This one is definitely in my top five overall for the year. It may even be the best. I struggled with putting this in adult fiction or in speculative fiction, because it reads more like an adventure/survival book than it does a science fiction book. But it's also set on the surface of Mars, so I wound up deciding to feature it here. Basically, an astronaut is trapped on Mars and has to figure out how to survive until NASA figures out a way to rescue him.
You can also find this one on my list of audiobooks, but it deserves a place here as well. It's about a terrifying post-apocalyptic world where opening your eyes can drive you to suicide and murder and a mother who wants something better for her children.
Another post-apocalypse story, this time in a world whose population and culture has been decimated by a plague. It was particularly harrowing to read this fall during the panic surrounding ebola. I can't say enough good things about the writing and the plot itself.
I don't usually read straight-up paranormal horror, but this one was absolutely impossible to resist. The book is designed to resemble an Ikea catalog and features illustrations of progressively disturbing products. It's worth reading for the design alone, but the story is also compelling. I'll be so disappointed if I don't get a sequel next year.
Not really a dystopia and not really a post-apocalypse, this is really just a somewhat bleak imagining of our world's future, particularly in the East. We move from India to Africa and follow a young girl's search for her birth mother. It's one of the more difficult books I read this year, but also one of the most rewarding.
I'm not even going to try to describe this one because of spoilers, but trust me when I say that it's a must-read if you're fans of post-apocalyptic settings, horror, or suspense. It fits all three categories quite well.
Another candidate for top five overall, this is probably the most beautiful writing I read this year. It fits into the speculative category because the main characters are mythical immigrants to New York City (a golem and a jinni), but it would work just as well in literary fiction. The story is moving but the real star is the writing.
The first in the Southern Reach series, this one is honestly hard to sub-classify within speculative fiction without having finished the series (the second two books are waiting for me at the library right now). It has adventure and conspiracy and mysterious disappearances from Area X, where our main characters are sent to try to discover why all other expeditions have failed.