I have no idea how it happened, but I somehow managed to completely miss the fact that a topic had been posted for this month. It’s probably because the Monthly Recommendations group on Goodreads in general tends to be less active than some of the reading challenge groups that I’m part of, so it gets knocked further down the list and I don’t always see when there are new posts made. Luckily, I realized it before the end of the month so I still have time to squeeze in a post! Unfortunately, I did not have as much time as I usually liked to find books that I wanted to mention, so I’m sure I’m missing something. I may need to come back to this topic again at some point. When I first saw the prompt, I wasn’t sure if I was going for books with lower ratings that I really enjoyed, or books that have very few ratings in general. I decided to go with a mix of both since I think both are underrated in a way. These also all happen to be books that I read and enjoyed this year.
Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group created by Kayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters. Monthly topics cane be found on the Goodreads page here.
1) Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
This is a book that people seem to be enjoying, but not nearly enough people have read it. It has an average rating on Goodreads of 4.11 stars, but only just over 1600 ratings and even fewer reviews. It is about an African-American girl named Claudia whose best friend Monday has disappeared. The longer Monday is away, the more Claudia begins to worry and when she tries to ask Monday’s family where she is, they are evasive and behaving strangely. Claudia decides to take it upon herself to figure out what happened to Monday. I went into this book not expecting very much, since I rarely read YA mystery/thrillers, and I was completely blown away by it. I completely devoured it and I got so invested in the characters, even though I didn’t find the twist particularly surprising. I think it says a lot about a book though that I can predict what happened, and still really enjoy the storyline and the characters. I would also recommend Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut Allegedly although I have to say I liked this one a little bit more.
2) Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill
I picked up this book in the first place because it reminded me of the kind of story Jodi Picoult would write, and I was not disappointed. The book has an average rating of 3.94 stars on Goodreads, based on just over 1200 ratings so it is not very well-known despite being out since last August. It is about two mothers who have not given their children the MMR vaccine, one by choice and the other because her daughter has an allergy that prevents her being able to safely get the vaccine. When their children get sick with measles, the two families find themselves at the center of a controversy about vaccines and the parents’ right to choose. The mother of the child who medically could not be vaccinated decides to file a lawsuit against the other family to argue that their decision not to vaccinate caused her daughter’s illness. I remember seeing a Law & Order episode in the past on a similar topic, and found it very interesting. I loved how the author presented the issue from a variety of angles, and in a very balanced way. It is definitely one of my favourites of the year so far.
3) Bang by Barry Lyga
This is another book that became an immediate favourite because it was so powerfully written. It has an average rating of 3.99 stars on Goodreads based on about 1500 ratings. I follow quite a few Goodreads groups that discuss YA books, and this one is rarely (if ever) mentioned! The book follows a boy named Sebastian who accidentally shot and killed his infant sister when he was only four. Sebastian has been living with the guilt ever since, in a town where everyone knows about his past. This was one of the most powerful YA books that I’ve ever read, and I loved that it took a very unique topic and handled it really well. I also loved how it was not your typical YA contemporary romance where a new relationship fixes everything for the main character. Sebastian was a complex and well-written character, and the author really brought him to life. It was an absolutely outstanding book and I wish more people knew about it.
4) Crosstalk by Connie Willis
This is probably the most well-known of all the books on my list, with just over 7600 ratings (with an average of 3.52 stars), but I still find it very underrated. This was one of the books I was most looking forward to reading, and I was so glad to find a copy from the library. It is a sci-fi book set in a world where people can choose to undergo a procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners, allowing them to be more attuned to each other’s feelings. When Briddey’s boyfriend Trent suggests they undergo the procedure before they get engaged, she is surprised to find that not only did the procedure not connect them, but she has connected with someone else — and is able to read his mind. This book essentially takes social media to an extreme, with a world where constant connection and communication is expected. I thought the characters were very interesting, and the storyline was fascinating. I’m so glad I finally got to read this one!
5) Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski
In contrast, I think this is the least-known of all the books I’ve listed here. This book has a 3.42 star average rating, with just under 350 ratings, despite being out for more than a year. This book is about two nerdy teenagers, Meg and Linus, who are best friends and who are both gay. When Meg’s long-time girlfriend suddenly breaks up with her, she distracts herself by trying to match Linus up with his crush, despite not knowing whether this guy is even interested in boys. I thought the book was absolutely adorable and fun to read, and I loved the dynamics between the characters. Since reading it, I have seen quite a few people complain that the book practically ignores the possibility that Linus’s crush might be bi, with statements like “we don’t even know if he’s gay” without including bisexual as a possibility. Personally, that did not bother me when I read it, because I have often heard the word “gay” used as a catch-all term for gay or bi, even if that is not technically the most appropriate use of the term. However, I can see where that might be upsetting to readers. Aside from that, I thought the story was so cute and I had a great time reading it.
I haven’t heard of any of these books so you’re right that they’re extremely underrated! They all sound amazing though, especially Monday’s Not Coming and Keep You Safe. I’ll have to check them out 😀
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