>Books of 2010 in review

>have read a total of thirty-seven new novels during the year of 2010. The entire list is printed below for your perusal, with the numbers at the end of each being the date I finished them. But I’m only going to talk about some of them here—the ones that impacted me the most. That’s not to say that the others had no impact on me at all, just that I have to pick and choose in this review.

First, let’s talk about Anthem. It’s a short book, barely a hundred pages long, and yet it impacted me even more than Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World. This dystopian novelette is based on the theory that our society will digress if we begin to see ourselves as a collective unit rather than unique individuals. I haven’t read Ayn Rand’s longer works, but I can see how this theory could prove to be true if put into action. So much of a child’s development stems from competition. It’s so much easier to be selfish and push yourself to be better than your siblings or your classmates rather than take yourself out of the picture and strive to make others better. If you’re working for someone other yourself, the motivation is gone. Anthem is similar to Brave New World in that these people have been conditioned since birth to believe in the greater cause, to squash that individuality and creativity within them. And that is much scarier than the idea that Big Brother is always watching.

The only thing I have to say about Specials is that it made me regret wasting my time on the entire Uglies series. The other books were thoughtful and interesting to read, as well as packed with some nice action. This one just made me want to throw it across the room and slap someone’s face.

Let’s talk about the Bronte sisters for a moment. Bella says in Twilight that she reads Wuthering Heights for fun when the rest of her life is dismal and depressing because Edward is not paying enough attention to her. This leads me to believe that Stephenie Meyer knows even less about Wuthering Heights than I did before I read it. Nobody in their right minds would read Wuthering Heights for fun, especially not some shallow girl who has nothing better to do than moon over some random guy she hasn’t even met yet. The story is told in this stupid flashback sequence like an awkward, contrived movie, there is no protagonist because all the characters are insipid and whiny, and Heathcliff isn’t even dashing or witty to make up for how horrible he is to everybody else. At least Edmond Dantes ruins everyone’s lives with style. Heathcliff is just a jerk. So anyway, since I’d heard more people talk about Wuthering Heights than Jane Eyre, I figured that meant it was the better of the two novels. I don’t know what possessed me to attempt Jane Eyre based on that reasoning, but I am glad I did. Jane is a truly likeable character, and Mr. Rochester rivals Mr. Darcy in witty banter (although not in chivalry, sadly). And their relationship wasn’t the only thing driving the story, either. I loved reading about Jane’s childhood at the orphanage, the encounter with the gypsy woman, and even her awkward relationship with St. John and his sisters. The ending was a little corny, but the rest of the book made it worth it.

The Percy Jackson series obviously was a big deal to me, as I read all five books in less than a month. I think I finally noticed them because of the movie release, and of course, I went to the text first to see what all the hype was about. Now, when it comes to writing, plot, and character development, Rick Riordan is no JK Rowling. And yet that doesn’t stop me from greedily flipping the pages of his novels, desperate to find out what happens next. I love the way he re-invents mythology, and I especially love the modern characterization of the gods. Poseidon wear a fisherman outfit. Ares is a tough biker dude. And even though Riordan makes sure that there is plenty of mythology being retold in each book, the overarching plot still is different and exciting to read. I’d recommend it to any one who is a young adult fantasy fan, and even some people who are not. My final book of this year is another Riordan, The Lost Hero, which I think I actually liked even better than his first series just because the main character, Jason, is way cooler than Percy.

Elantris is worth noting because I loved it so much more than Mistborn. Sean went on and on about how great Brandon Sanderson was, and so I read Mistborn, but I couldn’t really get into it. Now I think that it is primarily due to his main character in that series. I loved both the male and female main characters in Elantris and also the world, the magic system, and the plot. I was gripped until the end. I had no idea how it was going to work out, but I had undying faith in Raoden’s abilities to figure it all out. I will be reading more Sanderson from here on out.

I also have to give a nod to a book that didn’t make it on this list—Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I’m ashamed to say that I thought I could make it through the unabridged version, and I couldn’t. Thirteen hundred pages is just a bit too much for me. Although it wasn’t really the size of the book that daunted me, overall, it was the amount of the book that was dedicated to the history of France. Yes, the novel is about France. That is why I chose to read the unabridged version, so I could get at what Victor Hugo was trying to say about his country. But all I got was an extremely long and boring history lesson. It was during the hundred-or-so-page description of the Battle of Waterloo that I knew I was never going to finish.

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3 Responses to >Books of 2010 in review

  1. Bailey says:

    >I agree about Specials – I loved the rest of the Uglies series and I was just so disappointed. I felt like it could have been so much more and rounded out the rest of the books in a really good way, and it just didn't live up to my expectations.

    Question: did you finish the Hunger Games books? I only saw the first one on your list, and I'm going to be really sad if you didn't like it!

  2. Shu says:

    >If you have never picked one up, I highly recommend anything and everything by Jasper Fforde. I'm currently in the middle of his book Shades of Grey, which takes place in a dystopian society with the collective mentality. Humans behaving like a hive is rather disturbing.

  3. Jes. says:

    >Bailey, I liked Hunger Games all right, but the present tense bugged me and I couldn't believe that after all that Katniss didn't realize that Peeta was actually in love with her.
    Hi, Shu! I'll definitely put Jasper Fforde on my reading list for 2011. Can you tell I kind of like reading dystopias?

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