A Page from Their Books

In the books I’ve reviewed, I’ve tried to take one thing that the book did well. I’ve included it here for other writers out there for if they’re looking for a good example to help them in their own writing.

Book: A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #2) by Brandon Mull

This book is a great example of other-world fiction (when the MC goes from our world to a new one). The reader is often reminded that the world is different than ours by the MC’s uncertainty about customs, etc. This not only gives it an authentic feel, but also opens up opportunities for world building.

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Book: Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith

She does a fabulous job writing a character who has religious morals/beliefs that are a part of the character but that don’t come off sounding preachy.

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Book: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

She does a fabulous job with character progression, taking Sam from an unlikable character to one that you really love at the end. Even if you’re not writing an unlikable character, this is a great one to read just to study up on successful character arcs.

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Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Zusak does a phenomenal job at making characters real but incredibly endearing. Take a look at how he characterizes Rudy and Leisel’s Papa in particular.

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Book: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

As you read this story, you can really tell that the author knows the backstory about how the Return happened (when people started turning into zombies). When the characters mention the history, you can just tell that even though we aren’t told all of the details, that the author does and is sharing only pieces of her own knowledge. This strengthens the world considerably.

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Book: Matched by Allie Condie

Matched has a great example of a love triangle. Both guys are interesting and likable, but they have their own personalities. They’re also both seen enough that the reader can understand Cassia’s dilemma at knowing which one to choose, because the reader comes to love both of them too (at least I did). Let the reader wrestle with the decision along with the MC.

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Book: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

You could take every page from her book, so it’s hard to narrow it down. But one element that really impressed me is how she took an image she started with on page one of The Hunger Games and put a similar image in the final pages of Mockingjay, therefore tying together the beginning and end. SPOILER ALERT***highlight this next section only if you’ve read Mockingjay***The very first page of The Hunger Games begins with Buttercup lying next to Prim, staring at Katniss from across the room. A seemingly meaningless character–a cat that hates Katniss. The one thing they share is a love and devotion for Prim. In the final few pages of Mockingjay, Buttercup is the only character who can help Katniss work through her grief. We start with the cat and end with the cat. It’s beautiful writing, right there. Having the connecting images ties your story together and makes it feel complete. And gets people like me to think you’re one dang good writer. :)

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Book: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Thomas is stuck in these trials by WICKED and he has to use the people around him to help him reach his goal, but that doesn’t mean he can always trust them. Dashner did a great job at making Thomas, and the reader, question who he can trust. The trust doesn’t come automatically. It’s a great example of keeping situations of trust realistic. If your character is going through something difficult, maybe the trust comes slowly, even if the character wants to trust someone else.

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Book: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Kaylee is convinced she’s going crazy (before she knows the truth). Her struggle is wonderfully done–enough without overdoing it. If you have a character who is thinking she’s crazy before finding out something supernatural is happening, I suggest reading this book to see how Vincent does it.

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Book: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Characters who are so sad that they consider suicide are difficult to keep likable sometimes. You want them to be sad, but also keep them from being annoying or whiny. Donnelly does a great job at keeping Andi a character that we can still love as readers.

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Book: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Wow. Beautiful writing. Wow.

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Book: Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Sometimes it’s fun just to show parts of your world simply for the beauty of it. And making connections between our world and your fantasy world can be fun for the readers. Pike has a scene in which Laurel is watching performers in the faerie realm. It reveals things about the world, but it also is just fun to read. Find it in chapters 21-23.

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Book: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

She has successfully created a fantastic, yet unreliable character. If you’re looking to write an unreliable character, take notes from this book.

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Book: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

One of the greatest things about this book is he was writing about universal teenage problems. He seemed very connected to how teens think and feel. If you feel like you’re losing touch, find a way to reconnect with your teen audience–read your old diaries, interact with teens, and read all the teen books you can.

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