Anyway, it’s Tuesday and that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic was supposed be Reasons Why I Love Reading, but I’ve already done a post like that a few years ago when TTT was still with The Broke and The Bookish, so I decided to change up the topic this week. I’ve picked an old one from the archived topics from TB&TB, I’ll be sharing my Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Ever Read. I don’t feel like it’s possible for any book to ever be completely unique, I feel like you’d be able to find underlying similarities to other stories in all books, but I do think you can take something that’s been done before and give it an original twist, or twist old tropes into a new story etc. So these books will be more of that ilk, not necessarily ones that I think “there’s absolutely nothing out there like this”, more “This author came up with a really interesting concept” or “This author twisted something familiar into something new”. Here we go:
- Unwind-Neal Shusterman
I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Unwind. I mean it’s a truly horrifying and disturbing concept, the idea of this is that after a war fought over reproductive rights, the solution that the US comes to is that abortion is outlawed, but parents/guardians have the choice to have their children “unwound” from the age of 13 to 18, where they are literally taken apart piece by piece and their organs are donated, so their life doesn’t technically end.
I know, I know, it sounds super dark and weird, but it’s a really great book. It explores a lot of interesting issues, like what it means to be alive, issues around organ donation, who has the right to decide whether a person lives or dies, what consciousness is etc. It’s probably one of the most thoughtful dystopian books I’ve read, as well as being a really action packed, fun read with great characters. Not for the faint of heart, but if you like darker books, definitely recommend!
2. Girl, Serpent, Thorn-Melissa Bashardoust
Mythology, fairytale based stories certainly aren’t anything new, but I thought Melissa Bashardoust did something really cool and creative in her second book. I’ve not seen many books with Persian mythology influences before, so that immediately made the book feel quite fresh to me and she drew a lot from other fairytales (for instance Sleeping Beauty) but the way she mixed them together was very creative.
3. Pure-Julianna Baggott
Pure was one of those books that came out after the big dystopian buzz so it doesn’t seem to be one that gets talked about much (or else I read it after all the buzz died down!). This is a shame, because I think it’s a really creative post-apocalyptic book. It’s set after a nuclear apocalypse where survivors are left fused to objects that they were holding at the time of the Detonations. However there are some survivors who escaped the apocalypse unscathed, and live in a secure bubble called the Dome. It’s a very interesting concept and world, and though it was a little confusing at first, I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.
4. Not Even Bones-Rebecca Schaeffer
This is a super dark book, but it’s incredibly enjoyable. It’s about a girl who dissects the bodies of supernatural creatures so her mother can sell their parts on the black market, but when she tries to save one of her mother’s victims, she ends up being sold in his place-because she is also supernatural. It definitely felt like a quite original idea, I can’t think of many other books I’ve read like it and I loved how DARK it was. A lot of books claim to be dark and then feel kind of tame, this really leaned into the darkness. I liked the mix of the modern world with the supernatural too.
5. The Diviners-Libba Bray
The separate parts of the Diviners on their own, could be any number of books. Historical setting, teens with supernatural powers related to a science experiment, ghosts, murder mystery etc, all quite common to find in YA books. However, I don’t think any book I’ve read mixes them all together in the way The Diviners does. Is it confusing at first? Yes. There are a lot of characters and plot threads to keep track of. However, the further through the series you get, the more brilliant Bray’s hodge-podge of genres and ideas becomes and by the end I truly felt like it was one of the most creative fantasies I’ve ever read. Plus, the sprawling group cast became one of my favourites!
6. The Bone Season-Samantha Shannon
I will admit that the first book in Samantha Shannon’s series is not my favourite, I like other books in the series better, but I’ve never read anything like the world Samantha Shannon has created in this series. She describes it as a kind of epic dystopia and it’s true, it blends a lot of fantastical elements into a dystopian world. Honestly it’s kind of difficult to explain because there are a lot of different parts to the story, but basically the UK is run by this authoritarian regime called Scion (who also control other countries across Europe) and they monitor the population for people with extraordinary powers, called clairvoyants. Paige, a rare clairvoyant called a Dreamwalker, gets captured and sent to a penal colony run by otherworldly creatures called Rephaim and the plot unravels from there. It was really confusing to start with, I’m not going to lie and there are a lot of moving elements, but I definitely fell in love with the series the more I read of it and it really isn’t like anything else I’ve ever read.
7. The Shadow Game Trilogy-Amanda Foody
Whilst there are a lot of familiar tropes in Foody’s series, her world definitely set this book apart from others for me. It’s like a 1900s Atlantic City inspired world (I said Vegas in my initial review, I’ve since learned that this was wrong!), there are casinos and gangs and old motorcars and the setting is very much another character in the book. The magic system is also really cool, each character has two abilities, a blood talent which is the stronger, main ability and a split talent which is a slightly weaker ability and it allowed for such a brilliantly wide range of magic which I loved because so many fantasy worlds stick to maybe one or two kinds of magic and there’s no such restriction in Foody’s world. I also really love how Foody treats her female characters, she shows off a lot of different kinds of women in her books, including praising and highlighting extremely feminine women which I love and make her books feel very fresh to me.
8. The Accident Season-Moira Fowley-Doyle
I’ll admit upfront that I didn’t really like this one. However the premise is definitely unique, it follows a family that becomes suddenly extremely accident prone every October, often resulting in deaths. So that was cool, and I enjoyed the main mystery plot but there was a lot that confused me about this book and it never really fulfilled the promise of the concept.
9. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab
I could have used any number of VE Schwab’s books on here because I always feel like she’s so creative and inventive with her ideas, but I thought The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was probably the one that fit best. Addie is kind of a difficult book to place, it’s fantastical, historical, contemporary, kind of a bit of everything all mixed up into one so that alone makes it a fairly unique book. Then you have the twist in Addie’s bargain whereby she’s able to live forever (fairly typical) but ends up forgotten by everyone she meets (less so) and the sheer scope of this book covering around 300 years of history. I’ve read other books that cross genres before, but never something quite as defiantly undefinable as Addie LaRue.
10. By A Charm And A Curse-Jaime Questell
On the surface this book has a lot of familiar tropes: circus setting, kisses and curses being connected etc. But the way the author used those familiar tropes felt very unique: the kiss in this case is actually the cause of the curse not the solution and this curse ensures that the members of the circus stay young and never get hurt (so is actually a good thing for them), and so that’s where the conflict comes in as main character Emma wants to break the curse which is inflicted on her but in doing so dooms everyone in the circus. It’s a really cool little story, kind of like Pinocchio (the curse basically turns you into a puppet in human form) mixed with Snow White. It’s a real shame that Jaime Questell hasn’t published any books since this one because I really loved it, I hope she does at some point because I’d love to see what she does next.
So there we go, those are some of the most unique books I’ve ever read. How about you, what are the most unique books you have ever read (or rather, books that you think have a unique take on familiar tropes)? Have you read any of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments!
I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, next week’s topic is meant to be Book Titles That Are Questions but honestly I don’t think I’ve read any? So I’m going to change twist the topic and do a different title related topic: Unnecessary Book Title Abbreviations Used On Book Twitter ie all the short titles that get abbreviated that really don’t need to be!