Friday, 30 December 2016

The Best Books I Read in 2016

Since no individual can read all the books published in a single year, and since I know I missed several 'big' titles, this is a list of my favourite books I read this year, in the order I read them (and while most of them were published this year, not all of them were). Click the title links to see my reviews.

1. City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett - Technically I read this last year, but it came out in January, so I'm counting it here. The world-building is absolutely brilliant, and while it's good to read City of Stairs, you don't have to in order to understand what's going on in this book. I loved the characters and the story.

2. Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey - I don't read much urban fantasy as I found its tropes got repetitive fast. So this year was wonderful as several novels, including this one, simply didn't use those tropes. I found them refreshing and hope this trend continues. Spells of Blood and Kin had two estranged half-sisters getting to know each other in difficult circumstances, had a non obvious love interest and dealt with a unique magic system based on Russian witchcraft.

3. Borderline by Mishell Baker - I loved the amputee borderline personality disorder diagnosed protagonist. She was snarky and over the top. Not someone you'd like to meet in real life, but since you were seeing events from her POV, you got to understand why she was so mean to so many people. The fact that she joins a fairy policing shadow organization staffed by other people with similar issues made for a fascinating read.

4. Regeneration by Stephanie Saulter - This was the final volume of her ®Evolution trilogy. Start with Gemsigns. It's brilliant and talks about how societies reconcile with people its demeaned and harmed for decades. The Gems are genetically engineered humans, designed by corporations to work specific jobs. Now freed from their corporate overlords, not everyone is happy to see them integrating into the general population.

5. The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood - A talented artist, Lockwood's debut novel was a joy to read. It reminded me of the fantasy novels that sucked me into their realms when I was a teenager just discovering the genre. It did delve into some pretty dark territory, especially at the end, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

6. The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - This was a fantasy novel I didn't hear much buzz about, which is a shame, as it's fantastic. The magic system is based around dragon blood and there's a little bit of everything thrown in including a siege, navel battles, and dragon hunting.

7. Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley - Another book that got little attention, this was a book about a young woman who works cleaning chimneys in an alternate South Africa (according to the author the city is loosely based on Durban). I loved the interactions among the different social strata. The mystery was well done and kept me guessing.

8. The Death House by Sarah Pinborough - This book only had minimal SF elements, but the story of children stuck in a boarding house, waiting for a mysterious disease to kill them, was both horrifying and deeply depressing. But the author manages to infuse the story with hope.

9. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard - I loved this urban fantasy novel about an artist enclave that's touched by the fae. Another story about estranged sisters, this time ones with an overbearing and abusive mother, it touched me deeply on many levels.

10. Extreme Makeover by Dan Wells - This is probably the most original and yet strangely plausible apocalyptic novel I've read. The protagonist is the head chemist of a make-up company. When their new experimental product has unexpected side-effects, the powers that be decide to market it as a wonder product. But things go bad VERY quickly.

What are the best books you read this year?

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