The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
There are few sure bets in young adult fiction—this is the genre where I learned that book series can be cancelled, holy crow—but when the hugely successful The Hunger Games and Divergent series have it as a common setting, that’s as close as you can get. (Incidentally, these are both series too lazy to have a series title, which bugs me.) But I’ve noticed that young adult dystopias tend to be a little lighter on the worldbuilding. Since the focus is on the story and the characters, the dystopia can be drawn in broader strokes, leading to Divergent’s factions, which can be endlessly picked apart.
Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht
At the very beginning of the year, Aidan Moher (whose blog I heartily recommend) posted his “Favourite Novels of 2011”—the top dog was Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey, which I had never heard of. Being in Ireland when I read the post and having just completed a semester bursting with Irish history and literature, the premise seemed right up my alley, so I added it to my list. When it was briefly offered for free from Amazon (it’s a book-buying ban, not a book-reading ban!), I snatched it up and even let the professor who took us to Ireland know. I was pretty excited.
Grey by Jon Armstrong
I am a sucker for free things. Usually, I’m a pretty conscientious consumer, but if something’s free, an infantile hoarding urge takes over me–what if, someday, I’m going to need it? When Anastasia reviewed Grey over at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog, I hesitated. It sounded interesting, but women often get the short end of the stick in dystopian fiction. A few moments later, I opened up the free .pdf to find a glowing blurb from Michael Chabon on the cover and realized that I was going to give a shot.
The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
I only know the detective genre through parodies of it on Whose Line Is It Anyway and in Calvin and Hobbes–while it sounds like campy good fun, I’ve just never read it (unless you count The Yiddish Policemen’s Union as such). When I saw a review of Burn Me Deadly, The Sword-Edged Blonde’s sequel in Publishers Weekly, the conceit of marrying high fantasy with a hard-boiled detective just charmed me so much that I immediately added The Sword-Edged Blonde to the old reading list.