I’m happy to be talking about some underrated gems that I read last year. (By underrated, I mean they don’t deserve enough word-of-mouth love.) Sorry it’s a little late too haha – I’ve been super busy with life! College has been really straining but I hope to be more active this semester! This list is also in no particular order (like usual for me).
10. Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer | My Review
This book is a little different than my usual genres, but I’m glad I picked it up! It’s veryyy dark (watch out for some heavy triggers that are mentioned in my review) and can become intense, but explores really engaging, dark emotions. There are delicious plot twists left and right, and the main character is morally grey in the best of ways. It’s a bit hard to stomach at times, but the perfect story for fans of shows like Hannibal or Dexter.
9. American Panda by Gloria Chao | My Review & Jeann’s Review
This light, delectable contemporary follows a Taiwanese teenager, Mei, who’s starting school at MIT early! It’s super sweet, and I loved seeing the interactions that Mei has with her family. I really love seeing the increase of Asian representation in contemporaries, and will support all that I can in seeing characters like me and my friends show up on the page! <3
8. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
I loved this Mughal-inspired fantasy! It had the perfect blend of romance, intrigue, adventure, and story-telling to keep readers entranced. *heart eyes* It had such a satisfying ending as well, even though it’s a series (I believe there will be companion novels)! I drew some fan art of it on Twitter, and am just in loveee with the story in general. Think of it as beginning like The Wrath and the Dawn but with mature characters, like the dazzling world-building of City of Brass, with a heart-stopping romance of A Crown of Wishes. Definitely a must-read for fantasy readers!
7. Blood and Sand by CV Wyk | My Review
This book loosely follows the tale of Spartacus – but if the legend was a woman! I really enjoyed the world-building and characterizations of Attia and Xanthus. They have a wonderful, slow-burn romance in the midst of danger and disguise. Really recommend this one for fantasy readers as well!
6. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik | My Review & Jeann’s Review
Jeann and I both really loved this book! Novik writes some amazing folklore-inspired fantasies, and Spinning Silver is no different. Although the cover has the same format as Uprooted, the books are nowhere near alike and can be read separately, and in no particular order! They’re both very precious in my heart, due to the heartwarming stories and magnificent story-telling. All I can say is, her writing is simply magnetic.
5. Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston | My Review
This sci-fi had everything I love in a space opera! There’s a grand mystery, feisty heroine, hella action, and a romance that will make your atoms tingle. I really enjoyed this Anastasia-inspired sci-fi, and absolutely cannot wait for the sequel. I really recommend it to sci-fi lovers, but also YA readers who like adventure + romance as well!
4. My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma | My Review
This book was such a delightful Bollywood-esque rom-com! It’s a tad dramatic and predictable, but I think perfect for YA contemporary readers. It’s a very fluffy romantic comedy with witty dialogue and amazing family dynamics. You’ll fall in love with both Winnie and her wonderful family! The love interest is also super cute.
3. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
I really think this book deserves more love! Told from the perspective of a gay black teen, Moss, Anger is a Gift follows the tense neighborhood where police brutality is prominent, and is becoming even more relevant in a school setting. It’s gripping and heart-felt, with similar themes to The Hate U Give. It addresses both political, social, and economic aspects of living in the USA, and really moved me. It’s long, but trust me – so worth the read!
2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | My Review
I know this isn’t quite underrated, but I can’t stop gushing about this series! I really adored the world-building in Children of Blood and Bone and the amazing character development! I really think this book expresses the peak of YA, both story-wise and diversity-wise, and I cannot want for more books from the series (as well as a possible movie)!
1. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse | My Review
This is the first book of a Native American-inspired Urban Fantasy series, and it is absolutely S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! I adored the heroine – who is a bit unlikeable but TOTALLYY fierce – and the amazing world-building/monsters/action-packed plot the author instills. Really recommended for urban fantasy lovers who need an exciting adventure!
And that’s it, lovely readers and bloggers! Hope you found a new book to add to your TBR, and let me know some of your top recs from last year!