Dunc reads: Book recommendations and best SF/F of 2010

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.

  1. 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.)
  2. 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 MaerlandeIn 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.)
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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?

9 thoughts on “Dunc reads: Book recommendations and best SF/F of 2010

  1. Nick1970

    Though it actually came out in late 2009, “The Strain”,
    part 1 of a new vampire trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck
    Hogan, was one of the most gripping books I read all year — very
    much an anti-“Twilight” as far as its vampires go… Part 2, “The
    Fall” (which I haven’t read yet) came out in 2010, and Part 3, “The
    Night Eternal” will be out later in 2011. Good stuff.

    Reply
  2. Erika (Jawas Read, Too)

    Look at you pimping my site without me even asking! Thank you. :D

    I take full responsibility for many people buying and/or reading Feed. I spread that sucker like the Kellis-Amberlee virus.

    Jo Walton’s recommendations are always so awesome! I bought Farthing and its sequels with Tooth & Claw because, like you, I figured it might be worth the investment. :D I’ll be reading all of this this year…

    I was so underwhelmed by the romance in the HG trilogy. Peeta didn’t grab my attention until he turned evil in the last one!

    Reply
  3. Kelly A.

    I loved Peeta! He was so sweet. But the Hunger Games trilogy as a whole was AMAZING. I can’t wait to see what they do with the movie.

    All the gals at work are reading the books and passing it around the way we did with Twilight. (but I find Collins a much better writer than Meyer).

    Reply
  4. jedifarfy

    I LOVED Hunger Games. The whole series will draw you in, make you read each in < 1 day, and leave you in a pile of gooey hopeful-sadness. It was so well done. I just read "Matched", which I heard was very good. It was, but nothing like Hunger Games.

    Added Feed and the Kingdom books to my list now. Gah, so much to read, so little time!

    Reply
  5. jawajames

    Having helped out with Del Rey at Comic-Con, the two big sellers complete with author signings for 2010 were “The Passage” by Justin Cronin and “Kraken” by China Mieville. Having read some of Mieville’s other works, i’m looking forward when it comes out in paperback…

    Reply
  6. Dunc Post author

    I read (and liked) The Passage. It’s not terribly groundbreaking, but it had some moments.

    Miéville does nothing for me, but it’s been a while since I tried any of his stuff.

    Reply
  7. Erika (Jawas Read, Too)

    @jawajames: I love China Miéville’s work. I’m making it my mission to read Kraken, Un Lun Dun and The Iron Council (the only three of his books I have yet to read) before Embassytown is released in May. :D

    Reply
  8. Erika (Jawas Read, Too)

    @jawajames: No matter how many times I tell myself not to do anything that requires thought beyond 11pm, I still do and look at me: I knew you knew that I loved Miéville (HELLO! autograph!). I blame the hour of day (1am!) and my lack of sleep for that goofy comment…

    Reply

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