Thursday, December 13, 2012

Best Fantasy and Speculative Fiction of 2012

So, new-ish to Book Hooked Blog this year, I'm doing a list of the best books I read by genre.  I figured trying to narrow it down to overall best books of the year, even if I separate fiction and non-fiction just doesn't do justice to what I've read.  So I'm going to have a series that'll run through the end of the year (with a few reviews thrown in to start me off in January with a clean slate).  Beware, in order to do this, I'll be posting every single day for the rest of the year.  Oh and just for fun, I'll also be throwing in a Worst Books of the Year post.

I haven't read enough fantasy in the past to justify an entire list of the year's best, but this year has been an amazing year for me in terms of fantasy.  It's become something that Luke and I really connect over and can discuss and read together.  And a lot of is actually very good.  I had some preconceived notions based on cover art, but I'm finally getting over that.  So here it is, the best fantasy and speculative fiction I read in 2012. 
This one is included because of its amazing writing.  I wasn't enthralled by the story, but I was blown away by the author's talent.  I recommend it to all aspiring writers.

This was one of my first audiobooks of the year and the two narrators really made the book for me.  It's one I'll definitely reread in print, but I loved the audio version.

Second book in the Divergent Series - I bought this one the minute I woke up on release day and read it under my desk at work frantically.  Finished it that night.

Read this one for the Sony Reader Club.  I haven't reviewed it yet, but my review for it will be posted by the end of the year.  It's one I never planned to read but I'm so glad I did.

This is another that I haven't yet reviewed because it hasn't yet been released.  I can't resist a good evil children story and this provided it.  I'll be writing a full review in early January when the book is officially released.

And a third that I have yet to post a review of.  This one, like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, should be up before the end of the year.  It's a very literary tale of a post-apocalyptic world, my favorite kind of speculative fiction.

These last three represent my very favorite fantasy/speculative fiction reads of the year.  They are all series that I absolutely devoured.  I'm using the first book from each series to represent, but there's no way I could break them into individual books.  And the best part?  All three series are complete, so you can read the whole thing without any cliff hangers.

The Seven Realms Series
Another to-be-reviewed by the end of the year.  This is a four book YA series that was recommended by many of the nesties, but was really pushed to me by one of my favorite people, Joyce.  Also, shout out to Lauren who loaned me most of the series on ebook so I didn't have to wait for library holds.  One final note on the series - Luke has also read them and enjoyed them.  They've got good range.

The Queen's Thief Series
I cannot rave about these books enough.  They are technically middle grade, although I think they are equally appealing to teens and adults.  These would make amazing read aloud books.  They're also amazing to read on your own. 

The Mistborn Series
Definitely my favorite series of the year and quite possibly one of my Top Ten Cross-Genre favorites.  Like The Queen's Thief, this one has a great potential for cross-over.  It's intended for adults, but I think most teens could handle it.  Sanderson is a Mormon and his books do not include the typical sex and gore found in lots of fantasy.  Bonus: Vin, our main character, is one of my all-time favorite feminist-friendly/amazingly non-sexualized female characters.


Special mention:
Luke got me a signed copy of this one and it is amazing.  Nothing left to say.

So, Reader Friends, any changes you'd make to my list?  What blew your mind in the fantasy/speculative fiction genre this year?  Anything I missed that I should add to the list for next year?

15 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post - I'm quite new to fantasy but enjoying it so far and always on the look out for more recommendations!

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    1. Well, obviously I think all of these are amazing, but I think if you're new to fantasy you'd really enjoy The Queen's Thief series to start with!

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  2. Wow, posting every day.. you are my blogging hero, LOL!!! I like the idea of starting with a fresh slate in January... I need to get some older reviews done even if they're short.

    I really don't read much of this genre at all, but I do want to get to The Night Circus one of these days.

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    1. It's only through the end of the year! No way I'll be able to keep it up long term, but I'm so anxious to start January without any overdue reviews.

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  3. This is a genre I have not tried. I like your post.

    Reading a book under your desk is so funny, lmao, love that.

    I look forward to your reviews and Uninvited looks great.

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    1. Marce, I think you'd really like the Mistborn books. Or, for a more literary fantasy, anything by Patrick Rothfuss. I discovered him last year and love the Kingkiller Chronicles.

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  4. Speaking as someone who's writing a fiction-fantasy book, what do you feel is something you look into when judging a piece from this genre?

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    1. I love this question! When I'm looking at fiction and fantasy, I'm mainly looking for a great story. Something original that explores a topic that isn't in every other book out there or, if it does include, let's say, zombies, it takes a unique point of view or is written in an original voice.

      As far as the writing itself is concerned, world building is what I value most. I want a complete world that makes sense. One of my pet peeves in fantasy is a plot that focuses so much on romance and leaves out defining the history, geography, politics, etc of the fantasy world. In addition, I like to see authors SHOW us their world building, not just TELL us. My absolute least favorite trope is the classroom setting - where a character is "taught" the history of the world as we listen.

      Also, characterization is important, as in any fiction. I like works that avoid insta-love and that don't sexualize all female characters (Misborn is the best at this). If you're writing a female warrior type who does all of her fighting in a leather bikini, I'm going to be turned off. Make it believable.

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  5. I am SO glad you read DoSaB and loved it!

    I think I'll have to check out The Queen's Thief series..looks interesting!

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    1. YES! My life will not be complete until I have convinced others to read The Queen's Thief. It's so very good!

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  6. Great list!! I have that Patrick Rothfuss, and it's brilliant.

    looking at the rest of your list, I can hear my "books I want to read" list explode. . .

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    1. Love to hear this! Let me know if you read and review any of them - I love hearing what others think!

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  7. Kind of creepy an adult only reads young adult titles. Well, except for one.

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    1. David, I'm not entirely sure I understand your comment, but I think you're saying that you find it creepy that I, as an adult, only read YA?

      I'm not even going to argue with you about the legitimacy of adults reading YA. But, I do feel like I ought to correct you in your statement that all of these but one are YA, for the sake of other readers, because some of these are very much NOT YA books.

      Adult titles that I would not recommend for YA readers:
      The Uninvited
      White Horse

      Adult Title that may have crossover appeal to YA readers:

      The Mistborn Series
      The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle


      The YA-specific books on this list are:
      The Night Circus
      The Scorpio Races
      Daughter of Smoke and Bone
      Insurgent
      The Seven Realms Series
      The Queen's Thief Series

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  8. Woohoo!! I loved book pushing Seven Realms to you.

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