There are some books whose name needs no explanation. Of Mice and Men and Huckleberry Finn were read in most schools but I am not referring to these or even to Little Women and Pride and Prejudice. Rather, these are the books, so well-read that the readers of our age all knew of them (even if they hadn't actually read them).
This is the Harry Potters the Percy Jacksons the Fault in Our Stars and the Grishaverse books. These are the books that practically don't need reviews for they sell themselves with the word-of-mouth hype they get on the street.
Still, it is these books and others that have been left in the dust when it came to writing reviews for my blog. When I began to piece together my blog I started with some of the books I knew best but many didn't receive reviews. Favorites like Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series never got reviews as I moved on to reviewing books as I read them. The books I had read a thousand times and loved beyond all measure got no light shone upon them.
But with the introduction of the new element at the end of my reviews (check out the "Books Like This" section on the newer reviews!) I began to realize my mistake. Now there were no reviews to link to for my favorite books. They'd been left out and I wouldn't stand for it.
Thus, the introduction of "A Collection of Greats." "A Collection of Greats" will be a series of reviews so while there are five reviews in today's post you can expect to see more coming soon!
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: Cinder: 2012/Scarlet: 2013/Cress: 2014/Winter: 2015/Fairest: 2015/Stars Above: 2015/Wires and Nerve Volume 1: 2017/Wires and Nerve Volume 2: 2018
Pg. Count: Cinder: 400/Scarlet: 454/Cress: 552/Winter: 827/Fairest: 222/Stars Above: 400/Wires and Nerve Volume 1: 238/Wires and Nerve Volume 2: 324
Summary: The Lunar Chronicles is a series of fairy tale twists set in a future timeline where the world has undergone yet another world war, the continents have all allied with one another (each continent ruled by one government), and the moon has been populated and formed a country called Luna. Now, a pandemic rages across Earth killing everyone in its path, and the only solution for the young Prince Kai left grieving after the death of his father might be marriage. After all, the evil Queen Levana seems to have the cure. And the princess died in a fire in the nursery long ago...or did she?
Why I Like It: Marissa Meyer is a master of fairytale twists. Every time I re-read these books I find new hidden elements of the fairytales in the books (like the orange love bug that Cinder rides the ball!). Meyer doesn't just tell the tales in a magical fairytale world, she twists them into a sci-fi fantasy with cyborgs and androids, adventure, and love and humor. I love the characters, the sarcasm, and the banter (not just between enemies-to-lovers but between friends!!!). I could stay in this world with these characters forever.
The Red Queen Trilogy by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: Red Queen: 2015/Glass Sword: 2016/Kings Cage: 2017/War Storm: 2018
Pg. Count: Red Queen: 383/Glass Sword: 444/Kings Cage: 528/War Storm: 662
Summary: There are two kinds of blood: silver and red. The silver live like gods because they are. The blood that runs through their veins is their power—power to create fire, to manipulate metal, to sing someone into submission, or to weave light until they are invisible. The red are their slaves, the ants beneath their feet. Until one day, one of those reds has a power unlike anyone has seen before. Can Mare use that power to create change? And what if the silvers she once saw as monsters aren't all bad? How can she mold a society that fosters equality for all if she is just one person?
Why I Like It: Red Queen shows both how one person can begin to move the wheels to make a change in a messed up world and how a messed up world doesn't mean messed up people. It shows how even those living in a corrupt society can change or can have beliefs that don't match those around them. I also love the characters in the story, the sarcastic, witty, and strong women who can stand up for themselves in particular. Aveyard surprised me more than once with a plot twist or two which doesn't happen often and I really enjoyed her fight scenes which I felt I could learn from.
The Talon Saga by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: Talon: 2014/Rogue: 2015/Soldier: 2016/Legion: 2017/Inferno: 2018
Pg. Count: Talon: 449/Rogue: 444/Soldier: 380/Legion: 384/Inferno: 397
Summary: In a world where the dragons that were once hunted to near extinction can take the form of humans, Ember and her brother Dante are trying to find their place as young hatchlings. Lucky for them, their training takes place in a pretty little seaside town where they get to explore and make friends with the humans around them. What they don't know is that some of those humans are out to get them. Embedded in the town are agents of "The Order," a church organization that hunts down dragons and kills them. An Ember happens to be falling for one of them. Now Ember must decide: the life of death and fear she was born into or a life on the run as a "rogue." Neither will ensure she ends up with the man of her dreams but one just might be more right.
Why I Like It: Similar to a lot of series that have come out in the past 10-15 years, this series uses fantasy to explore some of our modern issues revolving around race and judging one another on the race we were born to or the actions of those similar to us. Just like a lot of the other series, it uses an enemies-to-lovers story to do so and it was the first book I personally read that did so (though perhaps there were other books that used the method before the Talon Saga). Unlike other similar books, The Talon Saga is set in our world with fantastical elements (in other words, its low fantasy) which gives it a different feel and in some ways makes the characters more relatable. I love the way that Kagawa develops her characters and the way she really thinks about her dragons (giving their whole body systems and emotions thought). Though this is the only one of her series I've ever enjoyed, it's one I would rate highly. Plus, the covers are stunning (and have a 3D effect!)
The Selection Series by Kierra Cass
Release Date: The Selection: 2012/The Elite: 2013/The One: 2014/The Heir: 2015/The Crown: 2016
Pg. Count: The Selection: 336/The Elite: 336/The One: 323/The Heir: 342/The Crown: 278
Summary: The Prince is choosing his bride and America is in the age group of women who might just be chosen for the slot. All the eligible women are tossed into a drawing and one is chosen from each province with the prince choosing his bride from the selections. Ony America doesn't want to be chosen. She hopes to marry her secret sweetheart from home. Not that she gets much of a choice. When her name is drawn, she must be a part of the ballgowns, makeup, tea parties, and television shows. She only hopes to make it through it all without earning herself a husband or a shot in the shoulder from the rebels attacking the palace. In this romantic dystopian, America and all those fighting with and against her can only hope to come out the other side with their wits about them.
Why I Like It: The Selection is dystopian that doesn't quite follow the traditional dystopian plot scheme. It is similar to the Matched Trilogy in that, above all else, it is a love story though it is set against the plot of a dystopian. This gives the book a much more lighthearted feeling while allowing those who enjoy romance but can't stand sappy stories (with too much drama and not enough fighting!) to fall for these books. Really the series just has a dash of something that feels original and sweet and makes you want to return for more and while books similar to it might have similar elements in their plots, similar characters, a similar world, or a similar mood they don't have that same dash of unique dystopian lightheartedness that this series does.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Release Date: January 10th, 2012
Pg. Count: 313
Summary: Hazel has terminal lung cancer and has for a while. She has accepted her fate and what it means for the rest of her life. That's until she meets August Waters. He's handsome and witty and sarcastic and everything she doesn't need in her life. And everything she didn't know she WANTED. But even his wit and beauty can't cure cancer and she knows their love story has to end sometime. Is it worth the pain for the both of them to let it continue for just one day more?
Why I Like It: This book shows the importance of love. Love can be sad—heartbreaking even—but just because we might feel pain doesn't mean we shouldn't let ourselves enjoy the beautiful side of love. Green is an expert at breaking hearts and changing minds and I love that about his books but this one, in particular, builds the characters so well you feel as if you know them before they are ripped away from you. This one, in particular, has plot twists and obstacles you didn't see coming. And this one, in particular, despite the pain it will cause you, will make you smile and laugh and cry.