|Oh hi, Jujubee!|
However, I'm going to do things a little differently. There were so many books in 2015 that I had strong opinions about for many different reasons that I'm just going to go through the most notable ones and give them their own categories. So, here is my list of most notable books in 2015:
(Disclaimer: not all of these books were written in 2015 - they are books that I read in 2015.)
Prettiest: Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson
This was a really excellent story but Dodson is also a book designer and he pulled out all the stops with Bats of the Republic. This book has gorgeous drawings and handwritten chapters. The pages are nice and thick and there is a super secret envelope in the back that says DO NOT OPEN. The cover is so silky smooth and pretty that I had a hard time reading it instead of petting it with my face.
Best Under the Radar Graphic Novel: Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
This was probably the most fun thing I read this year. Rat Queens mocks and pays homage to the culture of Dungeons and Dragons. It also tackles some complicated character development and Serious Issues all underneath a thick layer of straight up debauchery.
Best Graphic Novel on Everyone's Radar: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I first discovered Stevenson through the Hawkeye Initiative, where she drew Hawkeye in all of the ridiculous poses that male artists think female characters can do. Maybe if those female characters didn't have spines or digestive tracts... Anyway, Nimona is both adorable and serious - the two are not mutually exclusive. It's a story about belonging and doing the right things or the wrong things, and maybe some dragons.
Best Sequel: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I'm not going to spoil this book - it's a sequel. But this was the sequel that all other sequels should aspire to be. I could not put it down. The first book (The Queen of the Tearling) was good, but this was better.
Most Haunting: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
This is Link's latest book of short stories but the first one I read. I then promptly devoured everything I could find by her. If fiction writing had an uncanny valley, her work would be in it. This book in particular left me with a deliciously creepy feeling without being able to articulate the exact point of creep factor.
Best Book With Realistically Queer Characters: A Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall
Sure, this is a sword and sorcery fantasy book but the queerness factor is as real as it gets. Or, as real as we all wish it were in our own world. No one is tragically gay or secretly trans. Everyone is out and open and no one gives a shit. The main character is bisexual. A side character is both asexual and gender queer. Another character is a cis woman with a glorious mustache. And a male character is in an arranged marriage with another dude. Oh, and there are guys who like girls and girls who like guys - everyone is sexually happy and the one thing no one kills anyone over is the junk in their pants. Or skirts. Or whatever.
Best Book That I Read to Myself in the Voice of Someone Else: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
I am a late comer to the land of Night Vale, but when I fell for it, I fell hard. This book is not a story of Cecil, but I read the entire thing in Cecil's voice. It's the story of Jackie Fierro, eternally 19, and Diane Crayton, mother of a shape shifting son. They are both haunted by slips of paper that say KING CITY and the constant appearance of a weirdly smiling man. Is King City real? Who is this smiling creeper? And what is with these plastic flamingos all over town? Read, if you dare - but whatever you do, don't get the book from your local library.
Most Interesting Non-Fiction: The State of Play, edited by Daniel Goldberg
You don't have to be a gamer to read up on gamer culture and games theory, or sympathize with the victims of Gamergate. This is a book of essays from all walks of gaming that looks at all of the ways in life that we play. And what is play, really? From Call of Duty to Depression Quest, this book looks at all of the ways that games impact our lives.
Weirdest Author: Ainslie Hogarth
This year I read her second book, The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) and Hogarth has maintained her WTF-ness after her first book, The Lonely. I read this book in one sitting and it occasionally made me nauseous. Noelle has a job at the Boy Meets Girl Inn, which is also the scene of several grisly murders, including her own. Don't worry - that's not a spoiler. Trust me. She also has a hideous and growing scab on the back of her head and an awful father. There's a pick-ax involved, but also some cats. Oh god, I just remembered the cats.
Book That Made Me Angriest at Book Club: Slade House by David Mitchell
I liked this book but I didn't want to. I had to read it for a book club I'm in. But I got mad at what a literary asshole David Mitchell is. Who writes whole passages of a book in French without translation? I mean, that was The Bone Clocks, but Slade House is an offshoot of The Bone Clocks. All of Mitchell's books are offshoots of each other, but in really stupid ways.This is a book about immortal soul suckers and their victims. I am a very smart person, and even I had to take notes to keep things straight. Whatever. Just fuck off with your unoriginal time jumping premise, David.
Best Wrestling Book: Wrestling For My Life by Shawn Michaels
I read a lot of books about professional wrestling this year. I liked wrestling a lot as a tween and teen in the late 80s and early 90s. I've gotten back into it in the last couple of years. Michaels was one of the baddest heels when I was a kid, and this was before the Attitude Era. He's written a decent memoir here of finding god, getting clean, and continuing to enjoy a career that makes sticking with god and staying clean kind of hard.
Fine. If I Really Have to Have a Favorite Book (OMG it is so good!): Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I love 'chosen one' narratives. I can't help it. Wish fulfillment fiction can be so satisfying. Rowell takes the chosen one narrative and messes with it so hard. The character of Simon Snow first showed up in Rowell's book Fangirl (which is also amazing and has cover art by Noelle Stevenson) and is the subject of eight books by fictional author Gemma T. Leslie. In Fangirl, Cath writes slash fic about Simon and his nemesis, Baz, as they attend a magical boarding school a la Harry Potter. Carry On is the the eighth book in the series even though books 1-7 actually don't exist. Simon has to save the magical world, but how? And from what? Baz has to stop him because... reasons? I don't want to give away more than that. But this book is so delightful and also mind-bendingly meta.