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Examples: Oliver Twist, The False Prince, Shadow and Bone
Much is made of the inclination in YA and MG to kill off parents. While I'm not a fan of this trend in general (I think it's lazy), I do enjoy a story with an honest-to-goodness orphan a la Oliver Twist. Give me fantasy orphanages! Give me angst! Give me life on the streets! I like the hard scrabble journeys of an orphan kid carving out their niche in the world around them. And also, orphans often interact with...
Examples: The Thief, The False Prince, Scarlet, Thief's Covenant
I love thieves! Love them! I'd blame Megan Whalen Turner, but the title of The Thief is what attracted me to the book in the first place. I love thieves and their sneakiness and cleverness and potential moral crises. Unlike other criminals, thieves often have their own fascinating moral codes. Just look at Tamora Pierce's various thieves. Love 'em!
Examples: Rowan Hood, Alanna, Seven Daughter and Seven Sons
Why don't we have more books with disguises?! There are two subsets here that I adore. First, I love it when a girl disguises herself as a boy for various reasons. She'll struggle through secrecy issues and relationship issues on top of whatever else is going on in the story, because you know at some point she'll fall in love with someone who doesn't know her true identity. It's all so Mulan! The second subset is the Master of Disguise. Male or female, I love any character who can slip around unnoticed due to their sneaky ways with a makeup kit.
Examples: These Broken Stars, Across the Universe, Starglass
I don't want Earthbound sci-fi. I want sci-fi IN SPAAAAAAAACE! I want to visit other planets and meet interesting species and be chased by critters! Tell me that we're going to a new world, and I'm so there.
Examples: I Hunt Killers, Project Cain, I Am Not A Serial Killer, Velveteen, The Name of the Star
Yes. Just... yes. Serial killers. They're not awesome in real life, but in fiction they're amazing.
Examples: Beauty, Cinder, Entwined
I love fairy tales. I love retellings in general. Fairy tale retellings are the best. They take a tale nearly everyone is familiar with and turns it on its head. It could be that the tale is told from a different point of view, or is twisted to make the hero the villain and vice-versa, or is set in a different time or country.
Examples: Throne of Glass, Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Graceling
Even more than thieves, assassins make for AMAZING stories. By necessity, they must be even faster, stronger, sneakier, and deal with even more potent moral conundrums! Bonus points if poisons are strongly featured.
Examples: Heist Society, Out of Sight, Out of Time, Also Known As
I stuck spies and con artists together because 1) I can't go over 10, and 2) they're often intertwined. Spies by nature of their work are often con artists, and con artists often spy on others as a way to learn more about their marks. I love the twistiness, the lies, the psychology, and the danger.
Examples: The Thief, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Code Name Verity, 17 & Gone
Okay, this one is totally on Megan Whalen Turner. Often, having an unreliable narrator is the only way for a book to truly surprise me with a twist. I'm too quick to guess what's going on otherwise. Of course, a book won't actually mention an unreliable narrator in the synopsis, but if I hear about one existing in a review, you better believe I'm going to go hunting for a copy of the book ASAP.
Examples: Eragon, Tiger's Curse, Sisters Red
Since I'm not a fan of the typical paranormal story, I haven't read too many shapeshifter stories, but I like the idea in theory. Perhaps it's because shapeshifters can be the most epic mish-mash of Master of Disguise and spy ever invented?
I can't wait to read everyone's lists, and I'm sure I'll come across hooks that I'll kick myself for not including on my own list. But I'd like to know, do any of my picks resonate with you?