Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month, in the magazine issue and on the website. March 2017’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
For me, The Hate U Give read more like a memoir than a work of fiction. I felt like I knew Starr and her family. Vivid scenes transported me to the awful night when Starr loses her childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. I was so enthralled by Starr’s story that I would not have been the least bit surprised to turn on the TV in my living room and see news stories about protests in Garden Heights. I truly believe that THUG has the power to open eyes and change lives. If I could, I would make it so that a digital copy of the book magically appeared on every ereader and smartphone in America. It’s. That. Good. If this narrative inspires even one person to remove their blinders and reconsider their perception of social justice, then I call that a win. I can’t wait to see what Angie writes next. — Kristin Stec
The characters in Angie Thomas’s debut are so well-drawn and multidimensional, it’s astonishing. Starr’s world, which she graciously lets us into for 400-plus pages, is meticulously created, allowing us a look at what it’s like to be a teenager trapped in the midst of a tragedy-turned-news-story, while also dealing with friend and boy troubles — and so much more. Her family is just wonderful, from her mom (an instant YA parent idol), to the rest of her loving, complicated clan, as Thomas gives us an intimate family portrait that will stay with you. As Starr struggled and fought to find her way, I gripped the pages tightly, rooting for her, almost forgetting she wasn’t real. Do yourself a favor and read this book. — Elissa Petruzzi
In her debut novel, Thomas brings a fresh first-person perspective to a modern-day tragedy. Starr is a captivating heroine with an honest voice. Raw emotions will draw readers into her world as she experiences life after a senseless tragedy. The well-defined characters that surround Starr are authentic and powerful. With brilliant storytelling and deft accuracy, Thomas captures the tone of Starr’s neighborhood in a time of crisis, making her tale a timely one that readers will find difficult to put down. — Melanie Bates
Becky Chambers returns with her second novel, and it’s just as addicting as the first. Beginning mere moments after the emotional ending of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, her new book changes the focus from the crew of the Wayfarer to two new and exciting characters. The narrative switches between Pepper’s upbringing as a genetically engineered child laborer given a new chance at life and Sidra, an AI forced to navigate the world in an illegal synthetic body. If you’re looking for your new favorite SF author, then it’s time to check out Becky Chambers.— Emily Walton
After reading Lisa Kleypas’s Marrying Winterborne in the Ravenels series, I was dying to know who would be the next to find love … it’s Pandora’s turn! But Pandora isn’t interested in marrying — not when it means sacrificing her autonomy and giving her husband her capital and business ties. But once she’s caught in a compromising position with Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent (the son of Kleypas’s couple in Devil in Winter!), the two will have to navigate a tense engagement. Watching these two fall in love against their initial wishes is swoon-worthy, and seeing the rest of the Ravenel family support Pandora, no matter what, is very touching. — Emily Walton
Rhenna Morgan has rolled all the most delicious bad boy tropes into one neat little package. Vivian has good reason to avoid the partying lifestyle— her father died in a bar fight when she was young and now her sister deals with her own substance abuse problems. However, Jace is a force to be reckoned with. The Haven Brotherhood lives by their own code of honor, one that’s easier to accept than Vivian originally believes. Above all, Jace can give Vivian the one thing she’s craved her whole life, but has never truly had— a safety net. — Kristin Stec
Sasha is a survivor to root for in this romantic suspense — and you know Armentrout’s heroes are always super dreamy (I have my favorites but I’ll never tell). In Till Death, there’s a scary mystery and a swoonworthy reunited romance to keep you entertained. But it’s Sasha’s journey, from terrified to triumphant (and in love) that will keep you turning the pages. An added bonus is that the love story totally makes sense in the book’s murder-y context, satisfying my plot hole-hating heart. — Elissa Petruzzi
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.