My original plan, as threatened in last week’s podcast/film/music summary, was to dig into my favourite books and comics of the year in this single post. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (me banging on for too long), I am going to leave this one with just the books and return to the comics at a later date. Probably quite a soon later date, as I still harbour the ambition of getting these blog posts out before 2014 itself ends, and I still gotta do the TV as well.
If you want to see how my tastes have evolved, you can consult the 2013 equivalent of this blog post. For now, though, let’s dig into the best printed prose stories of the year, most of which I read digitally.
YA – Why, eh?
My major shift in books-direction this year was to start reading YA, because I’ve begun to socialise with a lot of YA-likers and also (inevitably) started to wonder if I could write it myself. So, if anyone else wants a good entry point, I’ll lay out the best of my mostly-scifi/fantasy sampling.
I’ve read The City’s Son and The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock, the first two in his Skyscraper Throne trilogy set in a fantastical London. Although the first one is a strong opening adventure that set out a potentially fascinating world, the second was a year-highlight, a genuinely excellent emotional journey through cool concepts that I’d recommend to anyone. Must track down the third one. (By which I mean: I’ll buy it when it gets cheaper on Kindle.)
Elsewhere in the YA exploration, Pantomime by Laura Lam is a lovely, fragile book about Micah Grey, a teen coming to terms with his own identity under confusing circumstances – and also set in a circus. Control by Kim Curran is the sequel to her alternate-reality-wrangling scifi book Shift, and in a similar way to the Tom Pollock series, the first one does some interesting world building, but the second is the one which really made me pay attention. Happily, the third and final part is coming soon.
Also read The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black, about magical con-men, and although they never quite top the excellent first book, it’s all an exciting adventure.
At the younger end of the target-age spectrum, but also among the most excellent: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens is a mega-likable school detective story and Close Your Pretty Eyes by Sally Nicholls is beautifully characterised and creepy. Very creepy.
Aged To Perfection
I’m going to creep back towards adult novels now, via the bridging method of fantasy author Joe Abercrombie. I read the last two books in his adult trilogy The First Law, as well as his new YA book Half A King this year and all were great. The biting wit and intense adventure are strong across the board.
Tore through The Cormorant, the most recent in Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black supernatural crime series too, and it’s the best one yet. The first two were fun adventures, but this third part was blow-me-away good, and I’m pleased to hear it should be continuing this year with Thunderbird. His urban fantasy book The Blue Blazes was fun too.
I also read Feed by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) and although I’ve not read her work before, I did enjoy the combination of genuinely creepy horror plotting and someone writing about the internet/blogging in a way that suggests they actually understand it. All too rare.
Getting into sundry other territory now, I also liked:
- The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, a sweet robot-romance by Cassandra Rose Clarke
- Fight Or Flight by Chele Cooke, the second in her Out Of Orbit scifi adventure series
- Deadlines, a weekly newspaper-crime serialised thriller by Chris Brosnahan
- Gun Machine, a heavily armed crime novel by noted comic writer Warren Ellis
- Mayhem, Jack-The-Ripper-esque gritty crime by Sarah Pinborough.
Phew. I read a lot of books this year, and that was just over a third of them.
I refrained from listing my own book, as that seemed like supreme arrogance, but if you want to see The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf on a similar list, you can head on over to Nimbus Space here. Just popping that in. Coming soon: the comics!