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!


Up Next: “The Eye of Minds” by James Dashner

The Eye of MindsI’ve been waiting a decent amount of time for a new book by James Dashner. I picked up The Maze Runner several years ago and absolutely loved his ability to tell a story and drive suspense through the roof. When that trilogy was finished I was eager for some new material of his to read, and now I finally have that chance.

The Eye of Minds is the first book in a new series by James Dashner known as The Mortality Doctrine. It’s a little on the short side, clocking in at about 320 pages or so, which means it’s not going to take me a very long time to finish. However, what interests me the most is how it centers around a character who considers himself a gamer, and consequently the story revolves a great deal around gaming, technology, and other things of that nature. I’m reminded a little bit of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One when I read the cover description for this book, and that’s a good thing because Ready Player One is one of the best books in this vein I’ve ever had the chance to read. It was a fresh entry into young adult science fiction and I’m hoping this book can be the same sort of thing.

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Book Review: “The Kill Order” by James Dashner

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease. Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

The Maze Runner was the first book I read on my Kindle when I bought it. I had heard great things about it and James Dashner had recently served as a guest professor for my creative writing class I was in taught by Brandon Sanderson at BYU. I was sufficiently impressed with Dashner as a person, which led me to reading The Maze Runner, and subsequently the other two books in the trilogy (The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure) as they were released. In my opinion these books are better than most of the others in the post-apocalyptic YA genre at the moment.

I thought the trilogy was all done and Dashner was moving on to other projects. Imagine my surprise when a few months ago Amazon all of the sudden sends me an email recommending The Kill Order as a book I might like. I pre-ordered it immediately, I didn’t think twice. Dashner has earned his place as a “no questions asked” author for me. The Kill Order is the prequel to the original Maze Runner trilogy and tells the story of how the world fell apart to begin with and how various events lead up to the opening scene of The Maze Runner itself. As a matter of fact, the book even opens with a scene that could quite easily be a deleted scene from The Maze Runner which was pretty awesome.

The first thing that anyone needs to know about The Kill Order is that it is definitely a prequel and it is a very different type of book in comparison to the original trilogy. The main character is not a teenage boy, there is a lot more military-esque action, and the characters are not confined to specific test parameters, all of which is very, very different from the original three books. That isn’t to say the writing isn’t just as good because it certainly is, Dashner is just as good in The Kill Order as he was in the others. If anything, the story is much more tragic (if that’s possible) than the other books. The world has been devastated by massive sun flares, and just about everyone is dead. The controlling group that rose from the ashes has determined that half of the remaining population must be extinguished to allow the other half to survive on the available resources, and a virus has been unleashed as the most humane way to achieve that goal.

Of course, none of that goes according to plan, and in true Dashner form, horrific things happen as a result.

By the time I was finished I felt like I knew a lot more about the outside world I had been wondering so much about while reading the original three books. At the same time, I felt like I really missed the self-contained world that existed in those books because the world in The Kill Order is much more wide-ranging and open-ended in comparison. It was a definite shift and my pre-conceived notions of what The Kill Order would be had to be thrown out the window before I made it past the first 20 pages. It came across as both fresh and a little strange at the same time for me.

The ultimate fate of the characters, Mark and Trina specifically, was not what I was expecting as I got closer to the final pages. The ending was perfect for what Dashner was doing and fit very much in line with how he ended the previous books, but until I finished the last page I wasn’t entirely convinced.

More books set in this world would be pretty exciting to read, especially if they were follow-ups to the first books, but I also think I would be satisfied if things were left exactly as they are now. The Kill Order reminded me once again how much I enjoy James Dashner’s style and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next whether it be in this particular universe or something entirely new.

Grade: B
Length: 338 pages

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Goodreads   |   Audible   |   Author Site

Up Next: “The Kill Order” by James Dashner

I really like the Maze Runner books and have often wondered if Dashner would ever add another piece to the story at some point. So, you can imagine my surprise when some casual browsing on Amazon a few months back revealed that The Kill Order was on its way as a prequel to the original trilogy of books. I was thrilled!

The back story of how all the main characters wound up where they were in the original trilogy is left quite vague for the most part, but it was done in a way that really had me itching to know more. I’m glad I now have the chance to learn a little bit more about how WICKED came to be and what Thomas and Theresa were really up to before they were in the Glade.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease. Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next.

Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees. Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’d Like to See Made Into a Movie/Television Series

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish every Tuesday. Be warned, my entries don’t always follow the prescribed topical schedule of everyone else who participates in the meme because I pick the ones that interest me the most.

This week, I’m taking on a topic that I feel very passionate about. I love reading books, but I also love watching movies and television shows, especially ones based on books that I love. I tend to find a lot less fault with movies based on books than most people because for me it’s more of an exercise in comparing what the movie/television director interprets characters looking like, acting like, etc with what I have built them up to be in my head.

I find it quite fascinating to be honest.

So, enjoy my list of ten books/book series that I think would make great movies or television shows if they were ever given a fighting chance to be converted to such.

Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
This is one of those epic fantasy series that would benefit so greatly from a treatment similar to the one A Song of Ice and Fire got with HBO.

Each book could be an entire 10-12 episode season and all of the character development and plot twists could remain intact. There is so much going on with these books, not to mention that there are a stunning 15 of them by the time the final one releases this coming January that anything short of some kind of television show or miniseries would be unable to do it justice. If producers were too daunted by the idea of trying to produce a season for all 15 books, they could settle down and do a three season run, one for each of the first three books, which to be honest is a sort of self-contained trilogy in its own right. That would be alright with me.

Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant
I just finished reading these books this past week and I can’t say enough good things about them. In my opinion these books far surpass The Hunger Games books in both excitement and quality and should have been the books that got the new “big movie trilogy” treatment. The subject matter would fit perfectly in a trilogy of movies and the source material is packed full of rich writing and dialogue that if proper casting took place, could elevate movies based on this trilogy to some pretty impressive heights.

Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
I love Brandon Sanderson and his work, that is no secret, but the real reason I want to see the Mistborn books turned into movies is because the action scenes would be mind-blowing. I don’t know of a movie that has anything even close to the kind of stunt-work that these books would require, but I do know that the amazing things that can be done with special effects in today’s world would have the perfect vehicle to display their most outrageous ideas.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Thankfully, the Hollywood gods managed to keep a movie from being made out of Ender’s Game until next year. I say thankfully because without the special effects powers available today this movie never would have been able to be done properly. I just re-read Ender’s Game a few weeks ago and it reminded me all over again how awesome a movie based on the book would be. I can’t wait until next November!

Shannara by Terry Brooks
Much like Wheel of Time, the Shannara series is vast and ever-expanding. A production company would never be able to tell this story in a satisfying manner as a movie (or series of movies). These books would need to be translated to the small-screen in some fashion. I think a mini-series would be best for Shannara because each grouping of books in the series takes place over a fairly finite amount of time, so needing a full television season to tell the story of one book would probably be overkill.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A movie based on Cinder would be a blockbuster hit across the board if you ask me. You would definitely grab the young adult audience with this amazing retelling of the Cinderella story and I’m sure the follow-up books (which seem like they are taking forever to arrive) would work perfectly as follow-up movies as well.

This book is one that I felt very, very sad about not having a movie version to watch when I was finished. Marissa Meyer has created an incredibly world for her story to take place in and it would translate to the big screen fantastically.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi
All I can say is that this would be one of the best science fiction comedy movies ever created. Furthermore, this movie cannot be made without the participation of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the cast because otherwise, well, it would just not be as awesome as it could be.

The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner
If The Hunger Games with its penchant for pitting teenagers against each other in a deathmatch can receive the kind of following it has after being turned into a movie trilogy, then my opinion is that The Maze Runner books would surpass it by at least twice the popularity. Not nearly as many people have read these books, but they are missing out because as gritty as The Hunger Games is at times, it has absolutely nothing on the tests put in front of the characters in The Maze Runner. The movie versions of these books would be beyond epic.

Heir to the Empire Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
I picked this trilogy because I’ve always told myself that if a new trilogy of Star Wars movies were to be made that took place after the original trilogy, it would be a terrible shame if it were not based on these books. These books show Han and Leia recently married with small children, Luke finding his future wife, Grand Admiral Thrawn (who would rival Darth Vader as best Star Wars villain), and so much more. It will never happen, but a young Star Wars fan can dream, right?

Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole
I’ve never watched an awesome movie about fighter pilots in space. THIS would be that movie. I can only dream of the casting that could take place if George Lucas allowed a Rogue Squadron live-action film to be made. It makes me giggle with excitement just thinking about it.