Technically, Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights is a sequel to Cake Shop in the Garden but it stands quite well on its own. I actually only realised that it’s a sequel due to the summarised info dump during the first couple of chapters — think throwback highlight reel at the start of new seasons of TV shows. Once that’s done and dusted, it’s back to regular writing and storytelling.
Sofia and the Utopia Machine fills an important space in Singapore literature not only as an young adult book but as science fiction. I don’t remember coming across any local YA books when I was in primary and secondary school. In fact, when I was still in secondary school, I wasn’t interested in Singapore literature precisely because it seemed to be geared towards adults. In that regard, it’s heartening that local YA books have gained more visibility in recent years.
Premise-wise, Everless was one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. It was very intriguing, to say the least. It presented a world where life and blood are currency. I loved this idea and really enjoyed how it was integrated into the story. It was ruthless. I think the details were very well thought-out, especially when it came to how the rich exploited the poor. I also liked the legends that were incorporated and how they pulsed through the lives of the characters.
Home means so many different things to different people, and I’ll Be Home For Christmas definitely captured that through the various short stories. Although, anthologies usually leave me with mixed feelings. I’ll Be Home For Christmas was no different. While I adored most short stories and the poem at the beginning, there were a few that I didn’t enjoy, and a couple of which that even left me confused.
No contest, The Hate U Give is the best young adult novel that was published in 2017. It’s filled with heart and soul, takes an honest look at racial discrimination, and doesn’t hold back any punches. It’s so honest and raw that it hurts to read and it’s precisely because of that that everyone and anyone, young or old, needs to read The Hate U Give.