The year is almost at a close and the holidays are upon us—which means it’s time to evaluate the books we’ve read over the last 12 months and reflect on our favorites of the year. (Ana did that last week.)
For me, however, it also is a time of panic.
Because, you see, the end of the year also means that I have run out of time; the jig is up, and there are literally hundreds of amazing SFF novels and stories and comics that I have failed to read. (They are all sitting on my shelves—virtual and physical—looking dusty and forlorn and accusatory.)
This is my holiday present, my mea culpa to those books—a list of the best SFF books of 2014...that I haven’t read. Yet.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This book has popped up on everyone’s Best of 2014 list (including Kirkus’ list), and was a National Book Award finalist for the year. A hopeful post-apocalypse is hard to come by, but Station Eleven is meant to weave threads of science fiction, art, and humanity in a moving, craftily-told novel. If there’s one book I’m racing to read before the year is up, it’s this one.
Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho. A collection of Malaysian-inspired short stories, from a Chinese-Malaysian author living in London, Spirits Abroad blends the mundane with the fantastical—including stories about homework, love, eating people, landlord negotiations, and so on.
A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani. Oh my goodness. I ignored The School For Good and Evil (Book 1 in this planned middle grade trilogy) when it came out in 2013 because I was leery of its potentially didactic and dichotomous premise—in which some children are sent to a school for “Good” (pretty princesses, handsome knights) or “Evil” (ugly witches, hideous warlocks)—but I’m reading it right now and holy moly, it’s awesome. Book 2, A World Without Princes, came out in 2014 and it is immediately moving to the top of my to be read list.
The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler. The second book in the Shadow Campaigns series, The Shadow Throne is the follow-up act to The Thousand Names—a truly excellent flintlock (military) fantasy novel on an epic scale. I loved book one, with its fascinating cast of main characters and military-formation/strateg focused action, and can only cite my own laziness for not getting around to book two this year.
Above by Isla Morley. Another post-apocalyptic, literary/SFF crossover novel! Above is the story of a girl who is abducted, imprisoned and escapes her captor to find the world destroyed. I was hesitant to read this book because of the comparisons to Emma Donoghue’s Room (which is a tough act for anyone to follow)—but I think I’m ready to give this one a read.
Unravel by Imogene Howson. Another second book in a series! I loved Linked, the first book in this YA future dystopian world, where twins are separated at birth and used as psychic batteries of sorts. Unravel continues the story of sisters Elissa and Lin as they fight The Man and pursue truth and freedom—although the book has received mixed reviews, I’m still all in.
Lockstep by Karl Schroeder. It’s not often that I learn about a hard science fiction novel that features cold, slow travel and society built around the framework of long periods of sleep, modulated by brief coordinated periods of wake over decades and centuries. Lockstep is that book and is supposed to be a hard sci-fi/young adult/anthropological fiction–lover’s dream.
The Forever Watch by David Ramirez. Speaking of science fiction, this title had one of my favorite cover art images of 2014 (the U.K. edition, that is). A book set on a generational ship that inches its way through the cold vacuum of space, The Forever Watch is part murder mystery, part tale about secrets and The Greater Good. I hear it’s fantastic, and I must read it soon.
The Falconer by Elizabeth May. The story of a fairy-killing Scottish debutante in 1844 Edinburgh, The Falconer blends Scotts mythology and history with a fantastical high-society twist. I’ll have to catch up on this one before book 2 comes out in 2015.
Ms. Marvel: Volume 1 (Meta Morphosis) by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Ms. Marvel got a reboot this year, in the form of a Jersey City teenager named Kamala Khan—a Muslim Pakistani-American who suddenly is the recipient of superpowers. I can’t find a single thing not to love in that premise.
And that’s it from me: the list of 2014 books I desperately want to read, but haven’t read yet. Any others I’ve missed?