The Best Books I Read In 2016
I like reading books. A lot. Mostly fiction. Twenty-sixteen was a great year in that respect, I managed to break my all-time records and finish more than 50 books (some of them were graphic novels so it may not be as impressive as it sounds).
There’s a news website called The Atlantic that I visit often and enjoy, they share an annual list where the staff gets to recommend the best book they read during that given year not caring when they were released and it always brings good books to my table. I like list-making and copycat that I am decided to put together my own list of the stuff that’s really sat with me throughout the year.
So yeah, those guys may have more credibility than me (that’s debatable), more readership (that’s a fact), but let’s face it
I’m fucking amazing this blog is basically an extension of my personality and if you’re here, you already know that. You can check out the Atlantic’s 2016 list, my bookworm adventures and all my reviews, and my whole reading year on GoodReads.
1. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
As I mentioned on GoodReads back when I read it, Claire North basically ruined my 2016 reading life. Nothing I read after The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was on the same level. This is a book for the ages.
The less you know going in the better. But to give you a general idea the plot revolves around Harry August who is a kalachakra, a man who is reborn at the same point in time over and over with his memories intact. When a little girl warns Harry on his eleventh death bed that the end of the world is coming sooner with each cycle, Harry goes on the offensive. Can he stop the end of the world?
A sci-fi, fantasy and philosophical masterpiece that is incomparably constructed, fashionably written, breathtaking and existential. The story never stops gaining momentum until it comes full circle reaching its stunning conclusion. My easy choice for the best book I read in 2016 (and possibly beyond).
2. Sword of Destiny (“Witcher Cycle” Book 2) by Andrzej Sapkowski
The whole “Witcher Cycle” has been nothing but a pure delight to read. Andrzej Sapkowski‘s works about the Witcher are an “all is one” saga so you can’t really read them separately or even consider them independent books. I’m about to start book 6 (of 7) but my favorite so far has been Sword of Destiny. It’s a fantastic book with short stories about the infamous Witcher, which are grander, more complex, and pave the way for the much bigger things to come in the series. I had such a great time reading it that when I finished immediately began the first full-length novel (and third book of the series) Blood of Elves.
It’s difficult to summarize the series, the best way to describe it is via its GoodReads synopsis: “Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent. He roams the country seeking assignments, but gradually comes to realize that while some of his quarry are unremittingly vile, vicious grotesques, others are the victims of sin, evil or simple naivety.”
Now I know why (besides the game) the Witcher character is so popular in the world of Fantasy. We’ll see how it goes with the last two books of the series but I already consider the “Witcher Cycle” one of the best fantasy sagas I’ve read.
3. The Fireman by Joe Hill
Joe Hill‘s NOS4A2 was my favorite book that I read in 2013, there wasn’t a part of that novel that I didn’t love. The Fireman (which is the only book on this list actually released in 2016) turned out similar in many ways but also very different. As on Joe Hill‘s other books, the characters are so well written that you instantly feel at home in their company and enjoy spending time with them, but the narrative is completely different than on NOS4A2, I would say it’s more comparable to his first novel Heart-Shaped Box, which is not a bad thing, just not what I expected.
The Fireman follows Harper, a woman who is working as a nurse when a new plague called Draco Incendia Trychophyton (better known as Dragon Scale) begins to overtake the Earth. Harper realizes that she is pregnant and while at first she is completely overcome with happiness, soon realizes that she has also contracted Dragon Scale. Those who have the virus are treated as lepers and are often killed senselessly in order to keep the virus from spreading, so Harper must try her best to survive so that she can give birth to her child. In the meantime, she meets a man named John, also known as The Fireman, who offers to take her to a safe camp for those with Dragon Scale.
The Fireman is very much influenced by the recent wave of YA Dystopian fiction but elevated by Hill‘s talent to something much more sweeping in reach and scope. I enjoyed the hell out of it but felt that the originality he achieved with NOS4A2 is somewhat lost as much of this story’s elements we’ve seen before in other works of the above mentioned YA Dystopian wave or recent years, and if you’re familiar with those some plot devices are extremely foreseeable.
Nonetheless, The Fireman is a worthwhile book and a lot of it delights, despite its 700+ pages size, it never bores you or slows down. Just another great novel in Joe Hill‘s already impressive body of work.
4. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
I had heard and read that this book was good, but if I had known the extent of its goodness I wouldn’t have waited so long to read it. The House of Silk is an extremely impressive work from Anthony Horowitz. It’s an intricately designed story and it’s very well structured, the book has absolutely everything we know and love of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In 1890, London, Edmund Carstairs, a wealthy and refined art dealer, engages the services of Sherlock Holmes. He is afraid that a Boston gangster, Keelan O’Donoghue, is trailing him in England. Murder and mayhem ensue, and the case becomes extremely convoluted. Watson and Holmes themselves enter into some very dangerous situations where we are never entirely certain that they will emerge unscathed or even survive. The story is also an impassioned plea for the destitute, abused, overlooked children of London at that time.
In the afterword of the digital edition, Anthony Horowitz mentions that it took him eight years to write this novel and it’s easy to see why. The sheer amount of care and detail he put into the plot and these beloved characters is evident on every single page. It will be hard for you to find a better mystery/thriller on the shelves today, so if you care at all about Sherlock Holmes, or simply about good writing, pick up The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. It’s simply excellent.
5. Dead Sea by Tim Curran
What a book! I usually read a lot of horror novels, many of them (isn’t mostly everything in horror fiction?) influenced by the works of legendary author H.P. Lovecraft, but Dead Sea sets itself apart. Tim Curran manages to assemble incredible imagery, unlimited atmosphere, and a darkness that gets under the reader’s skin.
In Dead Sea, a ship and her crew encounter a dense, endless fog. From there, it’s all downhill for them. The ship emerges in another dimension, a graveyard of ships choked with carnivorous weeds, tentacled nasties of all shape and size (oh the Lovecraftian greatness!), and a mysterious entity that wants them all dead.
Dead Sea is a true masterpiece of horror fiction. H.P. Lovecraft by way of Ray Bradbury with a pinch of Rod Serling, all rolled up into one. With lots of foreshadowing, Curran manages scares the hell out of you and in the last hundred pages speeds things up to a very satisfactory conclusion. Certainly among the very best of my year in books. Easily recommended.
6. Hyperion / The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
7. That Which Should Not Be / He Who Walks In Shadow by Brett J. Talley
8. Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond by David Nickle (editor)
9. The Thing: Zero Day by Lee McGeorge
That’s it from me today, I hope you read some of these amazing books, come back here and let me know your impressions. Until next time. Thank you for reading this blog and keep those pages turning!
Tags: book, book review, books, review