MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood - So, this was awesome. It's smart, witty, scary, tragic, everything you want from a novel. Set in the not-so-distant future, the trilogy follows a handful of characters as they deal with the spread of a disease that wipes out the majority of the population. The first book is mainly Jimmy's story and follows him through adolescence into adulthood. His friend Glen (aka Crake) plays a major role in both Jimmy's life and the spread of the disease. The second book is my favorite. It is anchored by Toby, a woman taken in by God's Gardeners, a seemingly radical "eco"-cult and Ren, a young girl whose own story intertwines with Toby's. Each of them survive the outbreak and have to find a way to live afterwards. The third book finds all of our characters back together. I don't want to say too much because this is just such an enjoyable read and I'd rather not spoil anything. Also, HBO just signed Darren Aronofsky up to direct the adaptation, so this is going to be a hot commodity in the next couple of years.
In the Woods by Tana French - This book had me hooked from the beginning. I loved everything about it - the characters and their relationships, the Irish setting, the mysteries (yes, there are two major ones), everything. And then it ended and I was completely unsatisfied with the ending. Isn't that the worst? It bothered me for days. Anyway, the quick plot summary is that the body of a young girl is found at a construction site, prompting an investigation into her family and the small town where she lives. The tricky part comes when the cop assigned to the case is from the same small town and is the only known survivor of a tragedy that took place years before. Although he has removed himself from that town and changed his name, going home takes a great toll on him. The writing is terrific, I'm just ruined by the ending. Bleh.
Thirty Girls by Susan Minot - Over one hundred girls are stolen in the middle of the night from their school. Their headmistress nun goes after them, and is able to negotiate for their release, with the exception of thirty girls. This is those thirty girls' story, told mostly through Esther, one of their own. juxtaposed with the unspeakable horrors that these girls face is the story of Jane, running away from all that she knows in America to come to Africa, explore the country, explore herself, and hopefully write the girls' story. Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, is the villain in this story, the leader of the rebels who have taken the girls. The girls are starved, beaten, raped, forced to marry, forced to kill. It is horrendous. Jane meanwhile, stays with wealthy, white friends in Africa, living in luxury behind their gates, before traveling to Uganda to see these terrible things up close. A tough read, but very worth it.
Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson - So the thing about this book is that I started it and it was wonderful and then DC Public Library tweeted about how it was their book of the day, so I responded saying that I was actually reading it right now and loving it and then the mothereffing author of the book tweeted at me and said "Bam!". Moral of the story: Twitter can be amazing. Anyway, Pete is a social worker in rural Montana, a pretty serious alcoholic, and going through a separation. Terrible, right? Well, it gets worse. Pete's life is a never-ending wave of shit that happens to or around him. Why did I like this? Firstly, it's an incredibly interesting, wild, and amazing story. Secondly, the writing is superb. It's depressing as hell, but in the most beautifully done way.