Top 5 Wednesdays: No Thanks

I don’t know why I always have such a hard time with these kinds of more abstract prompts! As a twist on the American Thanksgiving this week, the prompt is meant to be about characters who find themselves in situations that they would not be thankful for. It’s almost like the kind of prompt that’s so broad that it becomes really difficult for me to conceptualize. My natural inclination is to pick characters from most YA fantasy books since many of them are involved in very difficult situations, or thrillers since those tend to involve something very scary or at least uncomfortable. I’m sure there are many situations in those kinds of books that the characters would not be thankful for. I also thought it might be challenging to come up with examples that weren’t too spoiler-y.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – The main character, Maggie, spent several weeks in a home that was supposedly be haunted, although she does not believe that it was. Her father also wrote a best-selling book about their experiences. Realistically, she probably wouldn’t be thankful for her situation either way. If the ghosts were real, her time there would have been frightening. On the other hand, if they weren’t it would mean her father lied. Essentially, that is actually the situation we find the character in at the start of the book, and she definitely was not thankful for being put in that position.

2) Scythe by Neal Shusterman – This series is set in a world where there is no natural death or disease, so in order to control population size, some are chosen to become Scythes, responsible for “gleaning” people. The main characters, Citra and Rowan, are pitted against each other in a competition to become a Scythe, a role which neither of them really want. Only one can win the role, and as a consequence of the two of them apprenticing for the same Scythe, an additional condition is added: the winner would have to glean the loser as their first act as Scythe. Given that how much they care for each other, it’s a particularly difficult situation and definitely not one they are thankful for.

3) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – I feel like this is kind of an obvious choice, but it does fit. It is about a 13-year-old girl named Leni who moves with her parents up to Alaska, on the whim of her father, who is a Vietnam veteran struggling with PTSD because he thinks it would be better for them. Unfortunately for the family, the darkness and isolation of Alaskan winters take a toll on her father’s mental state, so although there were some parts of living in Alaska that Leni and her mother came to love, it was also a situation they would not have been thankful for when her father was at his worst. Leni’s father showed a lot of anger and paranoia toward society, and it would have been very difficult for her to live with, so likely a situation she was not thankful for.

4) An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena – This is another potentially obvious choice given the premise, but one that the characters definitely would not have been thankful about. The characters in this book are on trapped together after being snowed in at a hotel, and guests are being killed off one by one, leaving them all to figure out who among them could be the killer. I think the characters in this one would especially not be thankful for their circumstances because they went to the hotel in the first place to relax and unwind, or to have a romantic weekend away with their partner. Instead, they end up with their lives in danger and struggling to keep themselves safe while trying to uncover who is responsible. It’s definitely not the vacation they wanted or expected, and I’d imagine they would not be thankful for it at all.

5) The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond – I’d been meaning to read this book for so long, and I’m glad I finally picked it up early this year! This book is about a newlywed couple, Alice and Jake, who sign up to be a part of The Pact, a group devoted to maintaining healthy marriages with a very strict list of rules, but the further into it they get, the more they start to question its methods. It had such a fascinating premise and presumably was well-intentioned, but the rules and consequences were not what the couple expected when they signed up for it. Although The Pact seemed like a great idea in the beginning, the characters quickly realized it was much darker than they thought and it was definitely not something they were thankful to be a part of.


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