The end of the year means best of and worst of lists – yay! I’m a big time reader of sci-fi and fantasy and YA sci-fi and fantasy. I will read the trashiest shit I can find simply because it has a sword or a wizard on the front. Once, I found this book with elephant sized otters on the front with swords and horns and a woman in a fur bikini – I didn’t care what it was about. I just knew I wanted to be that when I grew up. Anyway, here are my top 5 picks of the year – keep an eye out for my top 5 most god awful steaming piles of otter shit later this month.
1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I know, I’m late on the uptake since this came out in 2007. I dragged my heels because it seemed as though Rothfuss suffered from George R.R. Martin syndrome and the second book was never, ever coming out. But once Wise Man’s Fear got an official pub date, I tore the hell into this book and loved every second. Other than Jacqueline Carey (who’s is my all time favorite fantasy writer ever) this is the best fantasy novel I have read in years. It’s very much a world building and character study book. I’ll be honest – not a whole lot happens. But what this book might lack in epic swashbuckling and lots of sex with wenches, it more than makes up for in depth and intricacy.
2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. This one came out in 2009 but I read it in early 2010. This is my best YA fantasy pick. Graceling is a deceptively easy read – don’t take it for granted. A young girl is her uncle’s trained strong arm and assassin – her “grace” is the art of fighting and killing. No one does it better than her. A grace is a gift – the ultimate proficiency in one specific area. There’s adventure, romance, compassion, and a villain who is terribly chilling, but through it all, this is a story about gaining self confidence and a strong identity. Geek girl power!
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Go read all three Hunger Games books right now if you haven’t already. Sure, Collins borrows heavily from Takami’s Battle Royale but her characters have greater depth and more intricate backstories, which makes them easily relatable. I thought Katniss and Peeta had suffered quite enough in Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I didn’t think it could get any worse, but oh how very wrong I was. What I like best about Mockingjay is Collins’ development of side characters. If you don’t love Finnick O’Dair by the end of Mockingjay, you have a cold heart. Also, the end bitchslapped me 10 ways to next Tuesday, and I liked it.
4. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. The third book – Monsters of Men just came out in October. It’s really hard to describe these books because so much of the story is dialect and font – I know, weird. This is the story of Todd – the youngest boy in a colony of men where all of the women have died and all of the men can hear each others’ thoughts all the time. One day, Todd goes out with his dog and finds… a girl. Some pretty fucked up hijinx ensue. This series also has a villain who will give you the shivers. I was a little underwhelmed with the third book, but it was left open ended and I hope Ness returns to this world.
5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I didn’t even know this book existed until I saw trailers for the movie. And then I had to read it. This is not a book to read for funsies. None of the characters are really likeable. Even the narrator is just kind of there. But it will make you question what it means to be human and have an identity. This is very subtle sci-fi bordering on horror, wrapped in a coming of age story and you won’t even realize you were freaked out until you’re done.