Best Book Ever: Underrated Books


This week on Best Book Ever, I wanted to talk about Underrated Books. Sure, maybe the book you have in mind didn't won any fancy prizes or might not have the huge fan base of other books, but you love it anyway. We've all got one or two of those lurking on our shelves, right? Check out our selections below!

Underrated Books, where do I even begin? There are many, many underrated books I can name, and I just happened to vlog about them last week, but the MOST underrated books are the books in the Atherton Trilogy by Patrick Carman. The trilogy had it all! If you like adventure, dystopian, mystery, friendship, danger, monsters, sci-fi (the list can go on and on), you will love this trilogy. The characters in the book were fierce in their own way. They had ambitions and they strived for it. The world building was also amazing. There were sci-fi elements that could thrilled the gadget geeks like me. There was scenary that could take your breath away. There were mysteries that boggled your mind. The Atherton books are some of the few books I would re-read.

Ashley @ FireStarBooks 

There are certain books from my childhood that have stuck with me since I read them so long ago and may even be responsible for me writing young adult science fiction now—books like Interstellar Pig by William Sleator and The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien. I could make a good case for either of those as the best ever "underrated book," but instead I'm going with Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein. The story is probably pretty dated now, but when it was published in 1985, it was a bit fresher and kind of edgy. At least, I thought so. It's about a kid named Andrew who receives a new, unreleased computer game from Japan (on a floppy disk, if you even know what that is!) called Space Demons. You'll be astonished to learn that he gets pulled into the game, along with his friends and a bully, and they all have to work together to get out of it; the game also starts encroaching on the real world, with the demons appearing as black cracks in their peripheral vision. At least, that's how I remember it.

I haven't reread it in a while, though I do own a copy of it (which is identical to the one I originally borrowed from my library). When I first encountered it, I hadn't read many children's books that got quite so dark and psychological, with a powerful message besides, and it really stuck with me over the years. I kept thinking about the book and wondering why I hadn't seen more from Rubinstein. It wasn't until years later, as an adult, that I learned she's an Australian author and there were actually two sequels to Space Demons: Skymaze and Shinkei. I hunted down those too. Apparently Space Demons was her first novel, and it actually won an award from the Children's Book Council of Australia and was taught in Australian schools, but I always figured she should have been a bigger deal in the U.S. because I thought her books were awesome and transformative. However, in researching this post, I've just discovered that she has had some success here after all, under a different name. It turns out she wrote a popular series called Tales of the Otori under the pseudonym Lian Hearn. A few years back, a friend sent me the first book, Across the Nightingale Floor, thinking I would like it--and proving she knows my tastes pretty well!

E.C. Myers, author of Quantum Coin (2012, Prometheus Books)

My absolute favorite book from childhood is GWINNA by Barbara Berger, and I know almost no one who has read it or even heard of it. It's a fairytale-esque story of a girl with wings who can speak to owls. Gwinna's parents turn to stone on her twelfth birthday because of an important promise they fail to keep, and she goes on a quest to a distant magical mountain to bring back the music that will return them to life. The gorgeous illustrations, also by Barbara Berger, are just as captivating as the story. My fourth grade teacher read GWINNA out loud to my class over a series of weeks, and I remember begging my parents to buy me my own copy—it was the first time I remember feeling I would be incomplete until I owned a certain book. I assure you that your life won't be complete either until you've gotten your hands on it. 

Alison Cherry, debut author of Red (2013, Delacorte Press)

As for us...

I could use this as an opportunity to tell everyone how much I love Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing (seriously, I have brought it up at least eight times in Best Book Ever- go read it already!), but I will try hard to refrain. This is a hard topic for me- I don't tend to read a lot of underrated books. So, I decided to go page through my Goodreads books to see if I could think of one and then I thought of it- I don't have an Underrated Book, but I have an Underrated SERIES. The Once Upon a Time series by Simon Pulse is a collection of Novella length fairy tale retellings- they are tiny compared to other YA books and in my opinion bridge the gap between Middle Grade fiction and Young Adult fiction. I can polish one off in a half hour- and they are so much fun! Check out this Listopia on Goodreads of all the OUaT books!
 
Coranne


I picked up Dr. Neruda's Cure for Evil, by Rafael Yglesias, at a thrift shop in college, on one of my regular "like the cover, looks interesting" shopping sprees.  (This is still how I frequently shop for books.)  I have a background in psychology and so have always been interested in books that show some aspect of treatment.  Well, this book is that and so much more.  As the title character, Rafael Neruda, tries to unravel what went wrong with a patient of his, it requires delving into his own dysfunctional childhood as a Cuban immigrant.  It is a long, strange story that spends time delving into politics of the 40s and 50s, the "threat" of Communism, religion, child prodigies, and wealthy New Yorkers, before coming back to the present, as Dr. Neruda tries to understand evil as a psychological disorder which can be cured.  While I wasn't a fan of the ending of the book, the immense amount of research that the author had to put in to make everything come together was just staggering, and despite it's length (nearly 700 pages), it's a fascinating tale.

Sarah

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