This is part of The Broke and the Bookish‘s “Top Ten Tuesdays” meme.
Uniqueness is basically the writer’s holy grail. We want unique plots, unique characters, unique conflicts, unique worlds, unique plot twists, unique writing styles…basically, we want everything we do to be one-of-a-kind. That’s a pretty unattainable goal, but luckily for us, a little uniqueness goes a long way.
[bctt tweet=”A little uniqueness goes a long way.” username=”ruby_rumsey”]
10 of the most unique books I’ve read are:
- The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson (Louise Rennison). That coded language tho. Georgia’s crazy self-developed terminology gets more and more intense with every book, and while each book provides a glossary, the glossary is explained in code. (Code, of course, meaning any system of communication that, if one is unfamiliar with it, is unintelligible.) I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.
- Boy Meets Boy (David Levithan). This dreamy book isn’t just an LGTBQIA+ love story that doesn’t involve aggressive internalized homophobia (although that fact alone kinda makes it unique, too). Its chapters are told in a variety of formats—short and long, all-dialogue and no-dialogue, earthy and airy. It’s honestly quite amazing to read.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket). Is there anyone out there who gives less of a h*ck about literary convention than Lemony Snicket? Not only are these wordy, intelligent, sly books completely devoid of happiness—and really, who else does that?—but the pages themselves defy convention. This is the book series that once just had two pages that just said “very.” And that counted as part of the story.
- Chet Gecko (Bruce Hale). This JYA series is equally fun for children and adults because of its dedication to paying homage to film noir mysteries. Titular protagonist Chet Gecko solves mysteries a la Casablanca and Maltese Falcon in his animal-filled elementary school with all the flair (and vernacular) of Humphrey Bogart.
- Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Salman Rushdie). “What good are stories if they aren’t true?” Salman Rushdie’s going to tell you in the way that only he can—in a nonsense that makes sense, and via a fantastical world where the protagonist is the only sane one, and yet knows nothing.
- Page by Paige (Laura Lee Gulledge). It wouldn’t be a Top Ten Tuesdays list without a comic book! The art style in this book is so unique. Paige’s exterior life is illustrated fairly simply, but her rich interior life as an artist is full of movement and complexity. Finally, someone’s managed to visually describe what life is like for us creative folks.
- The Kane Chronicles (Rick Riordan). I love Percy Jackson, but pound for pound, The Kane Chronicles wins in terms of uniqueness. Warrior magicians who use a variety of unrecognizable tools and methods, gods inhabiting humans, and Riordan’s trademark combination of snappy quips, neat-o modern adaptations of ancient myths, and explosions every three pages make this series one h*ck of a read.
- The Witches (Roald Dahl). All of Roald Dahl’s books are kind of creepy and violent when you take a good look at them (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is basically a kids’ version of The Hunger Games), but The Witches takes that to a whole new level. Nobody can compete with Roald Dahl when it comes to inventiveness, both with worldbuilding and with language, but it’s the darkness in The Witches that makes it really stand out.
- Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer). A JYA book whose titular character isn’t good? A JYA book with kidnapping, extortion, guns, gory fights, and more than a little C4? This series is a real eye-opener and it’s rare to find one as violent and ambiguous as this in the JYA section. Is Artemis just a lonely child? Is he a violent, amoral criminal mastermind? Is he both? Is he neither? Let’s ponder this, shall we, kids?
- Girl, 15, Charming But Insane (Sue Limb). No, I will never shut up about these books. E V E R. Take a standard contemporary YA romcom and then remove all of the insufferable blathering on about boys with eyes like gemstones and mean blonde cheerleaders, and replace them with loving insults and beautiful best friends, and you’ve basically got Girl, 15, Charming But Insane—the chronicles of the funniest, most disaster-prone protagonist ever.
These books aren’t all unique for the same reasons, and they all have aspects that aren’t unique at all. There’s nothing new about love triangles, junior detectives, or using explosions to make stories more exciting. It just goes to show you that all it takes to be unique is one or two new ideas.
Have you read any of these? Do you agree that they’re unique, or do you know of a similar book/series?