Summer is over, if the chill in the air is any indication, and it both feels like no time has passed and that I’ve lived a very long day over three months. I definitely didn’t get enough reading done, but who ever does? (If you do, don’t tell me.) I’m thinking a lot about time lately–how we feel it, what we do with it, and how much we wish there was more of it.
Those thoughts have tinted some of my reading choices, all related to time, though I didn’t choose them for that reason. There’s a melancholy quality to these three books that still follows me after reading, and they handle that tinge of sadness in different ways.
Timekeeper by Tara Sim (Timekeeper #1)
If I said “this book is going to give you capital F-feelings about clocks,” you likely wouldn’t believe me. But Tara Sim does remarkable work in her debut novel, and the world she’s created is a unique and full backdrop for the love story at its heart. Danny Hart’s love of clockwork and his mechanical talents are all that’s left after he loses his father to a Stopped town, time halted because of a controversial and selfish decision by another mechanic. An encounter with a clock spirit–something Danny has only ever known to be a rumour, a story–changes his world even more.
I read most of Timekeeper in one go, on a morning when my train to work was running late, and time was something that I wasn’t feeling too generous about. Sim explores how time seeps into everything we do and every choice we make, and she does it with deft worldbuilding and stylistic choices. There is a queer love story in this book, and it was one of the most romantic things I’ve read so far this year, enchanting despite the danger that moves parallel to it. Timekeeper surprised me and charmed me, and I’m only sad I didn’t pick it up sooner.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (September 5)
There was a part of me that didn’t believe the title of this book when I first saw it, despite confirmation from Adam Silvera. Some readers likely won’t believe it either–after all, it’s a YA novel, and there’s got to be some unabashed hope and optimism, a way to a Happy Ending at the end right? But I can confirm that Mateo and Rufus do meet their demise, and that Silvera’s third novel is a heartwrenching and honest example of “it’s the journey, not the destination that matters.”
Mateo and Rufus are strangers but for the news they both receive minutes after midnight: today is their last day on Earth. At some point during the next 24 hours, they will die, and neither of them can change that fate. When the Last Friend app connects them, both boys embark on a final day that changes them in ways they never expected. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry through a lot of this book. Silvera unravels Mateo and Rufus’s lives hour by hour, conversation by conversation, small goodbyes on a day full of them. Mateo’s insecurities and great big heart broke my own, and Rufus’s desire to be good for the people who love him spoke to my soul. Their friendship is more than a final act of comfort, but a connection that reminds them of why life is valuable and real and important, a treasure worth more than many of us realize on any given day.
Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor (September 12)
I first read this delightful little novella back in 2013, in between installments of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. This year, it’s being rereleased as an illustrated paperback, adding a little more magic to Zuzana and Mik’s story.
Real talk: I love, love, love this book. Zuzana is a favourite YA supporting character of mine, partly because she and I are both stubborn and a little flighty, but she’s way more courageous than I could ever be. When she decides that she must romance Mik, it’s a decision that she commits to and carries out in hilarious and creative ways over a single night. Taylor invites readers to live that night with Zuzana and Mik in Prague, the scenery and hours palpable on every page. It’s so easy to see how they fit with each other through the alternating chapters that Taylor uses, and the illustrations from Jim DiBartolo only add to the otherworldly atmosphere. I laughed and sighed just as much, if not more, during this reread as I did in 2013, and I cannot wait to see the final magical edition on my bookshelf.