We have reached the final month of 2020, and I’m sure many of us are ready to see this year go. However, let's try to focus on the positives. Staying at home so much has helped me to find so many amazing books! With Christmas around the corner, I’ve been thinking about some of the books I’ve read this year and how they would make great Christmas gifts. So if you know someone who’s putting books on their wish list (or you are that person), here are Tyler’s Top 5 Books of 2020.
5. The Threshing by Tim Grahl
Synopsis: After firestorms devastate the earth, the government must ration the little food that’s left. Factions must compete in the Threshing to win enough food to last a year. Jesse is chosen as her faction’s competitor and master coder but soon learns she is unknowingly part of a conspiracy to rebel against the corrupt government.
The Threshing is marketed to fans of The Hunger Games, but anyone who enjoys dystopian worlds will appreciate this book. The Threshing is an interesting take on virtual reality, and the plot kept me guessing until the last line. The Threshing is Tim Grahl’s first fiction novel, and the book proves that he’s just as good a fiction writer as he is a non-fiction writer!
4. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Synopsis: After losing his best friend, Tristan is sent to his grandparent’s farm to recover. While there, he falls through a hole and into Alke - a magical land governed by African gods. Before he can return home, Tristan must search for Anansi, the only being powerful enough to fix the hole that Tristan created.
This book had a perfect blend of action with developing diverse characters. It’s easy to feel Tristan’s pain as he loses his best friend, a unique way to start a fantasy adventure. The action scenes are well written and unexpected. I honestly did not know what would happen at the end, and the book set up a surprising plot twist. Kwame Mbalia also doesn’t follow the typical “quest” pattern. The majority of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky takes place in a reasonably small area, and many of the locations are revisited instead of just passed through. Similarly, the main protagonists meet characters who join them on the quest instead of simply showing up for a scene or two.
3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Synopsis: After Starr Carter watches her best friend Khalil get shot by a police officer, she is forced to stand up against the police officer responsible and fight for justice. While people question and argue over what happened to Khalil, racial tensions begin to rise, and Starr realizes she might be the only one who can stop the violence.
I don’t usually read a lot of contemporary fiction, but I really enjoyed The Hate U Give. Despite its length, the book was easy to read, and the chapters flew by. Angie Thomas did an incredible job dealing with racial tension and contrasting it with everyday life from different racial groups. Starr Carter goes to a primarily white high school but comes from a black community. Showing two opposite worlds and their impact on the main character makes the world of the story so much more realistic.
2. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
Synopsis: After surviving the brutal contest to become the king’s champion, Celaena Sardothien travels to the land of the Fae, where she learns to control her magic while trying keeping a dangerous secret hidden from everyone.
This book was super long, but the ending was well worth the wait. If you enjoy a series that leaves you on a massive cliffhanger at the end of the book, Heir of Fire is for you. The story is different from the first book in the series, so it might not meet your expectations if you enjoyed Throne of Glass. On top of that, this is absolutely not a standalone book, and the first two books in the series should be read first to understand what’s going on. The book has multiple POV’s throughout, all mysteriously connected and all building to that massive cliffhanger ending.
1. Monster by Michael Grant
Synopsis: The same radioactive material that created The FAYZ is now hurtling toward earth in meteor form. Instead of being contained inside an impenetrable dome, superheroes are now being formed all over the world. Heroes are fighting villains, and a world-wide war is brewing between those with powers and those without powers.
I’ve never read a book I enjoyed more than the original until I read Monster. It’s the first novel in Michael Grant’s sequel series to the Gone books. While the Gone series was amazing, Monster takes the world of the FAYZ to a whole new level. The premise is slightly different, as it’s no longer about every adult mysteriously vanishing from this small community. Instead, it almost mocks the superhero genre. Having powers is illegal and terrifying to the public, regardless of your morality. Unlike Heir of Fire, Monster can be read separately from the original Gone series and follows it's own storyline. It’s fast-paced, easy to read, and each chapter leaves you wanting more. There are a few central characters that continually evolve throughout the book, but in ways that you don’t expect. The cameos from the original series also serve a unique purpose, continually pushing the story forward.
If any one of those books sounds interesting, give them a try! I’m sure the authors would be excited to know that their book is going under the Christmas Tree this year!
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