Books that hit you just right

Jeroen Steenbeeke  
A few weeks ago I wrote a rather long post about books that rub you the wrong way. Books that, despite being generally well-written, leave a bad taste in your mouth, or worse: affect your mood in a negative way. I realize that this is mostly a matter of opinion, and that books I might find absolutely disgusting, other people might find amazing. Which books are and aren't good isn't what I'm trying to focus on here, but rather the effect they have on you, and why.

But for every book that ruined my mood, there is at least one book that had the opposite effect. Books that cheered me up, and kept me thinking about them for days, in a positive manner. As with the previous post, I'll give a few examples.


The first book on my list is Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson. It's a book for anyone aged 12 and up, but I read it anyway, and absolutely loved it.

Now, I must admit I'm a bit of a sucker for books (and movies, and series) about superpowers, so I guess this book had a head start in the liking it department. But books about superpowers aren't automatic successes with me. What did it for this book were the compelling characters, the mysteries regarding the Epics, and the numerous plot twists (Steelheart's weakness, Prof's secret, and finally: Firefight's identity), all of which brought by Sanderson's excellent writing style.

The next book on my list is Blood Healing, by K.J. Colt, the second book in her Healers of Meligna series.

Why the second book and not the first? The first book is a necessary buildup. It paints the picture of Adenine's life as it is for the first fourteen years of her life, when she lives mostly within her comfort zone, a peaceful medieval-style village. The second book takes her WAY out of this comfort zone into a monstrous dystopian society. It is this stark contrast that makes the second book one hell of a thrill ride, and one that stuck with me for days.

Next up, there's Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb:

While many people are familiar with Robin Hobb's Elderling universe (though strangely enough, I hear a lot of people read Dragon Keeper first, rather than Assassin's Apprentice), I don't think many of them are aware that she has written quite a few other fantasy novels, of which the Soldier Son trilogy is the only series she also published under her Robin Hobb pen name.

Soldier Son feels much like a story about the American Frontier. It takes place in a country with a strong military tradition that suffered a tremendous defeat at the hands of a neighboring nation two generations earlier, which led to a land-inward expansion, trampling native tribes in the process. The book is at its very core a clash of cultures and traditions, very similar to our own history, but through the use of various forms of magic: quite different as well. The main character, Nevare, develops from a young man strongly tied to traditions to defying these traditions, first subtly and unintentionally, but more drastically as the books progress.

I did feel the first book was much better than the latter two, but my issues are with the latter two are superficial at best.

I could probably go on for hours about books I liked. I loved Robin Hobb's latest book Fool's Assassin, and I could also mention Patrick Rothfuss' books as well.

I think that next time I should focus on why these books affect me like they do, both the good and the bad.

In the meantime, let's talk about books some more: what books hit you just right? Which books kept you thinking about them for days?