Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life
Well, it’s been a banner year, folks. Having read over 150 books (!!!), it was more than a bit difficult to pick a top five or even top ten, so I cheated a bit and narrowed down my picks by genre and reading level. These aren’t necessarily new books (though they’re new to me), but they are generally books I already have read multiple times or plan on it in the near future. Most likely they are a part of my ever growing personal library or they soon will be, when I can pony up the funds to purchase them. If you haven’t given them a shot yet, what are you waiting for?
The Best of the Best
It’s amazing to think that a book I almost didn’t continue reading has turned out to be one of my absolute favorite books this year. Franny Billingsley gets a big high five for creating a book with a totally unique premise, incredible characters, and giving the main character, Briony, such a captivating voice (though this is initially what put me off on the book — I’m so glad I stuck with it). This isn’t a book for everyone, but it’s definitely one you won’t quickly forget.
If someone has asked me for a recommendation for a book this year, this is the title I have most frequently shoved in their hands. There’s just something so undeniably appealing about it, despite the fact that it’s dystopian fiction and that generally offers some unhappy account of how troubled our society is or will be some time in the not-so-distant future, which is the type of story that puts a frown on my face (so sue me, I like a book that offers the promise of a happy ending. DF generally does not). It seems like dystopian fiction is the new vampire in the young adult realm and all the books tend to blend in together anymore, but Veronica Roth has managed to pen a tale that stands out in the crowd. It might be difficult to imagine our society dividing into factions focused on the cultivation of a particular virtue, but that doesn’t mean I can’t suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy an amazing story like this one. Want a book with a herioine actually worthy of the title of strong female character, a realistic (but sizzling) romance, an action packed plot, and a “holy crap, I didn’t see that coming” sort of ending? Divergent is the book for you.
I don’t want to say too much about Froi, since it is a sequel and not yet out in the States, but run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore or library and find a copy of Finnikin of the Rock. Read. Repeat if necessary (and it will be necessary). Wait with eager anticipation until March rolls around and then inhale Froi of the Exiles. I won’t say I told you so. I promise.
The Best of Realistic Fiction
First things first: I finally got a copy of the Australian version with the awesome cover. *fangirl squeal* Goodbye generic American cover, hello gorgeous, moody black and white image!
*Ahem* Now that that is out of my system, let me say that Melina Marchetta is one of the few authors who can persuade me to read realistic fiction. She’s just that good. As amazing as all of her other books are, The Piper’s Son just might have blown them all away. Y’all, this is not a statement I can say lightly, considering how much I love, love, love Jellicoe Road. When I say you need to read this book, trust me, you really do need to read it.
The Best of Fantasy
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This is a book for horse-lovers, especially if those horses are the mythological variety with a penchant for eating and/or drowning folks. This is a book for those who couldn’t give a rat’s behind about horses. This is a book for those who like their heroines feisty and their heroes quiet and mysterious. This is a book for those who can appreciate the beauty and appeal of places that few others can. This is a book for those who like their mouths to literally water as they read. This is a book for just about anybody.
The Best of Paranormal/Supernatural Fiction
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Ladies and gentlemen, I hate paranormal fiction. Ever since the travesty that is the Twilight series (I’m sorry, but they need a few more Vikings to make them a proper saga), practically all I can find in the young adult section of every bookstore is paranormal fiction. As if vampires weren’t bad enough, then we got werewolves and zombies and angels and whatever other mythological creature they scrounge up next. I was so sick of it all, I could have puked.
Then I read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.
And I liked it. A lot. It proved to me that perhaps paranormal fiction could be hilarious and unique and worth my time reading after all, which is the only reason I was willing to pick up the next title(s) on this list . . .
The Best of Adult Fiction
Feed and Deadline by Mira Grant
If you are looking for a zombie book full of blood and gore and horrifying images that are practically guaranteed to give you nightmares, then Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy will probably not be your cup of tea. These are not your typical brainless (ba-dum-ching) zombie novels, but if you’ve ever wondered how life might change if the zombie apocalypse were to occur, love a good government conspiracy, and enjoy books with twists so unexpected that you can’t help but giving them a stern talking to and/or throwing them at a wall, well then, Feed and Deadline (and the forthcoming Blackout) are most certainly the books for you.
The Best of Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Santa was good to me this year when he brought me this book. The prose is so incredibly lush, the characters so delightful, and the plot so captivating and unique, that the only word that accurately describes how wonderful it is is delicious. And for once, a multi-dimensional antagonist who isn’t simply bad because she is the villain and that is how they are, no questions asked (*cough* Disney villains *cough*). If that weren’t wonderful enough, it has these gorgeous line drawings at the start of every chapter. Am I the only one who thinks more novels ought to have illustrations? Seriously, they’re not just for picture books.