Best Reads of 2018: Speculative Fiction

I read well over 200 hundred books this year and most of them in the Speculative genres. It was difficult to come up with a particular number of books and also difficult to select by genre, so I just made a list, and when it stopped, it stopped. These are all books that I have eagerly recommended to my friends and family. Feel free to click the title to my full review.


 

Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Mini Review)

Rosewater, Nigeria. 2066. Site of the alien biodome. An orb with a mysterious connection to people’s health and a selecting ability to reach into the psyche of others. Tade Thompson’s novel reads as scifi action, cultural inquiry, and deep character examination.

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey

Someone Like Me is a contemplation on fear, memory, and the will to get out from under the weight of ourselves. What is the origin of the attacks on our own psyche, and the “shadows” that live within us all?

Harley Quinn: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan

Although there is action, great action and yes, Batman does make an appearance… the greatness of this book lies in its dedication to the vile twist of a character’s soul. So many calculating threads are laid at the beginning of the book that can be seen making their way through the entire narrative. Great nostalgia and a well-developed voice make Mad Love a must-read for fans of Harley Quinn and Batman.

Halcyon by Rio Youers

Youers’s Halcyon is gut-punch of a thriller, one that had me thinking about our American rat-race, our own visions and dreams, and some people’s perverted paradises. My advice: Don’t be like me. Let yourself go and enjoy this book right from the start.

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

I highly recommend this one to any lover of fantasy with the caveat that this book can be vulgar at times with much sexual humor and graphic violence. This book was self-published in 2016 and will get a major-publisher release later this year, which I predict will be a success.

City of Lies by Sam Hawke

Honor-down! City of Lies is a book filled with intrigue and violent passion, young idealism and old-world fanaticism, but most of all a loyalty among friends that will keep readers eagerly coming back for more of this series.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside passed all my tests. This is a perfect first book in what should be an exceptional fantasy series. The only downside is that I just couldn’t read as fast as I wanted to. Foundryside is much more than a simple thieving caper. Bennett’s use of politics, unique magic, and characters you can really care about elevate this story to a true epic.


SFF Novellas

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark

Clark’s tangible descriptions of the streets of New Orleans are most vivid and colorful. The music, language, food, Mardi Gra costumes, the architecture, and the people. His world-building is an expansive and engrossing treat. Here lies my biggest criticism: the book just isn’t long enough! I definitely want to read more about Creeper. More action, more weapon-hoarding nuns, more time in this fascinating setting. Please.

War Cry by Brian McClellan

War Cry is a perfect introduction into McClellen’s new foray into world building, a place many readers will be itching to explore. A gritty mission of need turns into an incisive, yet measured glimpse of the war and its participants. Highly recommended.


Young Adult

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge takes me back to the whimsy and invention of classics like The Phantom Tollbooth, Willy Wonky, and The Yellow Submarine. A comedy of etiquette errors, of historical hilarities… it’s been a long time since I genuinely laughed out loud while reading a book. I might have snorted once or twice (no witnesses). It’s easy for me to say that Yeltsin’s iconic art style and Anderson’s wit make this one an instant classic in YA fantasy literature.

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Every story is a bittersweet satisfaction. A try for perfection, yet a dash towards a possible cliff.

Highly recommended for high school students and beyond. The speculative and dystopian fan will jump to this book.

 

 

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