2012 has been the worst year ever for me reading-wise. My concentration has been nonexistent and it takes me about 20 false starts to find a book I can finish. I have no particular excuse other than perhaps an excess of good fortune. I'll start to read a book and immediately become distracted by any new, shiny cover that shows up on my doorstep.
The worst thing about the reading-ADD I seem to have developed is that I can't stick with a book even when I know it's a good book. I've run into a lot of books over the last year that are well written and compelling and I have no good reason to put them down. I just do...
I think part of my problem is that I've spent the majority of the last 10 years reading for blogging purposes and now, when I approach a book, I look at it as a job rather than something I do for fun. I have also had the same frustration with almost every television show I try and have ended up stalling out on virtually everything. I haven't gone back to watch "The Walking Dead," "Falling Skies," "True Blood," or "Game of Thrones" even though I really enjoyed the first few episodes of all of them. The only show I have watched a full season of in the last few years is "Person of Interest"- though I did finally go back and watch "Sherlock" on Netflix.
So, rather than not mention all the good books I've had the opportunity to read this year, I'd like to list a few that made an impression and promise myself that come hell or high water I'm going to go back and finish them.
Pure by Julianna Baggot
Of all the books I picked up this year "Pure" made the largest impression. It's dystopian YA- but don't let that discourage you from picking it up by thinking it's like all the other books glutting the market right now. The basic premise is one in which the world has been torn apart by atomic detonations. There are two groups of people who survived the detonations: those inside a Dome that were protected from the blasts who remain pure and unblemished; and those whose bodies were torn apart and fused to objects or other living beings and frequently turned into monstrous creatures. It's a dark, intelligent book that is going to the top of my to-finally-finish pile this year.
Sharps by K.J. Parker
I'm almost loath to admit that I have never read a book by K.J. Parker as I have heard so many good things about her (or him) over the years. "Sharps" takes its name from a premise that heavily features a fencing competition as part of the storyline. It may sound dry if you haven't read they synopsis, but what I've read so far is full of devious politics, deft dialog and plenty of action. Definitely one to go back to.
Three Parts Deadby Max Gladstone
I picked this one up for the cover and wanted to stay for the story. It's almost hard to describe this book because it's not like anything I've ever read before. You have suit-wearing magical practitioners who have been hired to resurrect a murdered god. It sounds somewhat urban-fantasy in nature, but it doesn't have the first person narrative or the light-weight feel. The magic is unique and world-building, that I've seen so far, is first rate.
Dead Harvest (The Collector) by Chris Holm
The premise of "Dead Harvest" is very simple: the main character's job is to collect souls- until one day he comes across a soul he doesn't believe deserves to be sent to Hell and refuses to collect. Holm presents the story with a very cool noir feel and I'm sure that if I hadn't allowed myself to be distracted it would be one of those" quick, entertaining reads" I'm always hearing about.
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Generally speaking I'm pretty tired of both YA and vampire fiction, but I was intrigued enough to give "The Immortal Rules" a try and it's a book that I would like to finish. What makes "The Immortal Rules" different is a main character that doesn't want to be a vampire even though her life would be much easier if she embraced her blood-sucking impulses. There were some parts of the book that required some suspension-of-disbelief (mostly the ability to co-exist with humans who don't know her true nature) but Kagawa tells a pretty good story and I'd like to see how it ends.
Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards
This books has one of the best plots I've come across in a long time. Instead of boilerplate, militaristic grimdark fiction, you have the fantasy version of an embedded journalist sent with a hardened group of soldiers on a dangerous, covert mission. My favorite aspect of this story, so far, is the character of Captain Braylar (the leader of the warriors sent on the mission): he's well written, intelligent and not at all what I expected.
Low Town by Daniel Polansky
I'm actually reading "Low Town" right now and I'm enjoying the rare sensation of not having to force myself to continue. This is another book that can be put into the grimdark category but the only thing that has been mildly alarming so far is the language. "Low Town" is the story of The Warden: a former investigator turned criminal who ends up investigating the serial murders of young girls in his crime-ridden town. I don't really understand the cover of the book- it doesn't evoke the traditional fantasy feel of the story. But don't let that put you off- the writing is excellent and the characters are tailor-made for an ongoing series.
Wish me luck on my journey to get back into my fantasy reading groove. I'm hoping 2013 will be something of a fresh start for me. I've given myself a much needed breather for the last month and I'm looking forward to getting back to my regular blogging schedule.