Literature

Stars of BookTok

Photo by Maja Metera.

By Maja Metera

Many know TikTok as an app with meaningless challenges, dances and jokes. However, the truth is that if you dig long enough – you will find your own side of it – be it psychology tips, witchcraft of the LGBT community. I stumbled up #booktok – part of TikTok for bookworms.

I had spent most of my childhood and adolescence with a book in my hand and glasses on my nose. I loved everything from drama, romance and fairy-tales to crime novels. And then I hit the age at which I was convinced I need to stop purchasing books from the “Young Adults” section. So I made it my goal to read only the classics and texts for ‘serious people’. That made me stop reading.

I am to the sort of person that can read with a sole purpose of self-growth and development. Let’s be honest – it’s boring.

That is why I am happy that quarantine made me download this app. Without it, I wouldn’t get back to reading for pleasure without worrying what others will think of me when they find out I religiously read stories about elves and so on. And here are some reviews of those most recommended by my fellow booktokers.

“RED QUEEN” SERIES BY V. AVEYARD

I found this series on one of the platforms with audiobooks back in December 2019. The idea is pretty interesting – there are two types of people called Reds and Slivers with accordingly red or silver blood. Only Silvers are believed to have powers like fire-bending and therefore yield the ruling class titles.

Main character Mer is a Red who, just like the rest of her kind, struggles to make ends meet and fears conscription what triggers most of her action and puts the whole story into motion. She tries to safe her best friend from an impending death on the war front and strikes a deal with the “underground.” Quick on her feet, she who manages to get into the Palace on the day of Queens Trial – a way to choose a betrothed for the next king, to steal money for payment. From that moment her life changes completely.

Aveyard created a set of complicated, morally-grey characters in the world where nothing is simply black or white. She filled the setting with pain, tragedy and small, scattered pleasures. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this well-written piece. It gets more and more annoying and confusing as the parts go on to the point in which the ending does not really make sense. The authors purposefully – but not skilfully – left it open.   

“THE CRUEL PRINCE” TRILOGY BY H. BLACK

It was a first story I read because of #booktok as I was interested in what one of my favourite authors from childhood – I read “Spiderwick chronicles” every summer for whole primary school – came up with for more mature audience. And I that made me fall down the rabbit hole.

I honestly forgot what it feels like to not be able to put a book down. One of the reasons why I find most novels boring is because they are simply predictable – in the same way that you know that prince and princess will live happily ever after in a Disney film. In the case of “The Cruel Prince”, every time I thought I knew what was going to happen – I was surprised with yet another plot twist. It is a fast-paced multiple-main-plots enemies-to-lovers story about a mortal girl who gets kidnapped with her two sisters to the world of elves by a murderer of her parents who the proceeds to raise them.

Magically, Black managed to make the book very interesting from the very first page. She is not one of those writers who need a few chapters to actually present you what the main point of the tale is – and I applaud that. It was a perfect book to bring me back my passion for reading.

“SERPENT AND DOVE” BY SH. MAHURIN

It is Mahurin’s debutant novel which presents us with a strange world where people speak French but the place does not exist on our maps – and yet is so relatable. It is a world of witches and those who hunt them in the name of God. It is full of mystery and the order in which information is revealed makes it captivating from the very first pages.

Lou – the main character, is a thief and an outcast which seems to be a common theme in #booktok recommended book. But contrary to the texts I talked about previously – it spiced up her character, makes her witty and “unladylike” and very interestingly shows how people change under the influence of their loved ones. She represents everyone who just does not fit into any of the two sides of the conflict. She is a powerful woman from a female lead village in a time of misogyny and hurtful patriarchy in a country ruled by men of various positions, men who focus on labels like “wife” as if they weren’t dealing with an actual person and didn’t have a relationship with her. They see it as a sworn duty to protect her in exchange for her obedience.

– I know Bible

– Then why are you silencing me when I speak the truth?

This story takes a fascinating spin on the problems of the modern-day world. It shows the world in which individuality is a flaw, the world of religious fanatics controlling what can be “good” or “bad” and are ready to kill to maintain their preferable order. Witches can be translated into any minority hated by those who are supposed to spread love and kindness. Lou has an important inside on how any radical point of view is not a solution. She shows that “Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should” and to convince intolerant people to change their minds, we first need to understand the way they think and why. Even though it is a fantasy novel for Young Adults, we can all learn a lot about our reality from it.

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