Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray:
That’s a lot of girls, a lot of questions and a lot of issues. So, although they come off as real people in their private moments, and although there was a clear effort to portray each one as an individual, most of them come off as caricatures in the group scenes. Part of the reason for that, of course, can be attributed to satire as a genre: It’s always hard to develop emotional ties with characters who act, in part, to provide commentary on larger cultural issues.
It’s a quiet love story that delivers an emotional kick in the gut. It’s unpredictable and unusual, true and real. The Big Crunch acknowledges the ephemeral nature of first love, but celebrates the depth of feeling that accompanies it. It’s introspective without navel-gazing, and it’s tightly written, sharply detailed, with a crisp, clear focus. It’s painful without being angsty, and hopeful without being saccharine or ever sacrificing realism.
A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, by Patrick Ness:
Every line of Patrick Ness' beautiful, deceptively simple prose Tells The Truth. The truth about the isolation of grief, about the anger that comes out of loss, the truth about guilt, and about how knowledge and logic have absolutely nothing to do with emotion.
See the others at the LA Times.