I have read an awful lot of books this year. This is not unusual, in fact this year I’ve actually read less than I usually would have. I think I may have been having an ‘off ‘ year.
Nevertheless there were a few books that outshone the others – the ones that kept me up all night and into the wee hours unable to stop turning pages, desperate to know what happens next.
These are my best reads this year:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is by far the best book I have read in an extremely long time. It’s set in a dystopian future where the only way to escape a harsh reality is to enter virtual reality. Your main character is a nobody, just some guy who happens to be really good with computers, and he takes on a mega-corporation in a battle to save virtual reality from their greedy hands. This story is easy to read, fast paced and packed with so many tasty tidbits of 80’s nostalgia it draws you further into its world until you realise it’s 4 am and you can’t put it down until you know how it ends. It doesn’t disappoint. This may be the opportune time to get your hands on a copy of this book as Cline has sealed a deal to have it adapted into a movie – I really can’t wait to see how it turns out. His second novel Armada has also had a pretty successful release and I’ll be looking forward to reading it as soon as I get down to the bookstore.
The Explorer + The Echo by James Smythe
I’ll start with The Explorer. Our main man is a reporter who has been chosen to join a team of scientists and astronauts on a journey into an uncharted region of space and to document everything to send back home. It all goes wrong from the beginning. This story has twists and turns and pretty gross descriptions of events. There is one section in particular which was very hard for me to read, I’m pretty squeamish and this added to the horror and feeling of dread that permeates every chapter. It left me wanting more.
Hop on over to the sequel, The Echo. Some time has passed and now another team of scientists and astronauts are ready to head out into space and investigate exactly what happened to the previous mission. There is a lot more sciencey stuff happening in this book, possibly because it’s main focus is on scientists and not a journalist. For some this may lead to a few problems – mainly being that some of the science isn’t quite factual. Don’t let this deter you from reading. There’s enough dread and suspense to make up for these little faults, and trust me, they are tiny. I read both these books in one very long night. It was worth it. And the good news is there should be two more additions to this series to wrap up the intricate storylines as these are part of Smythe’s Anomaly Quartet.
Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel
It’s so hard to try and describe this one, I’ve tried to three times now. Just read it . . .
. . .only kidding – but seriously you must read it. The paths of the main characters weave together in what I can only describe as perfect storytelling. The main thread is of a mysterious virus that kills quickly, those who are immune must go to the only safe haven which may or may not just be a rumour. The aftermath is seen from the viewpoints of several survivors all making their way to this place of safety. I really can’t say anything else, I can’t do justice to how wonderful this book is. The ending is like a revelation, bulbs start lighting up, everything falls together. It’s brilliant.
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Melanie is 10 years old. She is being studied by the military because she is infected. This is a nice little twist on your run-of-the-mill infection story. Melanie is the key to finding a cure for the infection, but it may not be what you would expect. It’s really lovely to see things from a child’s veiwpoint for once, there’s a lot more hope and less of the doom plus it’s still slightly chilling enough to whet your horror tastebuds.
And Then Emily Was Gone by John Lees and Iain Laurie
Here’s a wee change for the lineup, a graphic novel. Did anyone chance upon a prologue of this little beauty on Free Comic Book day? This is a creepy little comic about a private investigator who is asked to find out more about the disappearance of a young girl in the Orkney Islands. There’s a folk legend of Bonnie Shaw, a bogeyman who takes children in the night after their parents make a wish. Iain Laurie’s art style is perfect for the story and adds to the unsettling theme. Nothing is what it seems. If you live in the UK it might be a tad difficult getting your hands on a hard copy, I had to use the American Amazon site to get to the ComixTribe section – there’s very little choice left on the UK version. If you’re happy reading an ebook version check out the ComixTribe twitter – they recently had a link for their newsletter and for signing up they gave away 5 ebook versions of some of their popular graphic novel series – one of which was And Then Emily Was Gone.
Happy reading and Happy New Year! May 2016 bring you books you can’t put down ^_^