BLEND Book Club: Your Picks for March

Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted beach read to pass the time until Spring Break or a book to make you question the meaning of life, we’ve got a lineup full of literature’s next big things.

By Lydia Gregovic


Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

“Black Leopard, Red Wolf”

“Game of Thrones” meets Black Panther in this new fantasy epic from Marlon James, called “the literary equivalent of a Marvel comic universe” by Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times. Set in a fictionalized Africa, the story centers on an infamous hunter named Tracker, who is hired to find a missing child and return him, dead or alive. What he discovers on his quest, however, only leads to more questions— namely, who exactly is this child, and why do so many people seem intent on keeping Tracker from finding him? James’ narration is at once enthralling and thought-provoking, introducing the reader to fascinating mythological creatures and then constantly forcing them to question who they can trust, if anyone. The first book of the author’s Dark Star trilogy, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” firmly establishes James as a fresh voice in fantasy who isn’t going anywhere fast.
Grab your own copy here!

Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

“The Next to Die”

Tired of rewatching “You” for the hundredth time? We’ve got a better alternative. British thriller writer Sophie Hannah is back and better than ever in her newest novel, “The Next to Die”, which features a goosebumps-inducing serial killer with an MO so strange, not even “Criminal Minds” has covered it. When two pairs of best friends are found dead after receiving handmade white books containing ominous lines of poetry, the Culver Valley Police force joins a regional manhunt for the murderer. A break in the case occurs when another recipient of a creepy white book is discovered— stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck, whose selection as a victim is confusing given that, well, Kim has no friends. Laden with plot twists and hidden motives, “The Next to Die” is a wonderful maze of a book that seeks not so much to hide important clues from the reader as to invite them to join in on the process of discovering, and in that way, become detectives themselves.

Grab your own copy here!

Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

“Cronin”

Whether your knowledge of graphic novels begins and ends with whichever Marvel movie just came out or you’re a die-hard devotee of the genre, Alison Wilgus’s, “Chronin” is a face-paced and lighthearted adventure sure to capture your attention. Take the genderbending premise of Mulan, throw in a little time travel and set it all in 19th century Japan, and you’ve basically got what Wilgus is going for in “Chronin”. The story begins in the year 2042 and follows college student Mirai Yoshida, who is forced to disguise herself as a male samurai warrior after a time-travel field trip gone wrong leaves her trapped in 1864 Japanese warrior society. Mirai’s tale is beautifully depicted through Wilgus’ greyscale drawings, and the simplicity of the color palette only serves to highlight the intricate details of the historical moment our heroine finds herself in. The best part? The last page of “Chronin” is really only its halfway point— Volume 2 is expected to drop next September!

Grab your own copy here!

Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

“The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018”

Summer reading lists take a backseat in this student-crafted anthology which expertly brings together the best of everything 2018 has to offer, from viral essays to niche web-comics. Forming the collection is a year-long process that involves weekly meetings and debates by the toughest selection panel around—15 Bay Area high school students— along with occasional guidance from guest editor Sheila Heti. Highlights include Alex Tizon’s essay “My Family’s Slave”,  a thoughtful and nuanced look at the realities of modern slavery, Seo-Young Chu’s devastating, highly moving account of life after rape, “A Reguge for Jae-In Doe: Fugues in the Key of English Major”, and Kristen Roupenian’s hit short story “Cat Person”, but really, this is a book worthy of being read from cover to cover.

Grab your own copy here!

Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

“On the Come Up”

Fans of Angie Thomas’s breakout first novel, “The Hate You Give”, will be delighted to return to Starr’s native Garden Heights, this time viewed through the eyes of 16-year-old high schooler Bri Jackson. An aspiring rapper, Bri dreams of following in the footsteps of her father, an underground hip-hop legend whose musical career was tragically cut short by gang violence. But when her first song catapults her to viral success, Bri must choose between embracing the angry media-construed image of her, along with all the fame it offers, and representing herself and her community in her own voice--all while struggling to avoid her family’s looming eviction from their home. Like “The Hate You Give”, “On the Come Up” is both a rallying cry against the discrimination and violence facing people of color in the U.S. and an ode to the cultural achievements of African-American communities all across the nation.

Grab your own copy here!