2016 Reading Review

Another great year of books is behind us.  As usual, I read a lot of YA fantasy, but I also read a good mix of other stuff, too (partly thanks to the bimonthly GeekyNerdy Book Club).

This year I read 35 books and graphic novels (not counting re-reads).  Here are some of my favorites:

YA fantasy/sci-fi:

Indie fantasy:

Non-fiction:

There are also a few other genre books that really stood out, but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing them yet, so I’m making some space for them here.

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology

Related imageThis was hands-down my favorite series of 2016.  I wrote previously about the first book, Six of Crows, and I’m now here to tell you that the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, is an immensely satisfying conclusion.  The characters are still amazing, and continue to be challenged in new, different ways.  The fantasy aspects also continue to be developed.

It’s not an entirely happy ending, but there was never going to be a perfectly happy ending to this story, and honestly it was happier than I was expecting.  I’m even considering buying the hardcover set, which I never do, because the books themselves have the pages edged in color: black for the first and red for the second.

If you like YA fantasy, grey characters, and complex plots, this one is for you.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

There has been so much buzz around this book since22544764 it was published last year (it was nominated for a Hugo and won the Nebula), and I was not disappointed at all.  The story is a kind of original fairy tale, eastern-European inspired, and walks the line between YA and regular adult fantasy.  The main character Agnieszka is “taken” by the local lord, called the Dragon, and is eventually trained by him as a magical apprentice to help defeat the evil Wood.

There’s plenty of magic, and although the magic system is not well-defined, the book does give us an interesting sense of the different methods of working it (the Dragon is more precise and scientific, while Agnieszka works more based on feel and intuition).  There’s also a great female friendship at the core of the story, and some romance—it wasn’t my favorite ever, but I thought it was done well for the story.

The Wood is a surprisingly good villain, and the story’s resolution seemed very fitting.  Even after everything that’s happened, Agnieska can still empathize with the Wood and tries to work out a solution for everyone’s benefit (it’s very Wonder Woman ^_^).

Also, I pictured the Dragon as looking like Rumpelstiltskin from OUAT, so there’s that.

Rumple

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

25372801I’ve been reading CJA for years, as one of the founders of the website io9.com; her movie reviews are the most entertaining I’ve ever read (some of my favorites are Transformers: ROTF, Gods of EgyptThe Force Awakens, The Martian, and The Huntsman: Winter’s War).

I also loved her short story (and Naomi Novik’s) in our recent GeekyNerdy Book Club selection, The Starlit Wood.  So it’s safe to assume that I love her writing style, and it definitely carried me through this story, which was wonderful and memorable, though perhaps not perfect.

A witch girl and a tech-genius boy grow up together as school outcasts, grow apart, then meet again as adults, which is convenient because one or possibly both of them need to save the world from near-imminent destruction. I loved that there is both fantasy and science fiction mashed up here.  It was fascinating to me that the witches would have destroyed humanity to save the planet, while the scientists were willing to risk destroying the planet to save humans.  It was nice to see scientists wrestling with ethical questions, too.

Overall, this book is a little weird, which is why I loved it.  The narrative is a bit uneven, but you just kinda have to go along for the ride.

Here’s to more great books in the new year.  What books did you enjoy most in 2016?

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8 thoughts on “2016 Reading Review

  1. blackmutts December 30, 2016 / 1:53 pm

    I loved, loved Uprooted when I read it, but I am admittedly behind on reading in general. We just managed to get caught up on Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co., which is admittedly middle grade vs young adult, but I enjoy them as much or more than a lot of the young adult stuff I have picked up lately. Oh, and V.E. Schwab’s Gathering of Shadows. I am increasingly in love with her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei December 30, 2016 / 2:01 pm

      I’m hearing so much about VE Schwab; I really need to check out her stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      • blackmutts December 30, 2016 / 2:24 pm

        We picked up Vicious by her and can’t wait to see if it lives up to the Shades of Magic books out so far- from what I have heard, it will, so I am optimistic. (We, by the way, is my wife and I, because these are the kind of books we try to read together or as close together as possible to discuss)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mei-Mei December 30, 2016 / 2:27 pm

        That’s so cool that you and your wife read books together! I did that with my husband for the first time this year with Leviathan Wakes, which I had already read before. Now he’s ahead of me in the series and keeps bugging me to catch up haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      • blackmutts December 31, 2016 / 2:17 pm

        We started with either the Raven Cycle or Lockwood & Co. books when we had our first child three years ago, and I was stuck in a chair breastfeeding her constantly. So we read our books aloud so she could hear our voices (which she may or may not have found soothing!) and we got to experience the books together. It is harder now that we have a toddler who runs around instead of cuddles in our laps, so my wife just finished the lasting the Raven boys by herself and SHE NOW KNOWS IF GANSEY IS DEAD AND I DON’T!!! It is much less fun this way, and I have to rush to catch up…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei December 30, 2016 / 8:04 pm

      Ha! I like the Dragon better already! ~_^

      Like

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