. I was scrolling through my Goodreads challenge, trying to narrow down my favourites list. Every book I came across, I remember so fondly. It’s safe to say that I’ve discovered a lot of new favourites this year. However, there was a few I was excited for, and let me down slightly. For a full list of what I have read this year, head to my 2018 books page, or add me as a friend on Goodreads!
So, without further ado, here is my best and worst of 2018: book edition! Buckle in, folks. It’s going to be a long one.
In no particular order…
The ones that sailed head first into my favourites:
1. Beartown by Fredrik Backman (review)
What an incredible book. I finished this book a month or so ago, and I’m still thinking about it. It’s set in a small town in America which is suffering from the dwindling economy. Their junior ice hockey team is the only thing keeping them on the map. The story is about the fate of this team on a surface level, but it dives so much deeper than that. Read this book for a multiple perspective narration that commentates on society and forces you as a reader to question your actions and assumptions. It’s astounding, honestly.
2. Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (review)
I read this YA earlier on in the year. Ever since reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard has become such a reliable and favourite author of mine. Her ability to create tangible and complex characters is second to none. This story focuses on two teenage girls who are best friends. To avoid spoilers, an incident occurs and the whole dynamic of the story shifts. It explores the manipulation of power and inappropriate dynamics between adults and children.
3. I was Born for This by Alice Oseman (review)
Similar to Sara Barnard, Alice Oseman’s writing is so unique and seamless. I had high hopes for this book, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The story is based around Angel, a British teen who lives for the boy band and pop-rock trio, The Ark. She finally gets the chance to see them live and meet them with her online friend Juliet. The story unravels from there. This book explores fandom, idealising celebrities and imagining people complexly and I was gripped the whole way through.
4. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (review)
Man. Whenever people ask me what my favourite book has been this year, this book kept springing to the forefront of my mind. Firstly, the concept is A+. Our characters Mateo and Rufus both receive a call from Death Cast to tell them they are going to die in 24 hours. The story is dual narrated by the both of them on their last day on Earth. The story is engaging, the characters are complex and wholesome, and everything is upsettingly fantastic all at once. What I particularly love about Adam’s writing is the threads he strings throughout, connecting puzzle pieces of the plot together. It’s so cleverly done.
5. This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction as I always find it quite slow to read, and not as engaging as fiction. This book is a whole different ball game, though. You’ve probably heard of it, but if not, Adam Kay used to be a Junior Doctor in the NHS. He quit, for reasons that become apparent in his book, and is now a comedian. This book is a compilation of diary snippets about his time as a doctor. From the hilarious and ridiculous to upsetting and devastating. This book gripped me, and really shines a light on the conditions and underfunding of the NHS.
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M.B. Danforth.
- An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (review)
- What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
The ones that let me down:
These are all ones that, for me, either didn’t live up to my expectation of them or they simply weren’t my cup of tea. Don’t completely rule them out though, one person’s unfortunate disappointment is another person’s five-star read.
1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
This was a two-star book for me. I’d heard so much about it for years, but never quite got around to reading it. So when I finally picked it up, I was quite excited to delve in. However, it just really wasn’t my jam. I didn’t like the humour, and I didn’t care much about any of the characters. There also didn’t seem to be much of a plot. It would have been okay if I really loved one or the other, but I didn’t like either. This came very close to a DNF.
2. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker
I hadn’t heard much about this book until my friend sent it to me, and then I kept seeing it everywhere. It has also been turned into a TV mini series (which I haven’t seen so can’t judge). This was also a two-star book for me. It wasn’t awful, I just couldn’t quite get to grips with it. The mystery was definitely intriguing, don’t get me wrong, and I finished it because I wanted to know what happened to Nola. But honestly, I couldn’t get over the romanticising of the relationship between Nola and Harry. Like, I don’t want to hear about an old man’s struggle that he loves a fifteen-year-old girl?? Maybe I missed some deeper meaning in the plot? You be the judge of that – on Goodreads, this book is very much a 50/50 split of love/hate. I’m unfortunately in the latter half.
3. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This book was sat on my shelf for a few years before I finally got around to picking it up. This might be a controversial one, as I’ve seen a lot of glowing reviews. For me, I think it fell a bit short as I wanted more from it. I could see all the things the book was trying to do, and it’s ability to start discussions about mental health and suicide are only positive. I just don’t think it was done as well as it could have been. Also, the characters seemed to be given quirks for the sake of it, and I couldn’t believe the romance part at all. It wasn’t terrible, I just wished the characters were more three-dimensional and tangibly real as that would have helped me connect with the plot and important message.
4. The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares last Christmas and thought it was super cute. It wasn’t the best book ever, but it was a cute, easy to read Christmas pick me up. I went into this book, the *somewhat unnecessary but sure lets give it a go* sequel hoping for the same. It just felt a bit meh to me. A little forced, and trying to squeeze another story out of Dash and Lily. I definitely think I got to know their characters a bit more, and they felt more complex which I appreciated. However, I genuinely just got a bit bored by the plot. You could see what was going to happen in the end, and it kind of felt like the longest countdown of the twelves days waiting for it to happen. I’d say, pick up the first one, but maybe give this one a miss.
5. Release by Patrick Ness (review)
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this book at all. I actually loved half of it. I just didn’t love the other half. The story is set throughout one eventful day in the life of Adam Thorn, a gay teenager and son of a preacher. This half of the novel is so interesting, and I really enjoyed Adam’s story. However, the novel was dual narrated, and the second section was magical realism, and narrated by a ghost/fawn (?) I really tried to understand what was going in these chapters, but could never quite get there. I assume they were linked in some ways to Adam’s narrative, but it didn’t work for me. I love Patrick Ness’ writing, but in this case, I would loved to have a full contemporary novel from Adam’s perspective.
And that’s a wrap. What a year! What have been your favourite or least favourite books of 2018? Let me know below, I’d love to add some new books to my every growing TBR list for 2019.