Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

When it comes to unique books I’m not sure I have read very many that really qualify as truly unique because most of what I read is rather mainstream. However, there are a few books despite that which I think are pretty unique for various reasons. I’m not sure if I can come up with a full list of ten books, but I’ll try my best.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
What makes Ancillary Justice so unique is how the author bends gender with everyone on the page being referred to with a feminine pronoun. It makes for an incredibly unique reading experience and to be honest, it makes things a little bit confusing for the first piece of the novel. You really have to force your brain to work a different way in order to make sense of the characters and their actions.

World War Z by Max Brooks
I loved this book because of its unique format. The choice to use imagined interviews with key players to create a chronicle of the events surrounding a zombie apocalypse was a fantastic storytelling device. I was glued to this book the entire time I was reading it because the interviews felt so real despite the fact that I knew they were fictional.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’m sure there have been other books that tried the approach of featuring a player inside of a massive online game, but if I ever find another one worth reading I’ll hold it up in comparison to Ready Player One every time. Ernest Cline did a great job creating a virtual world for his characters to run around in and there was something exciting about having a fictional world inside of another fictional world be the main playground for the story to take place within.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
There is a lot of post-apocalyptic YA fiction out there in the world to consume, but very little of it is so unique that it really grabs your attention. So many of those stories follow a very limited number of tropes, but The Maze Runner does a lot of things very differently and I’m very excited to see how the general public accepts the movie version later this year because I think it’s exactly the unique YA infusion the genre needs.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Atwood
Most people might not thing Gone with the Wind is all that unique, but it was pretty unique for me to decide to read it. My wife loves the book and I’d never read it before so I took the plunge to see what it was all about. I had a very mistaken understanding of what the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was in reference to, so when I finished the book in the early morning hours one day I was very upset. I can usually accept just about anything in a book without getting angry, but this one got me.

Kraken by China Mieville
I’m not sure Kraken is unique in comparison to other books of its kind, but it was certainly unique to me when I read it. I had never read a book quite like Kraken before and it took a lot of brainpower for me to dive into that kind of writing style. I thought it was a great book and I’d like to read more of the author’s work someday.

The God Engines by John Scalzi
This is actually a novella, but I still think it’s one of the most unique things I’ve read in the past few years. There are some really interesting religious themes in The God Engines, and the end of the story is mind-blowing in not only its abruptness but in its intensity.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Legion is another novella, and I really liked how Sanderson took the main character and turned him into a cast of characters by having the supporting characters be manifestations of the main characters psyche. The interplay between characters is very unique as a result and it allows for some interesting plot developments. There is a sequel coming out later this year that I’m very excited to read.

Feed by Mira Grant
Zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days between comics, television, and books. The thing is, almost all of these stories deal with the actual outbreak of the zombies. What makes Feed so unique is that it deals with life after the outbreak when society has figured out how to survive and make a life in a world that has zombies roaming around. I think that’s pretty unique within the particular sub-genre.

The Daedalus Incident by Michael J. Martinez
It hasn’t been very long since I read The Daedalus Incident but I still love how it’s a wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. Most books only manage to focus on one of those two genres, but this one blends the two almost seamlessly to create something entirely new and exciting.

Look at that! I managed to find ten unique books after all!


Book Review: “Fuse” by Julianna Baggott

FuseWhen I read the first book in The Pure Trilogy last year I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a book I’d purchased on the cheap while it was on sale, and it was a recommendation by Amazon given some of my past purchases. Turns out, Pure was a pretty decent book with a lot of good things going for it. That meant I wanted to read the second and third book as well, but while the second book had just been released, I didn’t want to read it until the third book was available. I had a feeling I’d be frustrated at not being able to jump from one to the next immediately.

I was right. Fuse is a fantastic book, and it continues the story that came before in Pure with great skill and still manages to keep the reader guessing.

Back again are Pressia, Partridge, El Capitan, and Bradwell as they strive to find a way to bring down the Dome and find a cure for the disfigurements all of them from outside the dome are burdened with. In order to do both of those things a lot of sacrifices are going to need to be made by everyone involved because the world they live in is brutal and doesn’t like to stand down when it is confronted.

Partridge is forced back into the Dome as his father begins executing the wretches outside the Dome one by one until he turns himself in. Once there, he discovers that his father wants him to assume control when he ultimately can’t survive any longer due to his DNA unraveling so rapidly. Partridge is not entirely sure how he feels about that arrangement, but he doesn’t really find himself with a choice in the matter.

The rest of the characters try to chase down a cure for the fusings everyone suffers from on a daily basis. They’ve got a small black robot box by the name of Fignan feeding them clues as to the whereabouts of the next piece of the cure, but it’s taking them a long time to figure things out. Eventually they figure things out and as a result of the events that transpire Pressia uncovers a huge secret about Partridge’s father and Bradwell winds up with six giant wings. Sit and think on that for a minute. It’s crazy.

Discussing the finer plot points of these books is difficult because almost everything is a spoiler for something else, but I can say that El Capitan really took over this book for me. He’s been an interesting character to me since the first book and in Fuse he gets a lot of screen time that turns into superb character development, especially in regards to his brother who is permanently fused to his back. The two of them are forced by necessity to co-exist in a very unique fashion and in this book that relationship is forced to adapt and grow in ways I didn’t see coming.

Once again the world-building and character development by Julianna Baggott is amazing on the whole. I found myself sitting back in awe at some of the visuals she was painting in my mind using nothing but the words on the page. I was almost sad to be finished with the book when I was, and am certainly glad I had another book left.

If you haven’t given The Pure Trilogy a try yet you really should. It’s one of the most well-written and well-conceived trilogies of its kind and should be held up as a wonderful example of what YA literature can be if the author is willing to rely on ingenuity and unique ideas rather than well-worn tropes.

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Up Next: “Fuse” by Julianna Baggott

FuseWhen I read the first book in this trilogy last year I was taken completely by surprise with how much I enjoyed it. Julianna Baggott is an absolute master at world building and she’s created a world with these books that rivals some of the best I’ve seen. The entire premise of this trilogy is fantastic and is something so refreshing in YA literature.

I’ve got Fuse to read at the moment, but I’ve also go the final book in the trilogy, Burn, which came out just a week or two ago, to read immediately after. I was saving Fuse to read until Burn came out because I didn’t want to wait between them. I expect I’m going to love both of the books immensely by the time I’m finished reading them over this next week.

To be a Pure is to be perfect, untouched by Detonations that scarred the earth, and sheltered inside the paradise that is the Dome. But Partridge escaped to the outside world, where Wretches struggle to survive amid smoke and ash. Now, at the command of Partridge’s father, the Dome is unleashing nightmare after nightmare upon the Wretches in an effort to get him back.

At Partridge’s side is a small band of those united against the Dome: Lyda, the warrior; Bradwell, the revolutionary; El Capitan, the guard; and Pressia, the young woman whose mysterious past ties her to Partridge in ways she never could have imagined. Long ago a plan was hatched that could mean the earth’s ultimate doom. Now only Partridge and Pressia can set things right.

To save millions of innocent lives, Partridge must risk his own by returning to the Dome and facing his most terrifying challenge. And Pressia, armed only with a mysterious Black Box containing a set of cryptic clues, must travel to the very ends of the earth, to a place where no map can guide her. If they succeed, the world will be saved. But should they fail, humankind will pay a terrible price . . .

Looking Back at January 2014

The first month of the year has been a decent success for me as far as blogging and reading are concerned. I needed to get eight books read to be on pace for the year and while I didn’t get a full eight finished, I did get seven, so I’m only one behind. I think that’s something I can easily focus on getting caught up on in February.

The blogging is going well too, yesterday made me a perfect 31 for 31 in January. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was tough on a couple of days though. I still haven’t managed to get ahead of schedule with the blog posts I’ve written, which means I’m still writing a lot of posts late in the evening to make sure I get them in before midnight each day. That isn’t a model I can sustain for too long though, so I’m going to need to find a way to get ahead soon or I’ll be in trouble with the “blogging every day” goal.

Here are the books I read in January 2014:

The first four books on the list are the entire Uglies series, which I thought was a very solid series on the whole. I’m surprised I hadn’t read them before this month, but I’m glad that I finally have. It’s a YA series that a lot of people should read if they want to see how that sort of fiction should be written more often.

Dark Triumph as the second book in a trilogy and I loved it just as much as I did the first book, Grave Mercy. The final piece of that trilogy arrives sometime later this year and I’m very excited to see how the story concludes.

Warbreaker was a re-read because I like to do that sort of thing from time to time, especially with Brandon Sanderson books. Promise of Blood was a book I’ve had on my Kindle for almost a year and because the second book, The Crimson Campaign, is being released in a few months I wanted to finally get it read so I wouldn’t be behind. It’s the first of a series that I think will be fascinating, but it’s going to take a little more for me to be entirely invested. The magic systems in Promise of Blood are complex and it takes a little bit of effort to really comprehend everything going on with them. I’m hoping that the second book will clear things up a little bit.

For February, I’m hoping to make some more progress on catching up with unfinished series, doing a review for one of the first advance copies I’ve ever been given, and re-read the first book of a series that has a second book coming out in March. I’ll try to get all of that done and sneak in one extra book to make up for January, but we’ll see how it goes in the end. I’ll see you at the end of the month with another update!

Book Review: “Extras” by Scott Westerfeld

ExtrasThe very first thing I noticed when starting Extras was that it clearly wasn’t in Scott Westerfeld’s original plan for the series. The first three books, Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, had been written as a cohesive trilogy with what I think is a stellar ending. I’m going to guess that the fans, the publisher, or some other entity decided to convince the author to add just one more book to the series because of its popularity.

Honestly, I don’t think the series needed a fourth book, the trilogy was sound. But, if a fourth book had to be written I feel like Westerfeld did a pretty decent job with it. Extras takes place about three years after the final pages of Specials. Society has gone through a significant overhaul after the actions of Tally and her compatriots from the first three books. Apparently, Tally engineered the release of something known as the “mind rain” which removed and/or prevented the brain lesions from ever happening again. As a result, technology has advanced rapidly, new cliques and groups have formed all over the place, and there is a new social structure in place where your personal popularity influences your living arrangement, resources, and basically everything else.

Aya Fuse is the main character in Extras, and her “face rank” is a dismal 451,359. She wants nothing more than to publish some amazing stories to her feed so her rank will rise and she can get out of the mass housing she’s been living in and make a name for herself. What she gets is an adventure beyond her wildest dreams.

Over the course of the book, Aya uncovers more and more about a mysterious group of beings who have been surgically altered beyond anything anyone has seen before. As she does so, her face rank skyrockets and she soon finds herself in the top 1,000, then as things really heat up she finds herself in second place. Behind only one person: Tally Youngblood. Want to harbor a guess as to who shows up right about the same time? Yep, you guess it, Tally Youngblood herself. I’ll admit, I was a little surprised to see her, but ultimately it made a lot of sense. Tally is accompanied by Fausto and Shay, with David showing up shortly thereafter. For the rest of the book Aya and her posse tag along with Tally while Tally tries to help them solve the mystery.

The end of Extras actually took me a little by surprise. I thought I had a pretty good handle on where things were going, but Westerfeld managed to throw me a decent curveball right before the end. I’m not going to say that the ending of Extras was as solid as the ending of Specials, but it was pretty close. There was more emotion involved with the originally ending, but a lot more hope involved with the new one.

The Uglies Series gets my full recommendation for anyone interested in YA fiction. The writing is crisp, the plot is well paced, and the characters are well-developed. I think I might need to give some of Scott Westerfeld’s other books a try at some point.

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