Staff picks: The best books of 2016

2016 has come to an end and it is time to talk about our favorites of the year. NUBB’s editorial staff has spoken, here are our best reads of 2016:

Anna:

Ravnenes hvisken by Malene Sølvsten

Ravnenes hvisken is a Danish fantasy novel about Anne, a girl who has moved from place to place in Nordjylland, from fosterhome to fosterhome. She now resides in a small town, living on her own and studying at the gymnasium. When a new girl starts in Anna’s class both girls are swept into a world filled with mythology and supernatural creatures. I’m usually not a big fan of crime novels and plots that starts with the discovery of a dead body, but it actually works quite well in Ravnenes hvisken. I really like the mix of magic suspense when the mystery is being solved. A good sense of humor and a warm and caring tone made me happy and eager to continue to read on. Ravnenes Hvisken is defintely one of the best releases of 2016 and I’m eagerly anticipating book two in this series, which comes out this year!

Mari:

Engel-i-snoeen

Engel i snøen by Anders Totland

Due to studies, I haven’t been able to read as much of this year’s releases as I would have liked to. Still I managed to read a few, and one of them stood out to me like a beacon in the night. My favorite read of the year is Engel i snøen(Eng. Angel in the snow) by Anders Totland. It is a story told from the 1. person point of view, of a young person who is seriously ill and is currently living in a hospital. Through the eyes of the patient we get to observe children and young adult who recovers from their illness and can return home to their loved ones, but as in real life there are sadly those who fade away little by little until they are no more. It is a sad story, but not a sentimental one, the quietness and feeling of realism of the story feels like a punch in the gut. The book is filled with contrasts and ever current themes such as life and death – the story opens for reflection and conversation. Engel i snøen is a story consisting of no more than 80 pages, 80 pages that will stay with me for a very long time.

 

Silje:

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Det hjelper ikke å blunke by Lene Ask

Det hjelper ikke å blunke is a nice and tender novel about growing up. Somethings like sleeping alone in the dark is gradually ok, but other things comes suddenly and unexpected. This is a story about Lily and all the small and difficult signs telling her she is no longer a child but on her way to become a young adult. It is a story of first love, standing on you own two feet without your parents, the feeling of being a failure and all the insecurities that belongs to this period of life. Lene Ask is especially good at conveying how confusing and difficult it is when those who has been closest to Lily, like her mother, father and her best friend Are, all of a sudden feels so distant to her, almost like strangers.

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En del av meg by Maren Engelsschiøn
Ida grew up not knowing her father. In Norway she was raised by her mother to believe that her father was dead. Now turning 18 Ida discovers that she has half siblings in Minnesota, so she enters a summer course at the university where her father worked so she can find out more about him and her native american roots. To learn more of her heritage Ida visits the local Native Americans-center and interviews people there, the interviews can be challenging. In this novel you get the ethical dilemma of searching for ones roots, but also falling in love, cowboys and a real American keg party in a novel that feels very little Norwegian in more than one way.

En engel i snøen by Anders Totland
Anders Totland  has written a quiet and powerful novel about a seriously ill young adult, who lives at a hospital. The readers know very little about the main character, what sex he or she is or what is wrong with him or her, still one understands quite a bit without it ever being spelled out.

Line:

I share a favorite with Silje this year, that is En del av meg av Maren Engelsschiøn. What first captured my interest was actually the cover, I collect dreamcatchers so naturally that sparked my curiosity. The story is about Ida who is styding abroad for the summer, in her father’s native country hoping to find out more about her roots. I devoured the story, I lived Ida’s life. It was the perfect book on a warm summer day, I cannot remember the last time I read a book this fast.

Hanna:

I just found out from my Goodreads account that I read 26 books this year (my challenge was 25 books! Yay :D) but only two of them were Finnish YA novels.

On June, I read Operaatio huulituli by Anna Hallava. I really liked the novel, it was just right and light enough to read on a hot summer day (or should I say, rainy day. It felt like it rained all summer this year, again). You can read about it in the review I wrote back in August.

In September, I read Rambo by Nadja Sumanen for our library’s reading circle. I really liked the novel and it brought me back to summer. Rambo had it much sunnier summer than I did. The idyllic description of those warm, careless, fine summer days were wonderful, but there were also real issues too chew up on. The novel was full of interesting characters and it had good rhythm. The mood was jumping up and down but this time it was a good thing. There were hard depression, beautiful summer idyll, teen angst, infatuations, scary and distressing parts, but also calming parts and interesting conversations. The novel tackles difficult issues and most of them gets a conclusion. I even shed some tears while reading this short book (with only 238 pages). You can find out more about this book from the review by Ellen, which was published on NUBB in February.

Jessica:

My YA reads this year have been very sparse. I set up a goal before this year begun to read at least 16 young adult novels before the end of 2016. According to my Goodreads account I have read… 3. At least one of them stood out as a really good one and it is by the Swedish author Madeleine Bäck. Vattnet drar is surprisingly her debut novel and the story is set in one of the dying suburbs in Sweden. We follow a group of youths trying to steal a picture in a church. One of them, Viktor, is mesmerized by a stone he sees by the altar, and he takes it with him. Something subtle is changed by that move, something evil in the nature is woken up. And so the darkness begins. Vattnet drar by Bäck is a fast-paced read with a lot of thrilling scenes. I look forward reading the sequel that is due to come out 2017!

David:

My absolute favorite of 2016 came out in April, and it is not surprisingly Jack by Christina Lindström. I’ve been raving about this book ever since. I loved her previous book Hälsningar från havets botten and had ridiculously high expectations, but Jack completely blew me away anyway. To me, this book stands head and shoulders above anything else released this year. The titular character Jack is THE popular guy in school, excelling in sports and girls throw themselves at him. When he meets Freja, love strikes, and strikes hard but of course not without complications. Jack’s past as a bully and neo-nazi rears it’s ugly head.  What I love about this book is not only that we for once get to read from a boy’s perspective but also how Christina Lindström expertly writes such believable characters and environments. The authenticity is nothing else than amazing, and I know that it is due to her day job as a teacher.

En väktares bekännelser by Elin Säfström is my second pick of the year. It is an urban fantasy-novel set in Stockholm with gnomes, trolls, fairies with absurd names and even crazier behavior. Very funny, fast paced and filled to the brim with loveable characters, I actually find it hard to believe that this is a debut novel. I’m glad to hear that a sequel is on the way as I cannot wait to read more about Tilda and her adventures as a watcher!

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