Sunday, December 4, 2011

Verdicts for 2011 - The Awards

It's now December, and I'm thinking back over the year. There were books I surprisingly enjoyed, books I finally got around to, books I wish I hadn't bought, books I wish I'd read sooner - The usual, I guess. According to my Goodreads account, this year I'll have read almost 100 books, if not that figure exactly. I didn't get to read as many releases this year as I'd hoped to, instead I was mostly catching up on things I hadn't yet read, but also the books that came before this year's releases if they were part of an existing series. I found some great books, and some that weren't so great, but I've enjoyed most of them. This has also been the first year in which I've had reviews published on popular genre sites, I did my first interview with an author, and one signed to a major genre publisher at that, as well as a few other little things here and there.

If I can, I'll link to my Goodreads reviews, no matter how brief they are. I read many of these books with no intention of reviewing them properly, and in the case of one book I was too lost for words to do it any justice.

2011 Awards

Best Sci-Fi
Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) - James S.A. Corey
Goodreads Review
Written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under a shared name, Leviathan Wakes was a stand-out book for me. It combined mystery and aspects of detective novels with some military themes, and the product was a very strong read with some great characters. It was vivid, it was compelling and it showed great promise for future iterations. It wasn't perfect, the horror aspects weren't that strong in my opinion, but aside from that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Best Fantasy - Tied
I could not decide which of these two books was most deserving of "Best Fantasy", because both had an emotional hold over me and still do. I was absolutely enamoured with each one, and I think it only fair for them to share it.

The Snow Queen's Shadow (Princess series #4) - Jim C. Hines
Goodreads Review (Brief)
The Snow Queen's Shadow is the final book in Hines' excellent Princess series, one I followed since early last year after a recommendation, and it blew me away. It was touching, it was emotional and it was incredibly well-written. Most of all, it was a fitting end to what had been a largely high quality series, and I don't regret even one minute of that experience.

Huntress - Malinda Lo
Goodreads Review 
Huntress is a sequel to 2010's Ash, but the links are fairly minor so one could say it's more akin to a spin-off. Unlike that book, however, Lo isn't restricted to the structure or style of fairy tales and it allows her to bring Huntress out into something deeper, with better pacing and more interesting characters. It was a book I devoured in no time at all, and it was one I thought about for a long while after I finished the last page. At its simplest, it's an engrossing story with a beautiful romance that flowers into something touching and emotional.

Best Graphic Novel
Anya's Ghost - Vera Brosgol
Goodreads Review (Brief)
I came across Anya's Ghost thanks to a preview on, I believe, and I fell in love with the preview. I quickly went and placed my order, and the day it came I went from start to finish in an evening. It was a very, very enjoyable read. The art was cute and worked really well, but it never took away from the story, and vice versa. I also liked how the themes went deeper than they appeared to be, and as such it offers some good views on bullying, friends, teen life as a whole, but also integration into a new country and a new culture, especially at the volatile high school age.

I would urge anyone who likes comics, graphic novels or even just YA fiction to pick this up, because it's nothing short of beautiful.
Most Disappointing
Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) - Mark Lawrence
Goodreads Review 
Unlike many of my peers, I didn't like this book all that much. I was quite hyped for it, too, as it was getting good reviews, it had been part of a UK-wide promotion in Waterstone's and it was shaping up to be a good read, and I even though the author seemed a decent chap. Instead, what I got was a book that pushed the limits of my taste and my patience. The portrayal of women was shocking, the writing was average at best, and overall I felt disappointed that my experience was vastly different to that of many others. I could see where the book got praise, I understood why some people liked it, but to me it just wasn't what I'd call a fun read.

My not-quite-review got a few comments on Goodreads, and actually caused quite the heated discussion on SFFWorld, and looking back I was a little harsh, but aren't we all when we have such a disappointing book? I've had some people, including reviewers, turn around and say they agreed with me, at least on some level, whereas others have been less thrilled by my review. I wrote it with perhaps a little too much emotion behind it, but upon reading it since I feel that I could add no more to the discussion. I was disappointed, and if I'm honest I was a little shocked.

And there we have it, my 2011 awards. I'm sure many will disagree with my choices, but these are the only titles that really deserved such a prominent mention. Most of what I've read from this year was good, but it never grabbed me or affected me like the titles above, or in the case of sci-fi, I just hadn't really read all that much from this year.

1 comment:

  1. I keep on hearing such good things about Leviathan Wakes, I really must make the effort to read it before year end.