As I mentioned on my last monthly recap, I will be trying out Top 5 Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted over at this GoodReads group. The July topics have come out now, and I’m really excited for the topics to come! This week’s topic is books without romance or with very minimal romance which is perfect for me as I’m rarely interested in books that are romance-heavy. There’s nothing wrong with romance in books, and I do love a well written one, but sometimes I just get tired of seeing the same tropes over and over again, so it’s always a nice surprise when authors choose to go another way. I can’t wait to see everyone’s lists and search for recommendations.
5. The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
This is a trope-defying zombie book. It follows the point of view of girl of about ten, surrounded by mostly four adults as they are in great peril. And yet, no romances develop! I found very realistic given the characters’ situation. Still, Carey delves deep into the characters, using the setting and the plot point to slowly unravel them. I personally didn’t love this book, but I admire Carey’s sharp writing.
4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
This is a delicious, atmospheric family drama with old gothic houses, murder, and a small town setting. It’s very such and to the point and heavy on the psychological. The most important relationship in the book by far is that of Merricat and her older sister, Constance. Merricat never, ever shows any interest in romance, you get the sense it’s not something that even crosses her mind.
3. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Victoria Schwab actually pitched this book on Goodreads as “Sin City PLUS Romeo and Juliet MINUS romance PLUS monsters,” and, yeah, that’s pretty accurate. Although the book follows the point of views of Kate, a girl, and August, a boy (or, well, monster), their growing relationship does not follow the typical YA path. The book focuses on how they interact with each other and their world (filled with monsters), not whether they’ll kiss. I loved it when it came out, so I actually reviewed it, if you’re interested.
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Also known as my latest obsession, this book focus of a ragtag group of thieves that are basically family as they con their way through a city and get caught in a bigger, bloodier plot. It has one of my favorite book friendships ever, I think, (though they’re practically brothers really) in that they would do everything for each other. If you’re a sucker for found families or friendship-focused books, you need to read this now. There a few romantic subplots on later books, especially so in the third one, but here there are none at all. Just cons, heists, blood, great worldbuilding and amazing friendships. The only thing is that there aren’t many main female characters in this book, which is sad, but thankfully no unnecessary romance was shoved in to fix it. And no, I’m not shutting up about this book
any time soon yet.
1. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
This is a historical fiction YA novel that follows a young pilot in World War II who gets caught and is sent to a women’s concentration camp. It is a hard, emotionally-draining book, but a great one. Rose, the protagonist, forms beautiful and deep relationships with other women at the camp, but there is no romance. It would almost feel inappropriate to include a romance subplot, given the traumatic experiences these characters are going through, and most of all it’s not necessary for this amazing story. It is about family, endurance, poetry and hope. I absolutely loved it.