Looking back at the books I read this year, I realized that there are a few books I really loved but never got around to writing about. I can’t let the year end without giving them some love, so I give you mini reviews of four 2014 favorites!
The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling
Mulholland Books | Jun. 24, 2014
Private detective Cormoran Strike is back with a new mystery. In the second installation of the series, Cormoran sets out to solve the grisly murder of an author named Owen Quine, whose body is found in a truly bizarre setting. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t want Quine’s book to be published — but who wanted it badly enough to kill him?
I thought this story got a little bit convoluted, but I still loved it nearly as much as The Cuckoo’s Calling. It’s a great, creepy mystery, and it was so much fun to see Cormoran and his ambitious assistant Robin develop as characters.
The Fever by Megan Abbott
Little, Brown | Jun. 17, 2014
One day, Deenie’s best friend collapses and has a seizure during class. Her mysterious illness sparks a wave of strange symptoms among her female classmates. As the teenage girls drop like flies, confusion and hysteria pervade the town as parents search for answers; is the illness caused by something environmental, by the HPV vaccines the girls were required to receive, or by something else entirely? At the center of the mystery are Deenie, her chick magnet brother Eli, and her father Tom, a teacher at the high school.
No one can write teen girls like Megan Abbott does. She is a master at conveying their complicated relationships, burgeoning sexuality, and need to fit in. The Fever is a gripping, unique novel about the stresses young women feel and the way society silences them.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Knopf | Aug. 12, 2014
In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belonged to a group of five best friends, each of whom had a name with a color in it. However, Tsukuru’s name is colorless, and he feels his personality lacks color, too. When his friends suddenly and inexplicably cut off contact with Tsukuru during college, he nearly loses the will to live but doesn’t press the matter. Decades later, a new girlfriend suggests that he find closure by seeking out his old friends to solve the mystery of why he lost them.
This book is everything I love about Murakami (the banal and the exquisite sitting side by side, the strange dream sequences and mysterious women, the quiet tone, and the narrator who isn’t nearly as boring as he thinks he is) and a few of the things I could live without (the weird sex scenes, mainly). It would make an excellent entry point for readers who haven’t read Murakami before; it gives readers a good idea of his themes and writing style without the pure what-the-fuck-ery of his more surreal books.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Random House | Sep. 2, 2014
In 1985, 15-year-old Holly Sykes runs away from home after a fight with her parents. While on the road, Holly, who has a history of psychic perception, witnesses a deadly battle that she can’t understand — and that is soon erased from her memory. That same night, her little brother vanishes. This unsolved mystery echoes through the decades and has great ramifications in the war between two opposing factions of immortal souls.
As those who have read Cloud Atlas might expect, this book has a unique structure. The Bone Clocks is broken into five sections, and only the first and last are written from Holly’s perspective. The three middle sections span decades and follow a Cambridge scholarship boy pursuing a life of wealth and power, a war reporter who feels conflicted about often being away from his wife and young daughter, and an aging writer who is slipping down the best-seller charts. Each of these vividly imagined characters has a connection to Holly and the mystical war that is happening in secret.
This is just such an incredible book. It’s funny, profound, and more ambitious than I can even comprehend.