I’m 3/3 so far with these Top 5 Wednesday posts! Lucky for me, all of the topics this month have been ones that interested me anyway. I enjoy quite a variety of books, and especially since taking on my reading challenges, I’ve come across some great underrated gems. I actually tend to actively avoid some of the more popular/overhyped books, at least until the hype dies down, so there is plenty of room to discover new ones.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) The Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale
This series debuted in 2002, approximately the same time that big series like Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events really took off in my area. I was introduced to this series by a recommendation from my elementary school librarian at a Scholastic book fair. The series is about a young boy named Bobby Pendragon who learns that he is a Traveler, a person who travels to different worlds to make sure things go the right way during that world’s “turning point” which can be anything from a war between two groups, a natural disaster, etc. Each turning point is a battle against Saint Dane, a man who tries to push the worlds toward chaos. I thought this was a fantastic series with interesting, complex characters. I loved how each of the books tackled interesting topics such as animal rights, the role of technology in society, culture clashes, etc.
2) The With the Light series by Keiko Tobe
I read several of these books a few years ago, but was forced to stop mid-series because neither the library nor any bookstores nearby had all of the books. It is an excellent manga series about a Japanese family whose young son is diagnosed with autism. The books cover the day-to-day realities of living with a child who has autism, and does not shy away from difficult topics such as the lack of appropriate services, attitudes of others in the community, and difficult behaviours. Although the style may be confusing for people who are not used to reading manga, it does not take too long to get used to it. I would highly recommend this series for anyone who either has a family member or works with individuals with autism.
3) Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros
I read this book as part of one of my challenges, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to. The book is about a bestselling author with writer’s block who strikes up an online friendship with one of her Twitter followers. A big part of this story is told through the tweets between the two characters, and I really loved their interactions. I especially appreciated how this book gave a realistic and very respectful portrayal of online relationships, and I liked how their friendship progressed naturally. I think it’s great that there have been so many books recently that have addressed online friendships and relationships in a positive way. This book was a little on the short side, with only about 220 pages, and the ending was frustrating! I especially thought it was compelling since the majority of the story focused on just two characters, so they need to be strong in order to keep the reader interested.I think it is a great book, and one that really deserves more attention.
4) Mercy by Jodi Picoult
As I’ve mentioned a few times by now, Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and I have devoured nearly all of her books (except for her first two, and as of right now, her most recent). This was one of the first books by Jodi Picoult that I ever read, and it immediately became one of my favourite books. This one tackles the very controversial topic of assisted suicide. Cameron, a police chief, arrests his own cousin Jamie for killing his terminally ill wife, Maggie. The case goes to trial, hinging on the question of whether Maggie’s death was murder or a mercy killing. I later discovered that this book is not very popular among Jodi Picoult’s fans, although I’m not sure why that might be. As with all of her books, the writing and characters are very compelling and they drew me in right from the start. I love how Jodi Picoult always manages to take on difficult topics that are so open for discussion, and presents them in a very balanced way. Personally, I think this is one of her best books.
5) Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia
I’ve mentioned this book once before, so I won’t say too much here. It is an amazing YA book that takes a fairly mundane premise and carries it in a very unique direction. The book is about an extremely ambitious high school student named Reshma who wants to publish a fictional story based on her life to boost her applications to an Ivy League school. She decides that she needs to make herself seem more relatable by having more normal high school experiences, and sets out to do so in an unusual way. I expected this book to be a very light, typical high school story — and I have to say, my expectations for it were very low. Instead, what I discovered was a brilliant story about perfectionism, academic culture, and one of the most unlikable yet sympathetic characters I have ever encountered. I was shocked by how much I related to Reshma at times, although I definitely don’t think I am anywhere near as extreme as she is. This book is still relatively new, only debuting in August 2016 but it is well-worth reading. A lot of people tend to dislike it because they can’t get past how irritating Reshma can be, but if you can, you are in for an amazing story.