Because all of life is stories.
I’m a few days late, but it’s been a busy week. The calendar has once again turned over to a new year, and it’s time for my year of reviews in review. As with last year, not everything I review or choose is going to have been published in the year 2014, the pool is from the books I’ve managed to somehow read for the first time this year. Normally it’s a Top 5 sort of thing, but this was just a phenomenal year of books. So we’re at a Top 7 today.
So, in no particular order:
I was kind of burned out on dystopian fiction. But Red Rising was all over my social media for weeks. I picked up a copy to read on a break between classes one day and got hooked five chapters in. I bought it immediately and rifled through. It takes all the best parts of Ender’s Game, Divergent, and The Hunger Games and combines them, on Mars. Every word Pierce Brown writes just drips with drama and on almost anyone else I feel like ti would become annoying and cloying after awhile. With Brown, it just makes everything better.
Darrow, Mustang, and especially Sevro are a few of my new favorite characters of all time. It is brutal. There’s a reason they put this in the adult SFF section and not the YA. But the ride is thrilling. Golden Son, the sequel, is set to release two days from now. I’ve read an ARC of it. It takes the whole thing and adds a space opera vibe. Get on this train.
The Mirror Empire
Kameron Hurley is one of the most exciting new writers I’ve come across in awhile. New is a relative term, as she’s been writing for years, but this is the first I’ve read of her. The Mirror Empire is the first in her new fantasy series, and it’s one of the most creative worlds I’ve ever come across. It’s a multiverse spanning fantasy epic that takes care to include badass female characters, fluid gender identities (Some more biologically literal than others), a societal taboo against touching without consent, and a few scenes that I am absolutely sure are there at least partially to reverse the trope of men treating women like property.
I loved every minute of Hurley’s new work, even the parts that infuriated me. She’s a star in the making. I’ll absolutely be grabbing her God’s War trilogy this year.
Words of Radiance
This really needs to stop being a “Brandon Sanderson is an awesome writer” blog. This year though, he wrote his best book to date.
Words of Radiance is the second installment of The Stormlight Archive, and sequel to The Way of Kings. I loved WoK. I thought that it launched a series that had the potential to become one of the greatest in the history of fiction. Let me tell you this: If the rest of the series is as good as Words of Radiance was, it will be. It will be better than The Wheel of Time. It will be better than The Lord of the Rings. It won’t be as important to the genre as LOTR, but by the gods it could be a better series when all is said and done.
I don’t throw down that praise lightly. And I’m sure I’ll be thought less of for even thinking of comparing The Stormlight Archive to two of the biggest and baddest fantasy series of all time.
But it’s just that good.
This is one I managed to get an actual review up for this year. I read Andy Weir’s webcomic Casey & Andy for the longest time, and was heartbroken when he decided to end it. Especially since I lost track of his work after that. The Martian is about a guy who finds himself trapped alone on Mars and without a radio after a storm forces his team to abandon their mission. It’s full of heart, black humor, and fun science. I can’t wait to see what’s next from him, and it’s great to see him getting acclaim after all this time.
This one was a surprise. I knew about it because I’ve had it recommended to me for years. I had no idea what I was missing. The snark and wit of the main characters is enough to love the book. The story, the ridiculous villains, and the general awesomeness of this book was enough to make me order the other eight books in the series.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
Locke Lamora. Locke fucking Lamora. If there is a series that exists that is more ridiculously fun than Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards then I haven’t read it yet. Send it to me. Please. The Lies of Locke Lamora follows the lives of the titular Locke Lamora and his band of thieves, the best of the best in a country renowned for its organized crime. A charming rogue, Lamora and his gang are compelled into assisting an outsider proclaiming himself “The Grey King” with the destruction of Camorr’s crime bosses. The only problem is that Locke is himself one of these crime bosses, and relied upon to defend the same group he’s been forced to destroy. Meanwhile he’s busy trying to pull off the biggest con of his career.
The world of Locke Lamora is astoundingly realized. The religion, the gentry, the cultures and classes that Lynch breathes into life are compelling and feel more real than any dozen other series. And the swearing. Oh Lord the swearing. It’s lovely. I can’t recommend a book about objectively horrible people more enthusiastically.
Locke & Key
The lovechild of Gabriel Rodriguez and Joe Hill, Locke & Key is a phenomenal mixture of lovecraftian darkness with Joe Hill’s trademark creep. Following the story of a family consumed by tragedy Locke & Key manages to be delightfully creepy while still managing to tell a touching story of family overcoming adversity, forgiveness, and redemption. Filled with unlikely heroes Locke & Key is a fascinating look beyond the veil and every bit as accomplished as celebrated works like Watchmen and Gaiman’s Sandman.
Things I’m Looking Forward To In 2015
I’m just gonna go ahead and work from the assumption that The Doors of Stone and Skybreaker won’t be out this year. So let’s look at some other things I’m waiting for in 2015 with bated breath.
The Skull Throne
The penultimate installment of Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle series. It’s been a breath of fresh air in the fantasy world ever since The Warded Man came out. I finished his newest novella, Messenger’s Legacy, just a few days ago and my love of this series has been rekindled. Thankfully, I only have to wait three months for this one.
The Thorn of Emberlain
Book four of seven in Scott Lynch’s aforementioned Gentleman Bastards series. More creative swearing? More Locke? More Jean? More Sabetha? Sign me up. Hopefully out by the end of the year.
The Dinosaur Lords
Even if it isn’t good, that title means I give it a shot. Think Game of Thrones but with raptors instead of horses.
Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning
Brandon Sanderson finally has the next book in the Mistborn series finished. And the one after that. Both should be out this year. BOTH. I AM EXCITED. This means more of the western age Mistborn books and that the next Mistborn book will be the start of a new trilogy. Whether that ends up being set in the 20’s, 50’s, or 80’s equivalent of our world he hasn’t decided, but DAMN I AM EXCITED INTERNET.
(Upon rechecking his blog Shadows of Self should be out in October while Bands of Mourning will be out in January. Still, 4 months between books? Hells yes.)
The next in Kameron Hurley’s fantasy series that began with The Mirror Empire is due out late this year. More amazing characters, incredible worlds, and really really cool magic to look forward to.
These are just a few of the books due out in what looks like another banner year for SFF. I’m beyond excited for it. As an aside, it’s also going to be a year where I consciously decide to read more female writers and writers of color. This blog is too full of white dudes. Awesome writers for sure, but we need diverse books, and I’ve got a few