I’ve been kicking the idea of a general genre book roundup for a while, and when I asked if anyone would be interested on Twitter I got several positive responses. Alas, some of them were folks asking for recommendations – while I was thinking of news roundups. So maybe we’ll try a little of both. (Don’t forget that Erika – who does book reviews for us, among other things – has her own book review blog over at Jawas Read Too.)
One of my favorite people for recommendations is Jo Walton and her posts at Tor.com. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve picked up because she wrote about them. Her latest entries include Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword and C.J. Cherryh’s Serpent’s Reach. Tor is a great blog if you’re looking for genre news and reviews, but Walton’s recs alone make it more than worth following.
But enough about praise for others… I’m sure what you really want to see are my opinions. I kid, but head beneath the cut for my fiction picks for 2010.
Note that by 2010 I mean things that I read in 2010. Some of these are older.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
There are two things that I really love in my fantasy fiction: Good female heroines and crafty worldbuilding. Jemisin knocks both out of the park in her debut novel. If you love epic fantasy that’s more than just swords and dragons, just read this book. (It’s first of a trilogy: The Broken Kingdoms just came out a few months back, and it’s pretty good, too.)
- The Maerlande Chronicles by Elisabeth Vonarburg
So remember up top when I was singing the praises of Jo Walton? Well, this is one of the books she profiled a few years back that I finally got around to picking up, and I loved it. There’s also nothing I can say that makes it sound any better than Walton does, so really just need to go read that. (The only thing I have to add is that Maerlande – In the Mother’s Land if you find the Bantam edition – is actually a sequel/companion to The Silent City. I read it first not even knowing the books were connected, but I suspect it would work just as well as a prequel.)
- The Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins
So I gave into the hype and picked up The Hunger Games to read on the flight to CV… And I was hooked. My first non-essential act upon returning was to get Catching Fire, and then Mockingjay came out a few weeks later. They’re fast-paced reads with a great lead and a great world. And yes, they’re dark, but they’re so damn good at it. (My only issues: I wanted to know more about the world as a whole… And I cannot stand the emphasis that fandom puts on the love triangle. Grr.)
- Farthing by Jo Walton.
I’ve practically turned into a Walton fangirl these days, so I figured I should actually read some of her books. This novel – set in a world where England made truce with Nazi Germany – doesn’t have much in the way of fantasy aside from the AU setting, but it’s a chilling murder-mystery. I’m particularly miffed that the sequel Ha’Penny is out of print, but Farthing stands well enough on its own.
- Feed by Mira Grant
Yeah, I’m kinda sick of zombies too. Okay, I’m really sick of zombies. But I was interested enough to pick this one up and I’m not sorry. (Blame Erika.) While some of the stuff early on about journalists and blogging made my eyes roll, once the story got going I was hooked. (First in a trilogy.)
- And since positive reviews are, uhh, not my most natural medium, I even have a handful of anti-recs: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Naomi Novik’s Tongues of Serpents.
If you’re looking for more recs, Erika wrote about her favorite books of 2010 – and what she’s looking forward to in 2011 – at The Book Smugglers. Meanwhile, io9 lists their 14 best speculative fiction books of 2010.
Check back Sunday for a roundup of actual genre book news. (There may be some TV/movie adaption stuff, but I can promise you it will be 100% Twilight free!) And in the meantime… What are your picks for the best non-Star Wars fiction of 2010?