I'm gonna be honest, this is the result of me having no other ideas of what to blog about this week. I tried coming up with stuff in advance, but nothing was clicking and the one idea I came up with was soon lost among other important things like how to do algebra and why America still uses Daylight Savings.
After racking my brains for a bit, I realized that I haven't done a full post dedicated to recommendations. It's also been ages since I've talked about underrated books that more people should be picking up. So here you go, five underrated books that I think people have been sleeping on.
twisted by andrew e. kaufman - psychological thriller
*Trigger Warnings* Murder, rape, homophobic comments, psychological trauma, PTSD, hallucinations, and mental illness.
As someone who is generally steers clear of scarier fiction, I was surprised when I enjoyed this. It was back during the early years of my blog. I got this as an e-ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from NetGalley and I made the mistake of mostly reading this at night.
However, I really enjoyed the book. It's a very well-written story about a prison psychologist who is working with some of the most dangerous men in the building. One of these men is a horrific serial killer who just moved into the building, accused of murdering ten young girls. But as their sessions start, the psychologist realizes that his newest client knows things he shouldn't and somehow, looks familiar.
The plot isn't the most original, but the execution is what sold me. I really enjoyed watching the whole thing unfold and seeing how convoluted things got as the psychologist dove further into the killer's mind. I'm a huge fan of criminal profiling and understanding the mind of people who do horrific things, which is one of the reasons why Criminal Minds is my favorite show. And while this isn't like the show, it hit all the right buttons in terms of my preference for darker books that deal with psychology.
Till this day, it's one of the few psychological thrillers I've recommended to other people. I haven't re-read it in awhile and I'm not even sure I still have it, but I think Current Me would still enjoy the story.
seaside by wylde scott - children's fiction
This is another book I got off NetGalley during my early blog days. I wasn't the biggest fan of children's fiction at the time, but this book was super cute and I think I read it in a couple of days.
The story revolves around a boy who lives in a fishing village where octopi terrorize the villagers. Everyone hates them and vows to kill them if they ever catch one, until the boy meets a tiny octopus who got lost and needs to get back to his mom.
It's a really cute story about friendship and acceptance of differences, even across species. I loved seeing the boy and the baby octopus slowly become friends and grow fond of each other. The artwork is also stunning, and I think that's half the reason why I love this so much. Though I didn't know much about how pictures worked with text in children's books, I knew that I was impressed with how the two flowed together. Knowing what I do know, I can tell that the writer and artist worked closely to make sure they were getting the right tones and that the text complimented the art and vice versa.
For anyone with kids from 7-13, I think this is a really great book. Even as a 23-year old, I'd still read this and enjoy it greatly. The story and characters are so cute and the moral of the story comes across really well. Plus, I loved how adorable the baby octopus was and it was so much fun to see how he interacted with everyone.
172 hours on the moon - sci fi
Back in the early days of my discovery of BookTube, I remember hearing Caz from LittleBookOwl talk about this. It was one of her favorite books and one she was constantly recommending to other people. I put it on my list of books to buy, but never got around to it.
Fast forward to sophomore year of college and I was looking for something to listen to on Audible. Suddenly, I remembered that I had been wanting to read this for years, so why not finally try it as an audiobook?
The story is about three teens who win the chance to go to the moon on a cool expedition. What they don't know is that the mission before theirs went badly and everyone involved in the program knows that something is wrong. That's a really vague description, but it's all you really need to know before starting this.
I found that not knowing much made the whole experience better. And though I had always wanted a physical copy, I think the audiobook does an even better job of telling the story. There's something different about hearing the experiences each teen has as they train to go to the moon and slowly begin realizing that little things aren't right. The narrator did a great job of making me feel spooked when the time was right, and I remember her doing a pretty good job with the different languages and accents too.
While this book had quite a bit of hype around it about half a decade ago, it hasn't really been talked about since. I think that's a shame since it's really a great book and could be a lot more popular if people gave it a try. Plus, it's also a translated story - originally in German and then translated to English.
If you like audiobook and science fiction, I think this is a good one to pick up. The beginning is a little slow and not all of the characters are likable, but they grow on you as the story progresses and the whole plot is really intriguing. Listening to this in the dark can also add to the spooky factor.
my sister rosa by justine larbalestier - thriller
Another recommendation from Caz, I picked this up from the library over Christmas break of sophomore year. It became one of my favorite books of the year and was one of the first YA thrillers I loved.
The premise is that a boy and his family move from Australia to New York, but moving isn't the stressful thing. The boy believes that his younger sister, Rosa, is a psychopath and has been hurting her friends. Without a way to prove it, he does whatever he can to keep an eye on her while also trying to adjust to a new life in America and spending time with a girl he's interested in.
This book really kept me on the edge of my seat and I'd love to re-read it soon because I think I can pick up on more within the story now that I'm older. The writing is really well-paced and all the reveals come at just the right time. It's super intriguing to watch the boy figure out if his sister is a psychopath or if he's just plain wrong. And reading about someone else adjusting to American culture resonated with me because I had my own adjustment period and arguably still am not fully adjusted even now.
Though Larbalestier hasn't published anything since this book, I really wish she would. If she turned to thrillers for the rest of her career, I think I could easily be happy reading them.
shadow of the fox - mythology fantasy
I've raved about this book since I first read it back in May. I had a copy because my sister accidentally bought two and gave me the extra, so I barely even knew anything about the book before I started reading it. All I knew was that Julie Kagawa is a Japanese-American author and it was Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so I was reading from Asian authors for a readathon.
Mythology isn't something I read a lot of outside of Percy Jackson, so finding out that this is about Japanese mythology made me really happy. I've enjoyed learning bits and pieces about Japanese mythology over the years from watching anime and reading up on my own. But this really taught me a lot more and I loved every moment of it.
Personally, I think you should go into this blind. I had a great time discovering things as I read the book, and I think knowing too much can make it hard to get into. The plot is excellently paced and the characters are super endearing. I had a ton of fun while reading and loved how much I was learning about a culture that has always interested me.
This book is also what made me realize my great love for the slow-burn romance trope. I don't think I would have figured out that I enjoyed that trope if not for how happy I was while reading this and watching things slowly unfold.
Knowing that this is an own-voices book made it that much better, and it allowed me to finally read an author I'd been hearing about for years. Kagawa has written two other series besides this, but I'd say this is her least well-known among them. I don't get it thought because I think more people should pick this up because it's great. I really want to pick up her backlist to see what they're like because I've heard great things about them. It's also the only instance in which I'd be open to reading about fae, so that's saying quite a bit.
That's it! Some of my favorite underrated books that I think more people should be picking up. Honestly, there's probably a longer list, but this is pretty good considering I came up with the idea at the last minute.
If people like this, I'd be happy to do more of them. As someone who is constantly late to reading popular books and occasionally finds gems elsewhere, I think it'd be a lot of fun for me to go through my Goodreads list to see what other books I love that I've barely talked about.