This week is all about those books you have to work for, the ones that don’t pull you in as soon as you read that first line – but do eventually pull you in, nonetheless. I’m sure that there are some books that could have ended up on this list if I didn’t DNF them, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes – some books are worth sticking around for and sometimes you just need to move on. We’re looking at the good, obviously!
This was my first Marchetta book, and though I’ve since learned that most of her books seem to start off slow and can be a little confusing, I didn’t know that when I started this one. Since this is my favorite Marchetta title, though, you can tell that I got over that initial confusion and slowness, but it definitely took a little time to love this book.
Really, I think I could put every Marchetta book on this list – I’ve never started one of her books and been like THIS IS AMAZING. They all grow on me (well, most of them – I did end up DNFing her fantasy trilogy – just wasn’t working for me). This standalone was tough to get into because there’s a lot being thrown at you, including a history of characters in a past timeline, and I suspect that things might have been easier if I was Australian – the school system of the boarding school the main characters attend confused me a tad. This book didn’t take the crown from the aforementioned Saving Francesca (and I had trouble getting into and then liked its companion, The Piper’s Son, as well), but I did end up liking it, and I want to see how it goes reading it a second time, understanding things already.
This book was also a little confusing at the beginning, but it worked for the book, since the protagonist has schizophrenia and doesn’t always know what’s real – it’s only fitting that we should feel that confusion as well. This book works really well for this list, though, because not only did it get better as I read more, but I really liked it when I reread it – I think this is a book that will only get better with time for me.
To be fair, part of the reason I had trouble getting into this book was because I was reading at least one or two other books at all times when reading this one and I had mini-slumps during it. I think the book was just a little slow to start though – after the traumatic happenings of the second book, the main characters needed to heal and get to a better place before the mystery really ramped up for this finale.
I read this book a while back at this point (MUST REREAD! It’s on the large list, trust me), but I don’t think I started off the book thinking to myself “this is my favorite Kenneally title” (although, to be fair, this was only the second Kenneally book I had read at the time). The book starts off with a protagonist whose live isn’t going great and who gets into an ill-advised teacher (well, coach)-student relationship (of course, ALL of these relationships are ill-advised), so I don’t think I started things off super happy, but things got better and this remains my favorite book from Kenneally, out of the four (well, four and a tenth or so before unrelated life stuff made me DNF her fifth book) I’ve read.
Seriously, throw me into a new bookish world with a lot of characters, customs, and places to keep track of and it’s going to make it hard for me to really get into a book initially. Yep, that’s why I had a bit of trouble enjoying Eyes Like Stars at first – it was enchanting, but I was also a bit confused with so many characters and magic to keep track of. I need to reread the books and see how I like them a second time around.
Protagonist Etta has a very strong personality, and it can take a little getting used to it, as well as the book, since this is a first-person POV narration. I had to adjust to it a bit before I could really begin to enjoy the book for what it is, which is a great example of diversity – we have a black, bisexual, plus-sized dancer protagonist who struggles with eating disorders, biphobic lesbians who kicked Etta out of their group for being bi and “lying” to them, queer friends, and a support group of girls with all kinds of bodies and eating disorders. I really need to reread this, especially now that I know what to expect from Etta’s narration.
I didn’t dislike this book at the beginning, but it was only once the central romance really started to heat up that I really liked it. I just really appreciated that the protagonist had had boyfriends in the past, had friends who were more sexually advanced, and she only really discovered her interest in sex and deeper romance when she met the right person. She’s never stated to be anything other than straight, but in my head, she has demisexual tendencies, if not is out-right demisexual, where she has to get to know a person before she’s truly interested in them.
I enjoyed this trilogy enough the first time around to buy the books, but when I recently reread it earlier this year, I think I enjoyed it more, which is why it’s getting an asterisk. I knew what to expect from the books, specifically a focus more on characters than world-building, so I was able to appreciate what it gave me. I’m definitely ready for the new books announced earlier this year.
Same with this series – for some reason, I always worry that I think I like these books more than I actually do. When I reread the first book last year before reading the second one, I was so worried that I wouldn’t like it as much and that I had bought the gorgeous book just for it to be a pretty decoration on my bookshelves and never read again, but I did enjoy it the second time around. And, as I reread this trilogy on my journey to reading the third and final book, I think I like it even more – another case of my love for this series only growing with rereads.