The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (★★★★☆½)
This super original novel — Walker’s sophomore follow up to The Age of Miracles — explores a mysterious illness that quickly infects residents of an allegedly cursed college town in California, trapping the infected in a perpetual state of sleep. With a premise that’s as intriguing as her first novel (if you’re not in the know, it’s set in a world where the earth’s rotation begins to gradually slow down), it’s no surprise that I was immediately hooked. Pick up The Dreamers for the unique story, stay for the beautiful prose.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (★★★★☆½)
True crime enthusiast Stevie is determined to solve the decades-old murder and kidnapping at the prestigious Ellingham Academy boarding school. With a story that alternates between the present day and the events of 1936, when Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped, Johnson’s new series is a fun-page turner full of a lovable cast of weirdos and several intriguing mysteries to solve. The only downside? The book ends on a major cliffhanger that will leave you wanting so much more.
Much like Hot Tub Time Machine, you know exactly what you’re getting with this graphic novel. Starring a cutesy girl named Nora who happens to be dating a bear, My Boyfriend is a Bear is a surprisingly adorable story with even more adorable artwork from artist Cat Farris. A little weird at times (for obvious bear on human reasons), this graphic novel may be a metaphor for prejudices and the way that opposites attract … but also might not be a metaphor at all? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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The suspenseful follow-up to Final Girls tells the story of Emma, another survivor of trauma (Sager’s forte). 15 years after the disappearance of her Camp Nightingale cabin mates, Emma returns to the hoity-toity summer camp to learn what happened to Vivian, Natalie, and Allison all those years ago. Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers, Sager’s latest novel will keep you guessing (and screaming) until the very last page. Adapt this for the big screen, please and thanks.
This debut collection from Claire C. Holland combines two of my favorite things: feminist poetry and fictional final girls. Written in response to the 2016 election and the #MeToo movement (among other unfathomable goings on in the world), Holland’s poems explore the perspective of 40 female horror film survivors throughout the decades. Deeply unapologetic, this debut collection is a fitting tribute to final girls and the society that shapes them.
You by Caroline Kepnes (★★★★★)
Kepnes’ debut thriller is an incredibly disturbing novel about obsession in the social media age, including the unhealthy fixation we have with curating our own online personas. Full disclosure, I should not have enjoyed this dark and deranged novel told in the second person as much as I did. And I especially should not have been rooting for the charming, literary loving stalker/kidnapper/murderer the entire time. But here we are. Insert Sorry Not Sorry joke here.
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The Elizas by Sara Shepard (★★★☆☆½)
Sara Shepard’s latest adult novel is a thriller that features some of my favorite writing mechanisms, including an unreliable narrator and a story within a story. Unfortunately, like the majority of Shepard’s young adult novels, there is a heavy reliance on doubles (no more doppelgangers or twins ever again, please!), and the novel doesn’t get really interesting until about a third of the way through … before completely losing the plot again shortly thereafter.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (★★★★☆½)
Historical fantasy meets alternate history in this much happier and way more fantastical re-imagining of the life of Lady Jane Grey (AKA the Nine-Day Queen). Told by the trio now known as the Lady Janies, My Lady Jane follows book-loving Jane Grey, who lives in a world where some people can turn into animals. Unbeknownst to Jane, she’s going to be named next in line to the throne by her dying cousin, and she’s about to be married off to a man who is sometimes a horse. Sure it’s super wacky, but it’s also really funny and charming.
Frostblood by Elly Blake (★★★☆☆½)
I had a lot of trouble with the first 75% of Frostblood. Despite being blessedly fast-paced (the only thing that kept me going), the beginning of Blake’s book has a predictable plot that I’ve already read a million times over. Spoilers: the magical girl who can control fire is going to be the chosen one who falls in love with the attractive yet damaged man who can control ice. Thankfully, all that turned around when I got to meet the real villain of the story. Thanks for saving this entire series evil frost king!
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