Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!
If you’re on the reading side of TikTok, Instagram, or even Pinterest, there are likely a few books that you just can’t stop being recommended. Those ones where it seems like everybody’s read them, and for some reason they all decided to make videos recommending them to you.
Well, recently I sat down and made a list of the most popular ones. And then I read them. Was it a mistake? Maybe.
In any case, here I am reviewing them from a Christian perspective with content warnings so you can decide for yourself whether you want to try them or not.
A quick warning before we begin: While I try to keep my book reviews on this blog spoiler-free, a few of the books in this post will have to have spoilers for the sake of content warnings. They will generally be broad, but if you want to be surprised, this is your last chance to click away.
At the end of each review, as well, I will be giving my opinion on whether you should read the book. This is only my opinion, based on what I personally feel comfortable reading. You might not be okay with reading a book with certain content, and that’s all right. Don’t feel like you have to read something just because I thought it was okay.
Are you ready? Then let’s jump in!
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
This book has quite an extensive list, including but not limited to detailed discussions of rape, drugs, self-harm, and suicide. Racism is prevalent. At least one side character is a drug dealer. One side character is a lesbian. Underage drinking. Fairly strong language, but it’s not common.
should I read it?
Yes–if you’re not easily grossed out. The plot was engaging and drew me through the book–I could barely put it down. It was full of unexpected twists and turns that kept me on my toes, and I loved the characters. If you’re a fan of thrillers and mysteries, check this one out.
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why — or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.
To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch — and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
A side character is in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Gun violence, murder, and attempted murder. A small amount of mild language, including the use of similar-sounding words. One side character who openly identifies as bisexual, and one side character who is sapphic. Alcohol use.
should I read it?
I read this book in one sitting. (Actually, that’s not true–I got up in the middle of it to eat some jelly beans.) The story was engaging and full of twists and turns that kept me on my toes. However, the writing was less than stellar. Given both of these factors, I would say a tentative yes, you should read it. (If you do, note that it is the first in a trilogy. I made that mistake and didn’t check out the other two from the library–and then suffered dearly for it.)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Sáenz
Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.
But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.
Alcohol use. A car accident resulting in broken bones. The main characters end up in a gay relationship, and homophobia and AIDS are frequently discussed. A side character has PTSD. A side character committed a transphobic hate crime in the past.
should I read it?
I personally loved this book. It was highly philosophical, with lots of deep thoughts about life and the world. The main characters’ friendship was so real and raw. I would say that yes, you should read this book, but only if you’re all right with discussions of gay issues.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Arson, disassociation, grief, and racism. Alcohol use and abuse. The main character has implied sexual intercourse.
should I read it?
This book is…poetic, but almost in a bad way. The writing style could be kind of info dump-y and pretentious, and sometimes it was hard to know what was going on. There was a great deal of entitlement. I liked it well enough, but I would say that if contemporary isn’t already your thing, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it.
These books aren’t for everyone, that’s for sure. But for you guys I will suffer through them. I may do another one of these in the future–I’ve got a whole list to work through. In the meantime, let me know–what do you think? Have you read any of these? Have I changed your mind about reading any of them now?
Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!