Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016: A Year In Review: The Reading

Well, I think the vast majority of us can agree that 2016 was a shit year. Like a really shit year that even in it's waning days seems to want to keep dumping on us relentlessly. A lot of us are still reeling from November, trying to sort out what, if anything, we can do in the next four years. But I'm not here to do this, I'm here to review what happened to me in 2016. I spent most of the year doing monthly reviews of what I did each month but I stopped for reasons I'll get to in my writing post. So, what did I read?

I managed to read 81 books this year. That was 21 more than I intended and abandoned my "Epic" notions early on. I may try to wedge in a few more graphic novels (which accounted for the majority of my reading this year) in before the end of the year, so we'll see what my final total is. So, here's my Best Of 2016 list:

  • AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir: Everything that good YA fantasy can be and a cracking good epic fantasy that'll never get the credit it deserves for telling a great story. It relies on a lot of the same tropes we've seen before, but Tahir's execution is damn near flawless. The sequel is high on my 2017 list. 
  • SAGA, VOLUMES 3-6 by Brian K. Vaughan: A stunning science fantasy that is already a modern classic. A star spanning story that at its core is about family. 
  • BINTI by Nnedi Okorafor: What a beautiful, lyrical story. I was drawn into the world Okorafor built and the character she created in Binti, who reminded me of many of the students I teach.
  • THE FORGETTING MOON by Brian Lee Durfee: In a year where I said I was going to focus on reading epic fantasy where I didn't read as much epic fantasy as I wanted, this was an epic fantasy I not only read but loved. Durfee created a vivid world that was familiar and new at the same time.
  • PAPER GIRLS, VOL 1 by Brian K. Vaughan: Brilliant. That's all I can say about it. It's one of those things that I love because I feel like it's something I could've come up with. Great science fictiony fun. 
  • GI JOE: COBRA: THE LAST LAUGH by Mike Costa and Christos Gage: A GI Joe story that wasn't like any GI Joe story ever. Outstanding Bourne-esque spy action. 
  • HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION by Lin-Manuel Miranda: What kind of Best of 2016 list would it be if Lin-Manuel weren't on it. I love Hamilton and the story behind the story is fascinating on it's own. Seeing how Miranda crafted this story helped me understand so much about telling a story. 
  • HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne and J.K. Rowling: It felt good to be back in Potterland but as good as it was it missed Rowling's voice. Still one of the year's best though. 
  • THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zenter: I single served this book in August and I'm still dealing with aspects of that book. Great characters, terrific voice and a well-developed setting make this easily one of my top two or three for the year. 
  • THE WOODS, VOL. 1-4 by James Tynion: Probably my favorite of the year. A mind blowing concept (and another one I feel like I could and should have come up with) about a high school getting transported to another planet. I could not get enough of this series and it's intensely well done. Brilliant characters and world building combine with brilliant storytelling to make it something special. 
  • ENVY OF ANGELS by Matt Wallace: Brilliant modern fantasy fun involving monster chickens, fast food and a Guy Fieri expy that I don't want to punch. 
HONORABLE MENTION: DREAM LAND by Sam Quinones; AMERICAN NATIONS by Colin Woodard; BIRTHRIGHT VOL 1-3 by Joshua Williamson; STAR WARS: CATALYST by James Luceno.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: INSURGENT and ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth; STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson; THE IRON TRIAL by Holly Black and Cassandra Claire; THE DRAGONLANCE TRILOGY VOL. 2 & 3; RED QUEEN by Veronica Aveyard.

This year, I'm plotting about 70 books, trying to focus on epics to deconstruct them so I can get back into writing them. But I have some books I'm really looking forward to reading in 2017, here are three that I'm really stoked about reading sooner than later:

  • ROYAL BASTARDS by Andrew Shvarts: A book not unlike my SEASONS books, I'm really looking forward to see what this book does that mine didn't. Already have an ARC locked and loaded for 2017. 
  • THE WALL OF STORMS by Ken Liu: I already read a version of it but not for review and I didn't get a chance to read it this year, so I'll be reading it early 2017. 
  • PAPER GIRLS VOL. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn
  • THE WOODS VOL 5 by James Tynion
  • THE SHADOW THAT WAS LOST by James Islington
  • RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey

I didn't include obvious ones like the next ICE AND FIRE book (and I know that including Lynch in the list above is dicey, but I wanted to include it) but that's where I stand. 

Tomorrow, I'll talk about Writing in 2016 and what I'm planning in 2017. 

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