The Reader by Traci Chee

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In Sefia’s world, no one can read. After her parents suffer a violent death, Sefia finds what she learns is a book in the wreckage of their home. Travelling with her aunt Nin, Sefia is forbidden to even look at the book; it’s too dangerous. But, when Nin is kidnapped by the same people Sefia believes killed her family, Sefia somehow knows she must use the book to rescue her aunt. With the help of the book, a mute boy named Archer, and a ship full of pirates, Sefia sets out of a quest to save Nin and learn the truth about her past.

This one is a brilliant start to a new series! If you like The Girl from Everywhere, you’ll love this one. It’s full of adventure, secrets, plot twists, and (of course) romance. Some parts of the story can be confusing, especially when Sefia’s story mixes with the one in her book, but everything comes together toward the end. The characters are AMAZING as well — I would read a book about any one of them. I’ll definitely be reaching for the sequel, and you probably will too! Pro-tip: pay attention to the words by the page numbers and the large lettering throughout the book.

Rating: 4/5

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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In a time when young women are expected to act like proper ladies and aspire only to an advantageous marriage, Faith wants to be a scientist. Fascinated by the natural world, Faith takes pleasure in accompanying her father to fossil digs, even though she is not taken seriously because of her gender. When a scandal breaks in the scientific world involving Faith’s father, her family flees to a remote island. There, secrets about her father’s past begin to come to light, and Faith discovers that he may have brought an even bigger, more dangerous secret with him to the island. Using her deductive reasoning skills, Faith must uncover the truth of what’s happening on the island — before she gets sucked into its mysteries.

I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed this book. It’s historical fiction, but it’s completely accessible and a super fast paced read. I especially love how this book tackles women’s rights, women in STEM, and fake news — all wrapped up in a murder mystery! You will definitely be eager to find out how the story ends. Characters are entertaining and well-rounded, and I liked that the author gave particular depth to the character of Faith’s mother. If you like historical fiction, mysteries, STEM, or are just looking for a good read, give this one a try. Worth it!

*Costa Book of the Year, 2015

Rating: 4.5/5

 

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

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Every twelve years, Nadia’s world forgets. They lose the memories of their past, their families — even of who they are. To remember, members of Nadia’s society must write down their lives in books. Whatever is written in their books is true. But Nadia knows that some things written down are lies. And she knows because Nadia doesn’t forget. When the rest of her world scrambles to rebuild their fractured lives, Nadia remembers everything that happened before the Forgetting. She knows that her real father altered his book to start a new family. And she knows that her mother is losing her mind because of his betrayal. Somehow, Nadia must discover the truth behind the Forgetting, before her remaining family is ripped apart forever.

If you’re a fan of DivergentThe TestingHunger Games, or any other YA Dystopia, this one is a solid pick for you. Personally, I found it to be slower-paced than I usually like my novels, but its premise is a good one. The author does a good job of examining human nature and posing questions about it. What would you do, if you knew everyone was just going to forget? It’s an interesting thought that could lead to a heavy discussion. If you can get through the parts that drag, the ending is a good one.

Rating: 3/5