I had so much fun reading in 2017: 50ish novels, 12 non-fiction prose books, 85 comic books and graphic novels, and an average rating of 3.4 stars. I also completed a big project to read and review every comic book in Civil War II, which was Marvel’s big event of the year. The event itself was bad, but the project was super fun and I learned a lot about criticizing comics.
I also started writing reviews this year, which changed the way I read for the better. Instead of reading something and coming to an intuitive like or dislike, when writing reviews I *have* to decide what worked for me and what didn’t. It’s made me a more critical and picky reader, I think, but also a much more active and attentive one.
Anyway! Here are my top reads of the year. If you have read or decide to read any of these, PLEASE let me know what you think!
Favorite novel: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I am a fan of YA literature, but recently it’s felt like I’ve been disappointed over and over by the lack of depth in my YA reads. To me, a shallow novel for a young adult shows disturbing disrespect for the customer – an age group that can be more discerning and sensitive than adult readers.
The Scorpio Races does not have that problem.
On the face of it, it’s a very good horse book; I’m used to skimming over incorrect horse details in novels, but there’s no need in this one. And below the horse-book surface, The Scorpio Races is a lovely, slow story with a gentle and believable romance and a fantastic horror/fantasy element. Stiefvater’s imagery is stunning, particularly when she describes the water horses – who are, truly, horrendous monsters.
To me, The Scorpio Races is what YA should be – young, complex characters and beautiful but readable prose layered on a plot relevant to young people.
So I love this one not just because I’m a horse lover. While the horses in The Scorpio Races are superb, they are outclassed by absolutely astounding prose and two extraordinary main characters. I recommend it to horse lovers, fans of YA, or anyone who enjoys audiobooks (the actors for this one really enhance Stiefvater’s gorgeous words).
Favorite novel runner up: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Golem and the Jinni features some of the most spectacular characters I’ve ever read in a standalone novel. And I’m not just talking about the titular golem and jinni – but also every other person in the story. There is so much humanity to love in this book. That does mean that the book is fairly light on plot – for example, the villain is mostly just another fascinating character, and does little in terms of intrigue or action. But I’ll trade fight scenes and mysteries for an engrossing character study any day.
You should read The Golem and the Jinni if you are a fan of either character-driven fantasy or magical realism. If you’re a fan of both, like I am, you’re in for a spectacular treat.
Favorite series: Tawny Man, by Robin Hobb
Hobb’s character work is outstanding – I think her creations are the closest to real people I have ever experienced in a piece of fiction. Her skills at manipulating the reader’s emotions are unmatched. Nothing happens in her books and I don’t even care. Or I care too much, really. Sob.
If you are a fan of SFF, I highly highly highly recommend reading Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in her first trilogy. You may not love it – I didn’t. But if you at least like it, please keep with the series. It gets more beautiful and heart-wrenching with every installment.
Favorite comic: Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake written and drawn by Natasha Allegri
Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake
is a comic based on a one-episode joke from a kid’s cartoon, but it manages to seamlessly combine gripping story, poignant character moments, adorable artwork and
Favorite comic runner up: Captain America: Sam Wilson, Volume 3: Civil War II written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Ángel Unzueta and Daniel Acuna
This year was a spectacular time for Captain America to be black. Spencer and his team took what’s happening in the country today, made it fit perfectly in the Marvel Universe, and then threw Captain America Sam Wilson at it. The result is timely, disturbing, and the absolute highlight of the Civil War II event.