THE FIVE: Rob's Top Books of 2008
For my Fave Books of 2008, I tried to choose only books published this year but failed, so I am including some books that will actually be released next year. You may also notice that every book in my top five is from a series. I've always preferred series because I read really quickly and end up wishing that novels were longer. With a series, I get to enjoy the characters for many more hours. And now, without further ado, here are my favorite new books!
5. Lifeblood (Darkside series, Book 2) by Tom Becker (Ages 12 and up)
Coming in at number five on the list, I thoroughly enjoyed Lifeblood (to be published in 2009). The story is very dark, with vampires and werewolves and plenty of mystery. The second book is about Jonathan trying to solve several gruesome murders that happened around the time his mother disappeared. I loved the twists and turns that the story takes as Jonathan travels through Darkside, the underworld of London. If you love monsters, dark mysteries, and gory scenes, this is the book for you.
4. Deeper (Tunnels series, Book 2) by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
Deeper will actually be released in February of 2009, but since Tunnels was published last year and I really enjoyed the second book, I'm including Deeper in my picks for 2008. If you haven't had a chance to read about Will and Chester's adventures in Tunnels, I highly recommend spending the time to read the first book before the second comes out. This is another series taking place underneath London. Will Burrows loves nothing more than tunneling under the ground, which leads to one of the most interesting journeys I've read. By the second book, he is in deep trouble within the tunnels and things are looking pretty bleak. There may not be vampires and werewolves, but the inhabitants of the tunnels are fearsome in their own way. This is a gripping series, and I can't wait for the third book.
3. Treasure Hunters (Bone series, Book 8) by Jeff Smith
Treasure Hunters is the second to last book in the Bone series. I think Bartleby is one of the cutest characters since Puss in Boots in Shrek, and Jeff Smith is an incredibly talented illustrator. His drawings really make this graphic novel series, although I love the story as well. The Bone cousins have been trying to get back to Boneville since the beginning of the series, when they are run out of Boneville and lost in an endless desert. By Book 8, the Bone cousins are deeply enmeshed in the war that is raging throughout the land, and of course greedy Phoney Bone is making life interesting with his money-grubbing schemes.
2. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games series, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins (Ages 12 and up)
The Hunger Games is amazing, no other way to put it. With the story taking place from Katniss' point of view, her strong character and personal struggles are riveting. The story really reminded me of one of my favorite Adult Fiction books, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, although I think Suzanne Collins has built a world with many more possibilities. I'm really excited about the second book in the series and, like many others talking about the book, I have my own theories about what will happen next. Katniss is amazingly complex, and as she makes decisions that you and I should be glad we aren't facing, I found myself completely absorbed in the depth of her emotions and the inner turmoil that she deals with. Definitely one of the best books written this year!
1. The Battle for Skandia (Ranger's Apprentice series, Book 4) by John Flanagan
Ranger's Apprentice may be my favorite series, but The Battle for Skandia is my favorite book in the series (don't read them out of order; you'll just have to read the first three to get to this story). My favorite part of the series is the description of Will's determination and his drive to be the best at what he is doing. As impressive as Will is during the first three books, he shows amazing growth in Skandia. I also enjoyed the glimpses of Ranger Halt's personality and history that Will sees throughout the story. The book kept me on the edge of my seat, even after my third time reading it, and is one of my all-time favorites.
There were a lot of great books that came out this year, and hopefully you've had a chance to decide on your top five. Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think about them? I'm always looking for a new book to read, so let me know your top five books from 2008!
— Rob, STACKS Staffer