Saturday, December 28, 2013

Obligatory Year End Lists!

Oh god, it's December already... how did this even happen? Months go by and I forget I even have this blog. And then I remember and it's like Christmas morning.

OMG I have a blog!
I love the end of December - that week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Christmas is cool and all but what I really love is end of the year lists. I love reading about bests and worsts. I love writing about bests and worsts. So, here are my top and bottom five books for 2013. These aren't necessarily books that were published in 2013 - just books I read in 2013.


1. World War Z by Max Brooks

I was late to the game with this book because I was so tired of zombies. But this isn't so much a zombie book as it is a book about the fragility of the idea of civilized society. This book was brutal and terrifying for a whole set of reasons that had nothing to do with zombie specifics. I loved it.

2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

This book surprised me. I was familiar with Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy, which is a whole different sort of story - dark, brooding, gothic. I am really glad that I gave this book a chance because it is one of the most fun, funny, and endearing books I have ever read. Teenage beauty queens toughing it out on a deserted island, sexy pirates, evil corporate/military machinations combined with Bray's awesomely twisted sense of humor - yes, please, more please!

3. More Than This by Patrick Ness

I think this is the only book that came out in 2013 that I read in 2013. Seth drowns. He knows that he is dead. He felt himself die. But then he wakes up in front of his childhood home, naked, starving, and all messed up. There's no one else in the house... or in the town. Everything is covered in dust and weeds. What the hell, man? Which is what I kept asking myself with every page. As the story unfolds, we find out how Seth drowns and where he is and why but the journey is heartbreaking.

4. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

When Julia is 12, the earth's rotation on it's axis starts to slow. Days and nights become longer and longer until it's impossible to operate on a 24 hour schedule. While the physics of the universe deteriorate, so does every day life. There's no sweeping explanation for why the Slowing happens and there's no grand attempt to save the world. There's just Julia and her observations on how life crumbles around her a little bit at a time, day after increasingly longer day. Yes, this book is sad, but it's also beautiful and it's stayed with me months later.

5. Deathless by Catherynne Valente

Marya watches as her three sisters are whisked away to marry birds in fairy tale weddings. She waits for the day when this will also happen to her, but it never comes... until it does. Marya is to marry Koschei the Deathless and she is drafted into his never ending war against the living. Russian folklore meets Cold War politics meets horror love story. There's really no classifying this book but it's one of the most impressive things I have ever read.


1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Sweet baby jeebus, this book was a hot mess. When someone this young publishes something so incredibly flawed, I have to wonder what kind of connections he/she has. Rambling plot, nonsensical world building, inconsistent characters and a general sense of aimlessness made this book hard to finish. I have never in my life wanted to give up on a book with only 50 pages until the end.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I don't get it. The appeal of this book... I don't understand how many people enjoy something so poorly written. This book also has nonsensical world building. I don't care how much information is revealed in later books - if the first book doesn't have a solid baseline of information, the rest of the series will feel like it's made up as the author goes along. The characters are not only unlikeable, but taken from stock. There's not an original idea in this entire book. And it was boring... so hideously boring.

3. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

OSC's craziness aside, this book is a bloated, unnecessary abomination in regard to the Ender-verse. I've always been curious as to what Ender got up to between Ender's Game and Speaker For the Dead. There's a compelling story in there. But this is just an account of Ender flying through space with a general who wants him dead and a crazy woman who tries to get him to marry her daughter. There's also a lot of weird passages on the biological imperative to mate and the role of women in marriage. The only reason I finished this book is because I was listening to it on a hideously long car ride and the alternative was Jesus radio.

4. The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

I couldn't even finish this book. The first in the series, The Warded Man, sent up some red flags. One of the main characters is brutally raped and deals with it in an unrealistic way. I've never been brutally raped, so maybe I don't get to say what is and isn't realistic. But by the time we catch up with this character in The Desert Spear, she's un-ironically and in fact happily come to the conclusion that being raped was good for her because she had been too prudish about sex. The book had a lot of other problems, but this was the one that made me put it down.

5. Deathless by Catherynne Valente

Oh hai! Wasn't this already in the best of list? Yeah. It's a really well-written book. But very few things have ever made me feel so hopeless about life. After I finished this book, I kind of stagnated for a bit. I couldn't even go to my book club group to discuss it because I didn't want to think about it anymore. I don't want to think about it now. Until Deathless, I had never finished a book that was good and wished I had never read it.

So, what were your best and worst of 2013?