She's got the books that kill.

Surprise!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is Books That Surprised Me in some way. It could be good or bad. There will probably be some of both in this list.

Let's start with the disappointments:

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud - This book was fine right up until the end when the 9/11 attacks happened. I wasn't prepared for a 9/11 book. I wouldn't have read it if I'd known. I was most seriously displeased.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - My friends told me I had to read it. I would love it soooo much. I didn't. I hated it. It felt sentimental and overly emotional. I felt manipulated by the writing which I didn't think was that great.

Hawke's Harbor by S.E. Hinton - It's by S.E. Hinton. What could go wrong? Well, vampires can go wrong. Like I'm reading along and suddenly the main character turns into a vampire. Right at the end, too! What the actual? It was very weird.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler - This is one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book. Way better. This book was weird. There is this dream sequence in the middle that just left me cold.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd - After The Secret Life of Bees I just expected more. There wasn't much story to this book. It is very introspective. Which is fine, I guess, but I was looking for story.

Now for the pleasant surprises:

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt - I read this one earlier this year. I am not usually a fan of YA contemporary novels, but I read this for the Sequoyah awards. Usually, books about mental illness are very nebulous about the illness. This one was done very well. Her trauma was real and it was very obvious what caused her illness and it made sense that she would be that way.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner - This is another YA contemporary that was very good. It just told a story about 3 kids in a tiny, rural, town in the the south. They were relatable and real kids.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sondhya Menon - Another YA contemporary. I knew going in that this was a romance. I figured that, in typical romance fashion, the girl would give up on her dreams to follow the guy. I was wrong. The guy gave up on his parents' dreams to follow the girl. It was refreshing.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - This is YA sci-fi. So, double-yawn. Except it wasn't at all. It was exciting and fast-paced and the concept for the layout was fantastic. It was a 600 page book that I tackled in record time.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn - This author wrote some extremely popular thriller novels that I have turned my nose up at. I read this for the Read Harder Challenge and really enjoyed it. I'm not in a hurry to go read her other books, but I did like this one.

So I guess what I've learned from this process is that I should not be so dismissive of YA contemporary books.

What are some books that have surprised you?

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