Catching up, catching up. So behind, so behind.
Lexicon, by Max Barry
I have a rep at my library for picking book club books that my patrons would never in a zillion years have picked up on their own. This one falls into that category. (And people really, REALLY liked it, too. One of them kept saying, "I KNOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE SCIENCE FICTION, BUT IT'S PRETTY MUCH ABOUT REAL LIFE!")
I liked it, too, but then, that's not all that surprising—a super-sweary action-mystery about the power of language, about the abuse of said power, about the danger in only getting your information from one source, the danger in not digging deeper than the information that is handed to you, an anti-heroine AND a somewhat power-mad secret society of word-wielding "poets"...
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli:
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is Simon and Blue’s story, but the other characters are so real, so honest, that I hope Albertalli will revisit Creekwood High School in order to give everyone else some time in the spotlight. They’re all in my heart now, and I don’t want to let them go. I even empathized with Martin, whose behavior is so entirely reprehensible that the other characters would be ENTIRELY justified in not forgiving him. That’s an impressively fine line for an author to walk, to show a character’s heartbreak and misery without justifying his actions.
Penguin in Peril, by Helen Hancocks
This one KILLED ME. I loved that the text was so, so deadpan, but that the pictures were so, so funny. It made me laugh and laugh and laugh. The cats spending all of their money going to the movies and getting popcorn with sardines and their HOW TO SPEAK PENGUIN book and just EVERYTHING EVERYTHING EVERYTHING.
Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
This one's been on the NYT bestseller list for a while, which I find interesting because I've heard little-to-no buzz about it.
Anyway, it's a pretty straightforward dystopian adventure about A Country Divided Into Haves And Have-Nots, and starring a girl who (surprise!) is in the lower class. Rather unsurprisingly, she ends up being a special snowflake—unlike the rest of the people in her social class, she has superpowers like the people in the upper class—who attracts not one, but TWO princes, and so between the world/setting and the cultural stuff, it reads kind of like a cross between The Hunger Games and The Selection.
Points for a few twists near the end that actually result in AVOIDING the Special Snowflake trope AND the APPEARANCE of avoiding the Irresistible To All Straight Males trope, though I suspect that the series will ultimately end with her Irresistability Factor intact. Ah, well. One out of two isn't bad.
Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio
I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT. It's about family and embracing your differences and about assumptions and about looks versus temperament and I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT SOME MORE. The illustrations are funny and warm and I love the colors, too. (CAN YOU SEE WHY I'M NOT A PICTURE BOOK REVIEWER? GOOD LORD.)
The Shibboleth, by John Jacobs Horner
This is the sequel to The Twelve-Fingered Boy, and it is just as fantastic as the first one, with the same superb voice, the same Out There storyline—when you're making lists of Weird YA, don't leave these books off—with the added bonus of switching up the setting and expanding the world and adding a whole bunch of new characters, and and and... AND THEN IT GETS LOVECRAFTY.
Audacity, by Melanie Crowder:
From reading Russian poetry against her father’s wishes to secretly enrolling in school, from working to improve working conditions in New York City to women’s suffrage; Clara starts fighting for fairness and equality, for her own rights and the rights of others on page one, and keeps going right on through the Historical Note and the rest of the extensive back matter. It’s inspiring, empowering, beautifully written, and, yes, important: DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT MISS IT.