Despite being an English major, I didn’t actually get back into pleasure reading until 2022 when I discovered “BookTok.” This is a category of TikTok videos where people post about the books that they’re reading, ones that they like and dislike, and books that are popular. 

I had seen those videos before, but I always brushed them aside. However, one day I saw one of the popular books going around, “It Ends With Us,” by Colleen Hoover, at my local bookstore. Despite my interest in reading at the time being practically nonexistent, I wanted to see why this book was getting so much attention online. So I picked up a copy. 

I was surprised by how much I liked it. I even read it in one sitting! It certainly wasn’t the best quality book, and the themes in it are questionable, but it was entertaining. It made me wonder how many books like that I was missing out on. 

In 2023, I read 35 books of all sorts of genres. I had to read classics for many of my English classes. So during my off time, I would switch to reading more modern, popular and cheesy stories. 

In 2024, I increased my goal to read 40 books by the end of the year, which means that I am reading a lot! So why not write a review for each of the books that I’ve read in 2024?

One of the first books that I read in 2024 was “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. I read this entire book in one day, so my review of this story may be a bit predictable!

This is a very popular book, not only on platforms like TikTok, but among a very wide audience. It was adapted into a movie in 2022 and was led by Daisy Edgar Jones, who is most known for her role as Marianne in “Normal People” (another very popular book turned television show). The movie also included a new song from Taylor Swift on the soundtrack called “Carolina,” which drew an entirely new audience to the book and film.

The story follows Kya Clark, who lives in the marshes of North Carolina. She is uneducated, living alone in the poorly-maintained house her family abandoned. So when a well-known town figure shows up dead, she is immediately suspected.

Despite the attention on the book, I had no desire to read it. Mystery novels had a history of disappointing me with their endings, and the setting just didn’t interest me. I’m not a big fan of books that take place in the south because they typically have that cowboy vibe that I just don’t love. 

It wasn’t until my grandmother insisted that I borrow her copy and read it that I decided to give it a chance. My grandma, mom and I rotate through books so we can talk about them together, and I was the only person who hadn’t read “Where the Crawdads Sing” yet. So, I borrowed her copy and brought it to Florida with me at the beginning of January.

At first, I found it very difficult to get into. It was a slow start, and middle, frankly. It was pretty much just background information leading up to the murder. I didn’t love that writing choice at first, but the more I read, the more that I didn’t mind it because little details started to come together that made the mystery more compelling. So if you do choose to read this book, don’t give up too soon.

Owens did a great job at developing Kya’s character. She felt like a real person and you felt for her throughout the story. I didn’t feel the same way about the other characters, but I didn’t dock any stars for it because Kya was the main character after all—it makes sense why she would be the most complex of them. 

The quality of the writing itself was great too. Like I said, I’m not a fan of country stories and part of that is because the dialogue is often written with an accent. Usually, I find it insufferable to read. However, Owens did a great job of making the language in the story natural to the point where I didn’t even notice that the characters were speaking with accents. 

Outside of the writing, this story is interesting because the author is actually wanted for murder

You heard that right. 

Owens is a conservationist outside of writing and spent several years in Zambia. In 1996, a Zambian poacher was shot and killed on camera, and Owens and her husband were both accused of the murder. Now that they’ve left Zambia, they aren’t allowed to return. 

This has bred conspiracies that “Where the Crawdads Sing” is an eerie retelling of Owens’ time in Zambia, though not confirmed by the author. However, the similarities are uncanny. 

I ultimately give “Where the Crawdads Sing” four stars. I was pleasantly surprised by how engaged I was with the story and how great the writing itself was. 

However, for me to give a book five stars, something about it has to be exceptional, and it didn’t stand out to me as one of the best that I’ve ever read. 

It was still a great read nonetheless, and I do recommend it!

By Liz Morin

English (Creative Writing) and Digital Journalism || Politics Minor

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