TTT: Books With Single-Word Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is currently hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Spring 2020 TBR, but since I’ve recently discussed my 2020 TBR and March TBR for various readathons, I’m going to do a past topic instead: Books With Single-Word Titles.I had trouble narrowing this list (isn’t that always the problem?), so to make things slightly easier for me I excluded books that started with The or A/An so that the titles are all strictly one word. I also eliminated graphic novels since I’m planning to do a separate post on them in the future. I still had enough books for at least two posts, so I removed any books I’ve mentioned recently on my blog and then did a brutal cull. Below are the top ten books I’m left with, in no particular order.

25895773._sx318_Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Novik’s ability to build a fairytale magical world and flesh it out into a beautiful story is laudworthy. Uprooted draws from established folklore and combines it with original elements into a complex magical system and epic adventure.

13455112Origin by Jessica Khoury

I really enjoyed this book. There were some weaker elements (almost insta-love, a secret reveal that was built up a lot but not really surprising), but the writing was so good that those elements didn’t detract from the reading experience. It was compelling, I was invested in the fate of the main characters, and I didn’t want to put the book down. I liked Pia’s characterization and the attention to detail paid to someone who grew up in an isolated, entirely scientific environment (taking figures of speech literally, not knowing common place names, etc). It added legitimacy and flavor. The descriptions of the environment, especially the jungle, made me feel like I was there. (Content Warning for animal experimentation and its consequences.)

All three books in this series have single-word titles and take place in the same world but can be read separately. I didn’t enjoy book 2, Vitro, so much, but book 3, Kalahari, was an awesome ride.

13539193Jane by Robin Maxwell

Everything an adventure should be. I love Jane’s character: her ambition, her determination, her intelligence. Seeing her wild journey throughout the trials she faces and how she works through and triumphs over them was…so freeing for me as a reader, actually. It was immensely satisfying.

I cannot praise enough the description and complexity in this book. There are many character arcs and plotlines that converge and move each other along. The paradisaical “Eden” is portrayed so well that I felt like I was there and getting the same awed inspiration that Jane does. I got completely swept up in some of the scenes, like the fire dancing. So powerful, so enticing.

I had some minor quibbles with some of the story arc framing (e.g. a flashback from Tarzan’s perspective somehow delving into another character’s thoughts); the “I’m not like the other girls and therefore better” aspect Jane takes on (though she does work through this slightly); and a couple instances of sex happening after the characters are angry. However, none of these things last long, happen often, or detract from the excellent aspects of this story.

Note that I have not read the original Tarzan stories so I cannot make any comparisons, but this retelling from Jane’s perspective is brilliant.

837188Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams

This book was a great, long sci-fi with a healthy dose of adventure thrown in. It was rough to get into the world, vocabulary, and distinguishing between the real world/oneirochronon and what daimones were, but after about 30-40 pages it made sense. And then after the inciting action on about page 100, I was hooked. (That might seem like a long time before it comes in, but the character and world introductions beforehand are essential.) I read the whole thing (all 450 pages) in one day. I especially appreciated seeing a bisexual, polyamorous male lead character, in a society where it’s not an issue, in a book written over 25 years ago. There is so much going on here: the thorough and fascinating worldbuilding, philosophical exploration of humanity and integrity, character and relationship development, scientific and technological advances, a realistic integration of cultural aspects from around Earth as we know it into a future society, high-energy action and adventure, secrecy and betrayal, and even some undercover work on a pre-technological world. Everything balanced perfectly, I was invested 100%, and I enjoyed every minute of this ride.

180270Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

Nicola Griffith is one of my favorite authors. This futuristic sci-fi follows an anthropologist in space as she studies the cultures that pop up on a world where, due to a disease, only women can live. Of course, she ends up getting so much more involved than she expected. It’s a tour de force of feminism and feminist exploration, and I’ve not yet encountered anything similar.

13618702Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Yes, this is a kid’s horror book. It’s still one of the very, very few books that has ever actually sent chills up my spine.

8202129Ash by Malinda Lo

I am an absolute sucker for retellings, and this is one of my favorites. I love the danger of the fairy world heavily woven into the Cinderella template. The overall atmosphere just drew me in.

23459208Chocolat by Joanne Harris

So, so good. The constant switching between past and present tense was distracting, and I thought the 2 seconds of romance in the end was thrown in unnecessarily. Otherwise, though, I loved everything else about this book. The women and the choices they work through (together, no less) are awesome. It was so refreshing to see an unapologetic criticism of the hypocrisy of the Christian church. Highly recommend.

13654Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Book 4 of the Earthsea series, all of which I recommend.) Pure feminist genius. I can’t describe enough how mind-blowingly well the exploration of the themes in this book is executed. It takes the seemingly powerless characters—women, children, the elderly, the disabled—and showcases their true power. The afterword brings it all together and makes me love Le Guin even more. Just go pick up this series right now.

6547258Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

I had been trying and failing with high fantasy epics for a while until I came to Mistborn. And for the entire audiobook, I was on the edge of my seat. The audio narrator has a distinct voice for every character, which just makes the experience so, so much more immersive. Mistborn was exactly the epic fantasy I wanted to dive into and never leave.

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And those are my top ten books with one-word titles! Let me know down in the comments if you’ve read any of these books and what your thoughts on them are.

 

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