This is the third book in the Hunger Games series and it takes the same themes to a bigger stage. Instead of being put in an arena and forced to fight other teenagers to the death on TV, our heroine, Katniss is now at war but still being filmed for TV as a symbol that her side can rally around. It’s still surprising that this is considered a book for “young adults” (doesn’t that mean kids?) when you check the count of gruesome deaths. Unlike the first two books, where most characters were either good or evil and Katniss just had to figure out which it was, this book leaves a lot of room for interpretation. In fact, you’re even left wondering about the two guys who made up Katniss’ love-triangle. And since we know that’s the part you’re all actually waiting to hear, we will reassure you: Yes, she does finally make a decision. But she takes her time doing it.
4 The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella
If the erudite metaphor of American society isn’t your thing then there’s always Twilight to the rescue. In this case, a companion novella to the trilogy. It follows a newborn, which in this case means a newly turned vampire rather than an actual baby, who is briefly mentioned in the third book in the Twilight series. Although we could go into more detail, it probably won’t help you much if you haven’t read the rest of the series. So we’ll just tell you this: If you liked Twilight, you’ll like this. If you hold it in the contempt that much of the intellectual world does, then this will give you just another opportunity for curling your lip up in a self-satisfied smirk of superiority.
Jonathon Franzen’s most recent novel follows a family of four throughout the young adulthood of the children and middle age of the parents. Franzen uses the characters and their lovers and potential lovers to explore what most of us actually mean when we say freedom. The book got great reviews from snooty critics and is just accessible enough that you might like it even if you don’t fancy yourself a part of the intelligentsia. In fact, if you’re not, you may enjoy making fun of the self-righteous elite along with the book. Just don’t get sucked in too much, because you probably have a version of their flaws too. That is the whole point, after all.
2 Dead in the Family
Imagine a complicated soap opera that has run for multiple seasons. Now make all of the characters vampires, fairies, shape shifters, witches, telepaths, werewolves and a viking who are trying to leave peacefully with their human neighbors. Now put them all into a small town in Louisiana. Now you may somewhat understand the Southern Vampire Mysteries series. If this all sounds familiar to you but you’ve never read the books, it probably means you’re watching too much TV. The hit series True Blood is based on these books. This book is the 10th in the series and, like any good soap opera, continues were the last one left off as the characters try to work out the complex family issues that can easily surface among the undead.
1 The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest
This third and final book in the Millennium Trilogy, which began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, just continues to get bigger and more complicated. It feels like an improvement on the second book and by the end everyone has had their comeuppance. With a swirling mix of spies, gangs, corrupt corporations and creepy undergrounds, it’s pretty impressive that this book still manages to feel realistic. That probably has to do with the fact that the author sometimes lectures about real-life societal woes. There’s nothing that takes the fun out of bad guys like making them real. But on the other hand, that makes us feel just a little righteous while reading it, so it’s ok.
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