Best Books of 2009 (according to Sara)

This week here at Novel Novice Twilight, some of the staffers are featuring our five favorite books of 2009. Here are the books that came out in ’09 that are ranked in my personal top 5:

1. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

This book has easily become my new book obsession. The story, the characters, the setting … it all just draws you in, and as the book progresses you find yourself more and more caught up in this entire world created by Garcia and Stohl. The only other book that has ever made the South seem so vivid to me has been John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It was after reading Berendt’s book that made me first want to visit Savannah, Georgia. After reading Beautiful Creatures, I have another literary excuse to visit the Peach State.

Beautiful Creatures also draws you in with the folklore and Voodoo of the South, the believable supernatural element of the story (I can clearly picture the way Lena’s hair curls when she’s unleashing her magic), and the aching love story between Lena and Ethan. Ethan, too, is a delightful and refreshing narrator. It’s sometimes hard to remember that his narration is actually written by two women, because his thoughts and approach to life are believable as those of a teenage boy. I was entirely satisfied by Beautiful Creatures, and yet I find myself counting down the months until December 2010, when I can finally get my hands on Book 2 (there are 5 books planned, in all). Garcia and Stohl have created a complete package here, and this book is a 100% victory.

2. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I read this book in two days. Literally: two days. That’s because it immediately sucked me in, and I could barely manage to force myself to put it down for the sake of sleeping and going to work. But as soon as those annoyingly necessary tasks had been completed — I went back to devouring Hush, Hush — the tale of forbidden love between a human girl and a fallen angel, who is also fighting the urge to kill her so he can become human. Patch is the ultimate bad boy gone good, and it’s thrilling to watch as he fights his darker tendencies while falling in love with Nora. This is another case where I just can’t wait for the sequel, Crescendo (due out in Fall 2010).

3. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

The final installment of Clare’s The Mortal Instruments trilogy was a breathtaking journey, and filled with practically nonstop action. I admit, I started her series late — City of Glass was already published when I started reading the first book. Of course, that gave me the advantage of not having to wait to find out how everything ended. In this series, Clare has created a rich and imaginative world where the supernatural and everyday coexist and mingle unknowingly everyday. Like most fans of this series, I was thrilled when I learned that Clare was actually planning a fourth book for the series — in addition to a trilogy of prequels, the first of which comes out later this year. (The Clockwork Angel is due out August 31st.)

4. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

This book caught my eye while browsing the new releases table at my local bookstore, and I’m so glad I picked it up. The Magicians is sort of a real-life, adult twist on Harry Potter. The school where these magicians go is no Hogwarts, and their teachers are nothing like Professors Dumbledore or McGonagall. Likewise, their problems have less to do with an evil wizard whose-name-must-not-be-spoken, and more to do with the real-life quandary most of us face: what the heck do we do with our lives now that we’re out of college?

It’s an intriguing and enveloping dilemma to ponder from this perspective. Here you have a group of brilliant, talented young magicians, and yet they can’t figure out what to do with themselves after magic school is over. They move to an apartment. They drink. They ruin their relationships. The main character is still stuck fantasizing about the fantasy adventure books he read as a child (a loose imitation of The Chronicles of Narnia). Though written for adults, and containing some adult scenes, this book is a wonderful combination of the fantastic and the mundane.

5. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

The quickly rising popularity of Shiver has many in the industry saying “Move over vampires, here come werewolves” — and with good reason. Though I still harbor a deep love for Bella and Edward, the romance between Grace and Sam takes the meaning of forbidden love to a whole new level. Stiefvater has captivated a new audience of readers with Shiver, and for good reason. We can’t wait to see where she takes our heroes next in Linger, due out this summer.

And because I can’t pick just five …

6. Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation

You know him as “The Twilight Guy.” But after reading Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse, you’ll know Kaleb Nation simply as the author of Bran Hambric. Though written for younger Young Adult readers, the first Bran Hambric book has all the makings of a mega-successful franchise. Along the lines of Harry Potter and The Mysterious Benedict Society, Nation has woven a funny, charming and whimsical story about a young orphan who comes into his own upon learning about his true nature (he’s a mage) and his true past (his mother was a magical criminal). Nation first began writing this book when he was 14, and finally saw it published just as he turned 21. Talk about an amazing feat! He’s currently working on book 2 in the series, with several more planned.

Of course, a lot of books came out in ’09 and I didn’t get a chance to read nearly as many as I had hoped to … here are some of the books of ’09 on my bookshelf that I’m most excited to read:

1. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

You’ve probably already heard of Westerfeld’s best-selling Uglies series and The Midnighters Trilogy. In Fall 2009, Westerfeld released the first book in his new trilogy: Leviathan, a Young Adult novel that puts a sci-fi twist on World War II, with some awesome Steampunk illustrations. This is on the top of my “books to read next” pile.

2. Under the Dome by Stephen King

King’s books really aren’t for kids — but I’ve been a fan of his work since I first started reading his books in high school. And the buzz about Under the Dome was enough to catch my eye … that is, critics and fans alike have called it a return to some of King’s earliest and most lauded work; they’ve compared it to The Stand, one of my favorite books of all time (and one of King’s most epic novels). I can’t wait to pick up Under the Dome, but I’ve been putting it off for one main reason: it’s massive. I mean, really massive. In typical King fashion, this book is like a brick. And I want to savor Under the Dome. So I’m waiting for the hectic-ness of my life to calm down. I’m waiting until I have some time to set aside, so I can really sit down and savor this one.

3. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I bought Brown’s new novel the day it came out — but alas, I’ve been distracted by other novels. I know it will be a fast read, and I can’t wait to follow Robert Langdon on another adventure. (He’s the hero of Brown’s Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code). This is also high-up in my “books to read next” pile.

4. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I’m a huge fan of Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (the movie was good; the book was a million times better) and I’ve simply been waiting to read Her Fearful Symmetry so that I can have time to savor it. I know it will be awesome.

What were your favorite books that came out in 2009? Tell us about them in the comments!

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3 Responses

  1. “The Lost Symbol” is so horribly bad — the ending is the worst let-down I’ve ever had in a book, and “Her Fearful Symmetry” is just bizarre, and not in a good way. But I’ll have to check out some of your recommendations.

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