Thursday, April 8, 2010

Out of this World Spring and Summer Reads

Zombies, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, fairies and dystopic societies, they have all been markedly present in my reading material as of late. Perhaps it’s because these topics seem to be so prevalent in current popular culture or maybe it’s just that I have been making an effort to catch up on my paranormal reading because my desk was starting to overflow with reading copies. I’ve read countless paranormal novels over the last several months, some that are currently out and others, which will be released between now and this summer. As I’ve waded my way the through lackluster, uninspired ridiculousness I greatly feared that I would never come across a recommend worthy new novel. Who knew there could be that many horrid writers being published? Fortunately, after much toil, boredom, and hair pulling, I finally came across a few notable new novels in the genre.

Soulless by Gail Carriger, has been out since October, but since it’s sequel, Changeless just came out this month, it would be remiss of me not to mention it. This is that book that you pick-up, start to read, and then just can’t put down. It’s that novel that causes a smirk to cross your lips and your chest to tighten with a mixture of anticipation and downright enjoyment. Soulless, the first in a new series by Gail Carriger is that book. The perfect blend of paranormal, romance, comedy, alternative history, and steam punk, Soulless manages to reach beyond the genres with it’s wonderful prose, witty dialogue, and unforgettable characters.

Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, which will be released at the end this month, is a tremendously dystopic novel that faintly echoes themes from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. This is a teen novel, but one that’s premise will be appreciated by adults. The writer, a high school English teacher, does an incredible job of creating characters full of complexities and an environment that is both fantastic and harshly real in its depiction.

The Passage by Justin Cronin is a highly anticipated and much touted new novel out of Random House. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen so much hype for a science fiction novel. Usually, I’m turned off by excessive amounts of plugging because the novels rarely live up to the praise, but this is one book that paid off. The Passage is one of those books that is completely intimidating at first sight because of it's immense size, but once you've read the first few pages you discover an immersing story that sucks you in and refuses to let go. A perfect mixture of classic Michael Crichton meets Resident Evil, this is a novel capable of appealing to science fiction and more mainstream fiction readers, while still maintaining a uniqueness of it’s own. A perfect summer blockbuster that frustrated me to no ends because after nearly 1,000 pages I was loathe to see the end, and am now yearning for a sequel, even though this first book has yet to be released (June 8, 2010).

I would like to end this by taking the time to acknowledge a few of the sequels that are currently or about to be released. Darklight by Lesley Livingston (Wondrous Strange) and Hourglass by Claudia Gray (Evernight) are available now. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver); The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth), and Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink (Prophecy of the Sisters) are all out this summer. I have read each of these titles and they are all fantastic, but pay close attention to Guardian of the Gate, which is by far the best of the group.