The Top Ten
1. The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan
2. Among Others by Jo Walton
3. Red Shirts by John Scalzi
4. The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson
5. Contact by Carl Sagan
6. The City & The City by China Mielville
7. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
9. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
10. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Best Science Fiction Novel
Contact by Carl Sagan blends science and wonder into a hopeful first contact story. (Full book review)
Best Fantasy Novel
Told through the Mori’s journal, Among Others by Jo Walton felt deeply personal, sharing the story of a young girl with a physical disability, a love for science fiction and fantasy books, and a belief in fairies. One of the things I loved about this book is how the fairies and magic are presented as mundane and ordinary and oh, so believable.
Best Horror Novel
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is almost possible to sum up in a single sentence, full of “found” writing, notes, and footnotes — a story about finding a story about a documentary about a family that moves into a House that is more than it seems. This is a book that takes some patience, but nevertheless has the power to deliver chills. (Full book review.)
Best YA Novel
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson is a magical apocalypse story, in which a teenager called Scotch thinks her biggest problems are her over protective parents, facing her ex boyfriend, and pulling together her dance moves before the big competition until a cataclysmic event throws the world into chaos. This story is strange, unsettling, and sometimes terrifying, as though Salvidor Dali and Franz Kafka envisioned the apocalypse. An inventive and fast paced book.
Best Short Story Collection
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older provides alternative narratives, stories of people that the history books usually ignore in a fantastic collection of speculative fiction stories. (Full book review.)
Best Graphic Novel
I have to name the Locke & Key series, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, which I read in its entirety this year. The story follows the Locke family, who move to their uncle’s large old house in Lovecraft, Massachusetts to make a new start following the murder of their husband/father. The mother is trying to hold it together, the eldest son is racked with guilt, the daughter (who already saved her younger brother once) is trying to disappear into the crowd, while the youngest, Bode, explores the ghostly world of their new home. The house they move into is full of doors and hidden keys, which do allow the kids to do all sorts of strange, wonderful, and frightening things. Beautifully illustrated, bloody, emotionally complex, and just plain awesome.
Honorable Mentions: I loved Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks for it’s sweet, funny storyline, and This One Summer, written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki for it’s bitter-sweet tale and gorgeous artwork.
Best Poetry Book
Hum by Jamaal May is a stunning collection of poetry, thrumming with rhythm and beautiful imagery highlighting “the inner lives of Detroiters.” (Full book review.)
Best Nonfiction Book
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King tells the story of a court case Marshall worked on with many other members of the NAACP, in which four young black men (known as the Groveland boys) are accused by a white woman of rape in Groveland, Florida, in 1949. This book is rich in historical detail and is so captivating it reads like a thriller novel.
Most Epic Read
The Arabian Nights, Vols. 1-3 was an epic journey through Shahrazad’s 1,100 nights of folkelore and tales, which was over 2,000 pages in length. It was a fun journey full of viziers and kings, villainous and virtuous women, and an assortment of magical creatures. Inspiring me to write three rather long blog posts: Review 1, Review 2, and Book Review 3.