2013 was a low reading year for me. I only read 66 books, compared to my 119 of 2012. Seems pretty pitiful. I know it’s still more than most people read, but it makes my yearly round-up a bit harder to write. Fewer books read mean fewer books to choose from! Still, there were definitely some stand-outs. All links below lead to my reviews here at STACKED or to Goodreads.
Best Book of 2012
Nothing matches its depth, its plotting, its emotional resonance. This is a masterpiece.
Best Book of 2012: Runner-Up
Historical fiction and fantasy in one book? Yes, please. Great plotting, great romance, written by someone who isn’t afraid to have her protagonist do the unpleasant things that her world calls for.
Peterfreund channels Austen in the best possible way in this re-telling of Persuasion that’s less concerned with secrets and lies of the future world and more with the characters that inhabit it.
I excluded Grave Mercy from this category since it already won the (almost) grand prize, but I do consider it to be fantasy. Still, Vessel is a fantastic book with lovely writing, a sharply-realized setting, and an unconventional story. It’s also got one of the best covers of the year.
A terrific whodunnit with a unique and interesting (and tortured) protagonist.
This one takes the prize in part because I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I loved how Meadows expanded the history of her world and didn’t duck the hard questions.
Most Disappointing Sequel
This was just not a pleasant reading experience for me.
Best Start to a Series
OK, so it won’t win any awards for logical world-building. But I loved reading this book – it was twisty, interesting, and just really, really fun. I think sometimes when the word “fun” is applied to a book, it can seem like the book is ephemeral or nothing special, but Starters is special. It’s actually not all that easy to write such a fun book, and I wanted to mention it here in hopes others may pick it up and give it a try.
Hautman’s book turned me into one of those annoying readers who audibly exclaims “What?!” every ten pages, thus alarming those around her. I loved the risks this book took, that I never knew where it was going, that it shocked me and made me think. I loved that it was different without seeming to try to be different. This is one I love to recommend to others.
I had so many issues with this book. And yet…I still want to find out how DeStefano pulls everything together, so I’ll be reading the third book (or at least reading spoilers online).
Most Anticipated of 2013
I’m sure this is a surprise to no one.
Most Anticipated of 2013: Runners-Up
All sequels to books I thoroughly enjoyed in 2012 (or in the case of the Bradley, 2011).
This was a great year for historical fiction for me. Aside from just Code Name Verity and Grave Mercy, I also read and enjoyed Passion Blue, the Wicked and the Just, and Monstrous Beauty. All of these books merited four stars or higher from me. With the exception of Code Name Verity, these books also feature time periods I generally don’t seek out, but other aspects of the synopses convinced me to pick them up.
I’ve also been reading a lot more fantasy and SF that can’t be (or shouldn’t be) classified as dystopias. Some of the books I’ve written about above, but I wanted to also mention Insignia, Fair Coin, Shadows on the Moon, Black Heart, and Misfit. They’re all terrific books worthy of attention.
I was about to create a category for best non-genre book (genre here meaning fantasy, SF, mystery, etc.) and list Ask the Passengers there, but then I realized it was the only non-genre book I read this year. I’m actually not surprised by that. I’ve concentrated more on reading what I know I will like, and generally genre fiction is it. But I think this also says a lot about my respect for A. S. King as an author – I sought out her book even though it’s not something I normally read. And it was terrific.