The Most Overlooked Books Of 2017

01/02/2018 05:22 pm ET Updated Jan 02, 2018

Originally published on Kirkus. For more from Kirkus, click here.

The Talented Ribkins by Ladee Hubbard

"To describe this novel, as someone inevitably will, as Song of Solomon reimagined as a Marvel Comics franchise is to shortchange its cleverness and audacity.” Hubbard shrewdly molds the pop-culture mythology of the comic-book superhero team into a magical-realist metaphor for African-American struggles since the real-life heroic battle against segregation in the middle of the 20th century. Read full book review.

History of a Disappearance: The Story of a Forgotten Polish Town by Filip Springer

"Lucid and literate: a brilliant model of historical writing about place and a beguiling treat for armchair travelers as well." An evocative study of a town in Poland's outback, one scarcely known even in its day. Read full book review.

The Gift by Barbara Browning

"A delicious love letter to readers and co-conspirators everywhere." In this exquisite meditation on gift-giving, intimacy, the body, and performance, Browning (I'm Trying to Reach You, 2012, etc.) dashes the boundaries between autofiction and novel and offers daring readers something more intimate and muscular than a mere book. Read full book review.

Release by Patrick Ness

"Literary, illuminating, and stunningly told. (Fiction. 14-18)" An extraordinary, ordinary day in the life of Adam Thorn. Read full book review.

All the Angels and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands by Stephanie Elizondo Griest

"In this well-conceived book, the author demonstrates unforgettably that national borders constitute much more than lines on a map." An exploration of the borderlands that deftly mixes memoir, groundbreaking sociology, deep reporting, and compelling writing. Read full book review.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

"A wrenching depiction of depression and anxiety, respectful to fandom, online-only friendships, and the benefits and dangers of internet fame. (Fiction. 13-17)" Creator of an astonishingly successful webcomic—or a nonentity of a high school senior? Read full book review.

Traces of Vermeer by Jane Jelley

"Featuring wonderful illustrations, engaging prose, and a deep knowledge of the craft, this is a study in art history and methodology to delight an audience beyond just visual artists." A painter of still life and landscape shares her theories and re-creations of Johannes Vermeer's artistic methods, primarily whether or not he used a camera obscura. Read full book review.

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

"A tremendous new voice; a writer of immense talent and depth." In this aptly named story collection by Clarke (The Hate Race, 2016), an Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean heritage, people living in various countries struggle to build better lives for themselves. Read full book review.

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness by Howard Jones

"Jones succeeds on all counts in a book that, due to its subject matter, is not pleasant to read but is powerful and important." A scrupulous history of one of the darkest moments in American military history. Read full book review.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

"A stunningly good, understated novel told in a mesmerizing voice." A young girl disappears outside a small village in northern England. Read full book review.

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

"This quiet read builds to a satisfying conclusion; readers will be glad to make space in their hearts—and bookshelves—for Janna Yusuf. (Fiction. 12-18)" Janna Yusuf has two major problems: the boy who assaults her at her friend's party is well-respected in the local Muslim community, and now the boy from school she's been crushing on likes her back. Read full book review.

Everybody Had an Ocean: Music and Mayhem in 1960’s Los Angeles by William McKeen

"Excellent social history, bracketing David Talbot's Season of the Witch (2012) as an indispensable account of a time of beauty and terror." Searching account of 1960s Southern California, when the wistful innocence of the Beach Boys died alongside the victims of Charles Manson. Read full book review.

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

"A first-rate entertainment with a rich historical feel and some delightful twists." This sparkling first novel sends a young man through a gantlet of troubles and amusements in 18th-century Manhattan. Read full book review.

When Morning Comes by Arushi Raina

"This timely reminder of the power and passion of young people contextualizes current student protests by honoring those of the past. (historical note, glossary, glossary sources) (Historical fiction. 13-adult)" In her debut novel, Raina applies the now-familiar "teenage girl takes on the government" trope to the Soweto uprising of June 1976. Read full book review.

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

"Empathetic but never sentimental; a book that creeps up on you and then swallows you whole." Unexpected and nuanced and pulsing with life, Whitaker's debut cuts straight to the heart of the creative process. Read full book review.

A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City by Drew Philip

"A standout in the Detroit rehab genre." A young man finds joy in a "place they said no one could love." Read full book review.

CONVERSATIONS