The Best Books of 2017

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The Best Books of 2017

Once again I’m running into the problem that readers love to have: too many fantastic books from last year to fit into a short top-three list. Click the jump for a list of the ten best (and by “best” I mean “favorite”) from 2017.

 

 

Norse Mythology

Neil Gaiman has been weaving various mythologies into his stories since the first issue of Sandman. Pick a mythological figure from any pantheon, you name it, and Neil’s probably written a surprising interpretation of their character arc that shows their whole motivation was based on an unlucky love affair, or something embarrassing that happened when they were eight. It’s always something fascinating, so of course I picked up a copy of his collection of Norse Mythology as soon as it came out.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Peaks the Final Dossier

I’m not sure how Mark Frost did it, but he somehow managed to answer SO many questions I’ve had about what happened to all the Twin Peaks characters before, during, and after Season Three, while somehow managing to not resolve any of my “WTF” feelings I was left with at the end of “Twin Peaks: The Return”.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer in Orcus

Every Best Of list needs to include at least one T. Kingfisher (otherwise known as Urusla Vernon) book, and my goodness was this one ever delightful. The author used this story as a repository for a lot of odd ideas she’s been trying to find a place for, and the scene with the stained glass windows featuring a Saint wearing sneakers is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Devours! A Welcome To Night Vale Novel

A second novel based on the Welcome To Night Vale world, written by the creators of the same? Yes please! This novel features everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Church of the Smiling God, plus a realistic romance, Carlos being wrong, and potatoes that absolutely fail to be disappointing.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clockwork Boys

Yes, that’s right, a second book by T.Kingfisher in one Best Of list, you wanna make something of it? Surprisingly dark at times, this one has everything I love about Kingfisher’s writing: snappy dialog, fantastical non-sequiturs, a marauding enemy that’s as weird as it is horrifying, and a host of likable characters who manage to get on each other’s nerves all the time. And since this is the first book in a series, there’s the added bonus of knowing we get more of all of this in the next book.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stone Sky

Since I was determined to read as many of the Hugo Nominees for 2017 as I could, and since this is the third book in the series, that meant I had to read two more novels before I could even start the nominated one. And you know what? Totally worth it. N.K. Jemisin has created a dazzling world with it’s own history and technology to wrap around an epic story that’s tragic and messy and real.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raven Stratagem

Beautiful, horrifying, dazzlingly complex and almost impossible to explain, the second book in Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy keeps thing moving along almost too fast for the reader to keep up with. It’s galactic cyberpunk with a distinctly Japanese feel. It’s spaceships with names that are poetry, and a technology based on calendars and powered at least partly by tortures performed at specific points in those calendars. The author’s skilled enough at exposition that you might be able to read this one without reading the first, but I’d suggest starting from the beginning anyway. This series is work, but worth it.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of Swords

The character Maude Stapleton has impressed me right down to the ground in R.S. Belcher’s two previous books set in the tiny (and dangerous) desert town of Golgatha. Mother, laundress, terrifyingly skilled fighter trained by a secret sisterhood of assassins, this is the book where we see Maude reclaim her inheritance and confront an ancient enemy of the Daughters of Lilith. We also finally hear the full story of Maude’s great-great-great-great-grandmother Anne Bonny, devil-may-care pirate queen and the most feared woman across the high seas.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Refrigerator Monologues

The stories in this collection will piss people off. By design. You’ll either be ticked off that someone’s making a huge fuss about an accepted storyline, or you’ll be pissed that this type of storyline has been used so many times that we actually have a name for it. These are the stories told from the point of view of the women who have been”refrigerated”; taken out of the story in a way that shows their only point for existing in the first place was to give the male characters something to be sad about when they’re gone. Catherynne Valente has her own take on all of the tropes and famous female collateral-damage characters. And the framing sequence of the Hell Hath Club means you can imagine just about any tragically murdered heroine strolling up to the table and sitting down with a, “Men, right?”

It’s not a comfortable book by any means, but I think it’s significant that a book like this would be released this year, when there have been so many stories finally told about people who have been treated like their only worth was to be a sexual prize for their colleagues. And if you’re mad about it for whatever reason, then by God say something. I think we can all agree that so much of the crap that’s gone on in Hollywood and Washington DC ended up being a lot worse from people thinking for years that their only choice was to stay quiet about it.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Motor Girl: Real Life

I have to include at least one graphic novel in this list, because Terry Moore’s latest series is just so damn appealing. The artwork is everything I love about Moore’s work, and the main character, Iraq veteran and former POW, Samantha Locklear is my favorite kind of action hero: the kind who faces down a huge armed attacker with an annoyed glare, and then knocks him out with one punch to the throat because she’s got military training and her attacker is just an idiot civilian with a gun. Sam also has complete confidence in her backup: a hard-drinking, no nonsense 600-pound gorilla (yes, imaginary, although that matters a lot less than you’d think.)

And also there are aliens.

Read the full review here.