Sunday, December 27, 2009
I've been seeing "best of" lists popping up all over the place, so I'm a little late in getting mine up. And normally I might forgo the list altogether, but there have been a few really terrific books released this last year, so I feel somewhat compelled to mention them here-- just in case you missed them. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (review HERE) This is, by far, my favorite book of the year. If you haven't heard about this wonderful steampunk/zombie mash-up then you're not paying attention. Priest has been getting praise all over the book review blogs and it is well deserved. This book is so original and entertaining. The alternative history and steampunk elements are intriguing and well done. And did I mention the zombies? If you're even slightly inclined to read fantasy, you should like this book. Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson (review HERE) I really debated on whether or not to list this one as my #1, and "Boneshaker" only wins because of it's pure entertainment value. However, "Julian Comstock" would win if this was a contest based on the depth of the story. This is such a well written, thoughtful book. It's not one of those books that hits you left-and-right with a ton of action. Instead it's incredibly charming, humorous and more than a little bittersweet. I've heard people describe this book as somewhat anti-religious but I disagree. I think this is really a book that questions anything, be it religion or government, that is too heavy-handed. It's not a preachy book at all. It gently probes big issues and it's done in such a subtle way. Wilson never goes with one dimensional characters, nor does he take the easy way out with plot devices. Just a brilliant book in my opinion. Fire by Kristin Cashore (review HERE) I don't read a lot of teen fiction but the premise of this book really intrigued me. Written as a prequel to Graceling it can be read without any knowledge of Cashore's other book (as was the case for me). Like "Boneshaker" this one is very inventive. I won't go into a full synopsis, that's what the link to the review is for. Let me just say that this is a book about beauty and it's ability to cloud all judgement-- though in this case it's magically augmented. I can't say "Fire" is deep, but it is really hard to put down. Nicely romantic without going into bosom-heaving territory, it appeals to my girlish side. Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe I don't have a review up for this one yet-- I just finished it a short while ago. But I have to put on my list simply because it's part of such a great series. If James Bond was a P.I. in a sword and sorcery setting-- this is what it would look like. Eddie LaCrosse is one of those characters that's convincing as a bad-ass, but has the underlying conscience to stay likable. Lots of action and fast dialog, the book is fun and yet manages to throw in enough deeper plot elements to keep in interesting. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (review HERE) I haven't seen "Warbreaker" on a lot of 'best of' lists and I'm not sure if it's because the book came out early enough in the year to be forgotten, or if it's because it's not Brandon Sanderson's best work. (I think "Elantris" is still my favorite). Nonetheless, I think it's a great book. Like all of Sanderson's work, it's main feature is a unique magical system and likable characters. Some say he is the heir to David Eddings as far as his style goes, though I think his work doesn't tend to be overly precious, which was my main complaint about Eddings. Nowadays Sanderson is busy finishing up "The Wheel of Time" series now that Robert Jordan has passed away, but his stand-alone work is certainly worth a look. There's a few other books I've started but haven't had the chance to finish that I'm sure would make the list-- including Lamentation by Ken Scholes and The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V. S. Redick, but I have to finish those before I can officially add them to my list. Anyway, that's my list. I hope you like them too.