Hi friends! 👋🏻 2020 was a weird liminal space of a year that can only be split into “pre-lockdown” and “lockdown” so trying to remember what I read and watched has been very difficult, but from what I do remember, I can pick out some favourites that I want to talk about today!
I didn’t read as much as I usually would last year and that’s fine because what I did read, I really enjoyed. As for movies, I watched so many movies that picking five favourites was the most difficult thing. I blame 31 Days of Horror for that because I managed to watch 37 movies in October and ended up completely wearing myself out. And now I’m crawling the walls wanting to go to the cinema which has been closed here since November thanks to tier restrictions and then national lockdown. I’ve been ignoring every single person who tries to say that “cinemas are dead” because I know that they are wrong. I just want to go see a movie and eat my expensive popcorn in peace. 🥺
Vicious by V.E. Schwab – This was one of the very first books I read in 2020, way back in January and even though that was quite a while ago now, it has stuck in my mind ever since. I read both Vicious and Vengeful in 2020, and I loved both of them, but I think it’s fair to say that Vicious is my favourite of the two. I love the villain vs villain concept of the story and how there are technically no heroes and if there were ever to be a third book, I would drop everything to read it.
The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews – This book is probably the most important to me personally because while the cover makes it sound like a romance story, it is more about the relationship about two autistic brothers. I’m autistic myself and autism rep is something that is important to me because so many authors don’t get it right and treat autistic characters as being burdens to their peers. However, this is an Own Voices novel, which makes the representation so much more realistic and believable. Even though Avery is not autistic in the way that I am, I can still see how his autism is realistic because I have met people just like him in real life.
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I was considering putting both books in the series on this list, but when I thought about it, the first book is probably my favourite of the two, but they’re pretty much neck and neck because I loved both of them. The world-building in this series is so good, and I love that even though there are multiple POVs and the chapters alternate between characters, I can easily tell which character is which without looking at the chapter headings because they all have such distinct voices that make them vibrant.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson – One of my life’s resolutions is to read more books by Black authors, and I will admit that I haven’t done that well with that resolution, but I have found a new favourite through aiming to read more diversely. This is such a sweet book that has its heavy moments sometimes, but those heavy moments are important because it talks about being a queer Black girl and also talks about sickle cell disease, which is something that I thought could affect anyone but is primarily found in Black people.
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh – I had been told by quite a few people to lower my expectations of this book because there weren’t any vampires in a vampire book, but my reading experience proved those people wrong because there are vampires in this book. You don’t need to see the word ‘vampire’ written down on the page to know that there are vampires here just like how you don’t need to hear someone say ‘zombie’ in a zombie movie. I really enjoyed this book despite the mixed reviews I’d seen and although I had some gripes with the author’s knowledge of European (especially British) geography*, I’m very excited for The Damned, which I got for Christmas.
*one character from Edinburgh is described as being a “highlander”, when Edinburgh is in the Scottish Lowlands, one character in New Orleans is described as having a British accent, while another is said to have a Cockney accent, another is from Yorkshire, which are all British accents. Also, the main character is French but describes her French father as being “Anglo-Saxon” which means Germanic, not French.
Birds of Prey – Is this movie the most comic accurate movie I’ve ever seen? No. But that doesn’t bother me at all because I loved this movie so much. I usually hate using the word “fun” to describe comic book movies because it usually doesn’t mean anything to me, but this movie is a lot of fun. The title is a little misleading because it is more about Harley Quinn than the Birds of Prey themselves but that doesn’t bother me because Harley is fleshed out so much more in this movie because she is a primary character as opposed to part of an ensemble like she was in Suicide Squad (which I also enjoyed). Plus, we have queer rep here: Harley is confirmed to be bisexual and Renée Montoya’s sexuality isn’t erased. There is a little bit of queerbaiting with Zsasz and Roman Sionis which is frustrating, but you kind of have to squint to see it.
Re-Animator – I first saw this movie in March at a Lovecraft themed double-bill that the indie cinema I go to sometimes put on every Friday the 13th (they could only do one last year because they’ve been closed since the end of March last year), and while I didn’t think much of it the first time I watched it, I recently bought the Blu-Ray to watch again and I loved it so much more the second time around. I think it’s best to ignore that it’s a Lovecraft story because it feels more like a parody of Frankenstein, and while it is pretty gory it is really funny.
Evil Dead II – I watched the entire Evil Dead trilogy last year and my local cinema was open in October so they decided to screen lots of older movies which I am so thankful for because I ended up going three times in October, and even twice in one week. I saw the first movie in the series completely alone because I was literally the only person in the screen and while I did enjoy it and found it scary, I enjoyed the second one a lot more than the first and third because it mixes horror and comedy so perfectly. This one is gorier than Re-Animator but it doesn’t feel as gruesome because it’s so over the top that it becomes ridiculous. I loved this movie so much that it immediately because a special interest for me and I fell down a rabbit hole of reader insert fan fiction that I am not likely to get out of any time soon because there is a sequel TV series that I have yet to watch.
Get Out – I hate that I didn’t watch this movie sooner because it is so good. I could never be able to relate to the situation that the main character is in because I’m not Black, but I completely got the message that the movie has and can see how it would affect Black audiences so more than non-Black audiences. When I saw it in the cinema, there weren’t a lot of people there because of COVID guidelines, but when it was over, the lady sitting in front of me turned around and said “I don’t know how you can watch that by yourself” because she found it so scary.
Bill and Ted Face the Music – I kept a very close eye on this movie from the moment it was announced and was so excited for it. I’m glad that this one was released theatrically because watching this on the big screen was a great experience. I will admit that it’s odd seeing the main characters as middle-aged men instead of “teenagers” and young adults, especially since Keanu Reeves’ voice has changed so dramatically since he was 21 (don’t smoke, kids).
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What are some of your favourites from 2020?