Every January I seem to end writing a list of the best books I read in the last year or so, and I realised that isn’t very useful when Christmas happens right before that and people are looking for presents. So this year I’ve written out a bunch of my favourite books from the last two years or so that you could buy for people you like/are obligated to get gifts for. I’ve tried to pick a few in each of the various genres I read in, and there are some relatively “normal” books in there too.
Hope this helps someone.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness
One of my favourite books ever, this maps the of every day survival of those kids who usually exist on the edge of fiction’s narrative – the characters who just
want to go to school, finish their exams and get to college, those kids who aren’t trying to save the world, just survive in it.
The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater
Every October on a small Celtic island, murderous water-horses emerge from sea and all life on the island becomes about the dangerous annual race across the island’s beaches on the backs of the blood-thirsty creatures. The book tells the story of two teenagers, Puck and Sean, who need to win because there isn’t any future for them otherwise.
A Song for Ella Grey – David Almond
The legend of Orpheus is reconfigured into the modern day as seen from a teenage girl on the periphery of the tragedy.
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Always worth mentioning in case people haven’t gotten around to it; the first book sees Katniss volunteer for the Hunger Games in place of her younger sister Prim, where teenagers are forced to compete in an annual Government-sponsored murder Olympics for the gleeful audiences of their nation’s Capital.
The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
In a world ravaged by tectonic instability, those with the power to control the earth are hated just as much as they are utterly necessary to the survival of the species. Dancing across multiple timelines, the narrative moves backwards from the cataclysm that ends the world, to the events that make it almost inevitable, and forward to the attempts of the survivors to live with the world left behind.
Scar Night – Alan Campbell
The city of Deepgate lies suspended by chains over the pit of a great, sleeping demon, being fed the souls of the dead. When a string of murders threatens the whole city, it falls to a hapless teenage (angelic) boy, last of the line of angels who have defended the city for centuries, who can barely lift his father’s greatsword, let alone fly, his mentor, a teenage assassin, a bereaved father and a rogue, lethal angel who drinks mortal blood to sustain herself to stop the ancient demon from rising to claim the entire city.
The House of Shattered Wings – Aliette de Bodard
In a Paris ravaged by the fallout of the Great War of magic, dynasties of fallen amnesiatic angels rule what’s left. Their Empires are broken, their magic failing and the houses war amongst themselves for the scraps. Thrust into the midst of the bloody politics is a drug-addict doctor, a powerful, immortal immigrant from the colonies and a new, exceptionally powerful fallen angel.
The Martian – Andy Weir
When a NASA astronaut is left stranded on Mars, it’s up to him to figure out how to contact home and keep himself alive until a rescue mission can be staged.
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
Particularly for fans of Firefly and Mass Effect, it tells the story of a diverse, oddball crew on a job to a remote part of the Galaxy.
Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
The book follows the adventures of a fragment of a spaceship’s artificial intelligence housed inside repurposed human body, as she seeks to understand and avenge events that occurred two-decades previously.
Books that don’t fall into an easily explainable non-spoilerish catagory
The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
This was probably my favourite book from 2014.
The Girl With All The Gifts – MR Carey
A tense, action-driving thriller full of mysteries and abrupt changes in dynamics.
Asking For It – Louise O’Neill
This is a rough, but great read that leaves you with lingering unpleasant but necessary considerations.
Ocean at the End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
A middle-aged man returns home for a funeral and relives events from his childhood in this dark, adult fairy tale.
Comics (safe for a young audience)
Ms. Marvel VOL. 1: No Normal – G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona
Marvel comics breakout new hero, Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager growing up in New Jersey, full of the kind of joyous energy that made Spider-Man’s earliest adventures so compelling.
Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome To Gotham Academy – Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, Karl Kerschel
This book is essentially the answer to the question, “what if there was a Hogworth’s-type school in Gotham city?”
Lumberjanes, To The Max Edition – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen
Teenage girls attending a summer camp for ‘hardcore lady-types’ quickly realise that all is not what it seems as they fight wolves, solve life-threatening puzzles and try to survive a conflict between Gods.
Comics (definitely not for kids)
Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV
Riffing off Blaxploitation films and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in equal measure, Bitch Planet takes place is a sci-fi misogynistic dystopia that is unfortunately not particularly far removed from our own broken social structures.
Injection, Vol 1 – Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire
Five gifted people decide to take the necessary steps to ensure that human ingenuity and discovery does not stagnate as they foresee it will and create an artificial, mythic intelligence to inject into the planet itself. Years later, the consequences of their actions become clear as the Injection reveals it has its own agenda.
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Twelve ancient Gods, modelled like contemporary pop-stars, are reincarnated every ninety years. In modern day London, where they will live out two years in the public eye before dying again, the twelve Gods emerge one by one, but when Lucifer is accused of murder, fangirl Laura is dragged into the web of their messy lives, and discovers that Godhood is not a simple as it appears.
Sandman Overture – Neil Gaiman, JH Williams III
Taking place just before the first volume of the original Sandman series, Overture is a great starting point and a wonderful way to that world.
Big Hard Sex Criminals Hardcover – Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky
A sweet, honest romance that is nothing like the title makes it sound.
Pretty Deadly Vol. 1: The Shrike – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire
A gothic horror western filled with supernatural characters and small children.
Death Vigil – Stjepan Sejic
Lovecraftian monsters fight holy reapers armed with everything from scythes to playing cards and feathers.