Pop Culture Thoughts from a Lady Gay

I consume a lot of pop culture. I'm also a gay lady, so some of the things that might annoy me or make me happy might not be the same for you. I'll talk about that as well.

Top Five YA Series For Newbies

I love reading books and read a wide range of genres. I would never have guessed though, that I would enjoy YA novels. They seemed like a silly waste of time since I was a full-grown adult. Then I found myself trying to get into listening to audiobooks. I wanted something for a roadtrip and also, often reached the end of podcasts that I enjoyed but still wanted to drown out the city noise around me. Unfortunately, the calming tones of someone reading to me made me basically drift off and stop listening and I didn't want to miss good books. That's when I grabbed a YA audiobook. My logic was that if I missed it I wouldn't care. Strangely, I found that I didn't miss any of it. Maybe it has to do with simpler plots, or different pacing, but either way, I now seek out these novels for a different kind of fun and I recommend it.

Here are five to get you started.

His Fair Assassin Series by Robin LaFevers: Assassin nuns in Medieval France. I feel like that phrase should make you throw your computer aside to go out and start this book series. It is comprised of three books, Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart. There is magic, seduction, murder, and the God of Death. When I say, God of Death, think sexy and mysterious. Here's what's great about this series. It's well written. I sincerely tried to push my way through the Twilight series and between the sexism and the poor writing, I found myself not having a good time at all. The author has done her research on Medieval France and she also writes strong female characters who play active roles in their love lives. Unlike Twilight which fetishizes the idea of the tortured powerful man and the woman who can tame him thanks to having "something special" about her (spoiler alert, that special thing is being into him enough to put up with his bullshit) this series portrays the possibility of women having good healthy sex. Even when it gets SUPER complicated. Bonus, I learned the word "garotte". 

Legend Series by Marie Lu: If dystopian futures with tragic love are more up your alley, then you are in luck because there are SO MANY YA dystopian novels that fit that bill. I recommend this one to start with. The world of the Legend series feels more solidly built than many, makes a decent commentary on government corruption and the class divide in society, and has a classic love against all odds story as well. They should definitely have made this movie instead of the Divergent movies (based on Veronica Roth's Divergent series) I feel like this series is not as predictable and it doesn't rely on a convoluted societal structure like the factions which, although an interesting idea, ends up feeling forced and like the author doesn't really have much to say about a couple of the factions (the Amity faction is the real the Hufflepuff of that world).

The Six of Crows Series by Leigh Bardugo: I have only read the first book of this duology but the characters are really engaging and there is some queer representation! It is a heist novel that gathers a ragtag gang pushed into a seedy life because of a number of reasons, some their own fault and some the fault of an unfair world. Each is willing to risk their lives in hopes of escaping their current situation. These two books take place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy where certain people possess great powers over the elements and human biology. I'm not sure I'm ready to dive fully into the Grisha Verse which seems to go a bit into the deeper end of fantasy but I definitely enjoyed this book. I am completely shipping Jesper and Wylan.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman: This is a classic series that centers around a young girl, Lyra, who lives in a universe where there are witches and talking bears and everyone has a daemon (a physical manifestation of their souls). She and her daemon, Pantalaimon, use bravery, savvy and trickery to try to save the children from a mysterious danger that they don't entirely understand. The trilogy travels through parallel universes on a fun and exciting adventure and takes a critical stance against Christianity and organized religion which I enjoyed quite a bit. 

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater: This four book series is absolutely ridiculous but fun! I would not say that it is written very well and I would highly recommend reading it out loud to someone who also enjoys ridiculous things. It follows a group of private school boys and Blue, a girl being raised by a group of psychic women on an adventure to find a Welsh king. The world has plenty of magic, some Welsh folklore, and a whole lot of car fetishizing. Seriously Maggie Steifvater writes about cars as though she lost her virginity to one. It's amazing. This series does have some queer representation which is great. It also has strong female characters, although it has a tendency to forget about them at times. The most interesting character in this series is Ronan, and it definitely should have been a four part series centered around Ronan, but on the whole it is some dumb fun. 


Jess Sutich