During this quarantine, Herald staff members are finding more time than ever to get lost in the pages of some pretty awesome books. Check out their reviews below, you might just find your new favorite read!
Harrison Freuck, Sports Editor:
“Long Bright River” by Liz Moore is about a female police officer in a Pennsylvania suburb whose younger sister is addicted to drugs and lives in a community ravaged by the opioid epidemic. Throughout the novel, you bounce back-and-forth between the past and present, developing the plot and the characters seamlessly and adding intrigue from start to finish. Overall, the book was a great mystery novel with some added suspense late in the story.
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson is a self-help book that isn’t so much about helping as it is about how afraid people are of the world and, more specifically, death. Manson uses humor to take the uncomfortableness out of the touchy topics he discusses, and also provides useful anecdotes to put everything into perspective.
“Everything is F*cked” by Mark Manson is the follow-up to the book above. While this book is lacking in some of the depth provided in the first book, it still provides useful information, talking about how awful the world is and the issues with the humans living on it. Manson, a blogger, has humor shining through the pages once again.
“Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a novel about Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who travels to the United States for university. It follows Ifemelu’s experiences in both countries and the stark contrast between the cultures and societies of each, while also threading in the love story of Ifemelu and her high school partner, Obinze. Adichie did a great job making a 600-page book feel not long enough by including interesting details and storylines throughout.
“The Holdout” by Graham Moore (screenwriter of “The Imitation Game”) is a mystery novel following Maya Seale, a juror for a missing-persons case regarding a 15-year-old who is the heiress to a billion-dollar real estate fortune. Seale convinces the rest of the jurors to find the defendant not guilty and 10 years later, the jurors reunite at a hotel for the filming of a documentary. When one of the jurors is found dead in their room, all signs point to Seale as the killer. The rest of the book weaves the two cases together as secrets emerge with drastic consequences for everyone involved.
Mary Magnuson, Digital News Editor:
John Green’s latest novel, “Turtles All the Way Down,” follows two high-schoolers who fashion themselves as amateur detectives after local authorities offer a hefty award for any information pertaining to a missing billionaire. Luckily for protagonist Aza, she’s connected to the billionaire’s lonely, angsty son from a summer camp, and nobody argues when she pops back into his life. Hijinks ensue, friendships strain and a romance emerges.
While the book reads exactly like every other Green novel and incorporates favored Green themes like poverty, absent parents and death, none of his other books dive so intimately into teen anxiety. Aza’s personal struggles with mental health provide an abrupt, blunt, even bleak lens for readers, to the point that the rest of the plot takes a side stage.
Don’t be fooled. “Turtles” isn’t “The Fault in Our Stars” — it’s no up-and-down teen romance. While there is a romantic subplot, it doesn’t really feel like anything more than a subplot. Frankly, I struggle in characterizing its plot as a rollercoaster of ups and downs, as it reads more like a slide downwards. Green writes easy, accessible prose, something that tends to accentuate the heartbreaks he writes in his other novels, and his writing drags the reader into Aza’s broken mind.
Overall, “Turtles” is the coming-of-age tale lots of teens might find solace in, and it’s the kind of story that stands out in the young adult lineup these days. It’s a gritty, honest take on illness, fragile friendships, generational trauma and both poverty and superfluous wealth together. It won’t take you more than a week to read — it only took me a day — so it’s worth your time, though it’s not the happy, uplifting tale you might need in quarantine.
Audrey Swanson, Copy Chief:
“Six of Crows” is the first book in a duology by Leigh Bardugo, and let me tell you — it slaps.
The book is set in a fantasy world where one race of people, the Grisha, are born with a magical power, which may sound cliche, but the overworked trope, in this case, is pulled off perfectly. Six teenagers, all criminals of some kind — but all with heart-wrenching backstories and mostly lovable personalities — who fit about as well together as peanut butter and pizza (it’s terrible and you can’t tell me otherwise) are tied together in a plot to break a scientist out of an unbreakable prison.
The story runs like a magical, more emotionally involved “Ocean’s Eleven,” and it’s technically a young adult novel, but as a person who is generally put off by the common young adult novel cliches and tropes, I loved it. Instead of a protagonist who is “the chosen one” or a “bland white girl who is plain but also beautiful and all the boys love her and she also needs to lead the revolution with no prior experience or training,” “Six of Crows” has a diverse set of characters who each get their time within the book to show their emotional complexity and personal growth. I thought I would hate some of them for the entire book, but I was wrong. They’re all beautifully written people and I love them.
While it’s set in a fantastical world of magic and adventure, the book touches not-so-briefly on a lot of heavy topics like discrimination, institutionalized hate, slavery, the rich taking advantage of the poor and people having to become criminals just to survive, among other things. Also, and the reason why I was convinced to read this book in the first place, the duology is LGBT friendly, my friends. All in all, 10/10 would recommend.