It’s finally time to evaluate my reading year, and I’m starting off with my Top Ten Adult Speculative Fiction picks this week! I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish, where you’re sure to find many other Best of 2015 lists.
It’s always so hard to narrow down my favorites to only ten books, so of course I have an “honorable mention” section at the end of this post, other worthy books that would have been on this list if it were longer. For the first time since I’ve been blogging, I included a pre-2015 release on my top ten list, and it turned out to be my FAVORITE of the year (see #1 below). Funny how things work out sometimes, right? Listed in no particular order, here are my favorite adult books of the year. I’ve assigned each an “Academy Award” type honor, as is my custom, and I’ve linked up my reviews of each book as well:
Afterparty by Daryl Gregory (Tor). 2015 was the year I discovered Daryl Gregory, and Afterparty was THE BEST book I read this year. So there you have it, when forced to pick a favorite, I pick a book that didn’t even come out in 2015, LOL! When you’re planning your backlist reading list for 2016 (if you do that sort of thing) might I suggest picking up this gem? My “nitty-gritty” recap for this book: “If Pulp Fiction and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest went to church and got pregnant, Afterparty would be their crazy, drug-soaked baby.” Intrigued? Read my review here.
The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp (Gallery Books) landed on my Top Ten New-To-Me Authors list this year, and I couldn’t be happier. This book was so good that I didn’t want it to end. Asmodeus Saxon-Tang, our septuagenarian MC, was one of the most brash, outspoken, hilarious and yes, lovable characters I’ve ever read. Who would think a 70-something man who steals treasures from vampires would entertain so much? My “nitty-gritty” for this book: “A stylish, horrifying and wryly humorous reading experience like no other.” Read my review here.
The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson (Talos) sounded really good when I saw it on Edelweiss, and because I was bored that day, I requested it. (Unfortunately, Edelweiss is often my go-to website when I’m bored, which means I request way more books that I should!). But in this instance, it paid off, big time. I was surprised and delighted at how good this was, so good that it instantly jumped onto my top ten list. My “nitty-gritty” went like this: “A magical tale steeped in Chinese folklore and history, with memorable characters, exciting action, and one very special eyeball spirit named Mr. Yanqiu.” Books from small publishers are often over-looked, but I hope that won’t be the case with this one. Read my review here.
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga Press) was my first Catherynne M. Valente book, and I’m so glad I finally got to experience what everyone’s been raving about. A novella, yes, but boy did this pack a novel-sized punch. If you love fairy tale re-tellings that go against the norm, then you absolutely must read this book. My nitty-gritty said: “A luminous and magical Snow White re-telling, with gorgeous imagery and writing beyond compare.” I recommend you experience if for yourself! Read my review here.
I knew I was going to enjoy Nightwise by R.S. Belcher (Tor Books), because I really dug his Golgotha series, but I was not prepared to love it as much as I did. Nightwise blew me away. I fell for a rather unlovable character and marveled at Belcher’s unique explanations for many of history’s most devastating events. In my nitty-gritty I said: “A dark and dangerous magical world, an awesome anti-hero, stellar writing—what more do you need?” Read my review here.
One of my most anticipated books of the year, Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Saga Press) was everything I had hoped and more. I don’t think you’ll find a bigger, stronger, and more diverse group of female characters in any other book this year. My nitty-gritty for this book: “Full of the same surreal and desolate atmosphere that I loved in The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, Clarke brings us an irresistible story full of dangerous and desperate characters, in one of the most unique settings I’ve seen in some time.” Read my review here.
Zero World by Jason M. Hough (Del Rey) was my first book by the author, but it certainly won’t be my last. With this intriguing statement early in the story—”This will be the most interesting mission you’ll ever forget.”—the reader is introduced to a spy whose memories are erased after each mission. I said in my nitty-gritty “Thrilling action, unexpected surprises and complex and layered characters, this is one book science fiction fans should not miss!” Read my review here.
I just recently finished The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit), and I’m so glad I was able to include it on this list—it deserves a spot for sure! Jemisin’s world-building reminded me a bit of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, or at least at times it had the same “we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore” otherworldly feel to it. I’m giving it the “Most Heartbreaking” award because it was more that just top-notch story-telling: it was devastatingly emotional at times, and yes, it made me cry. My nitty-gritty said: “An intricately woven tale, a dangerous and deadly world, full of wonderfully layered characters and uncommon world-building elements.” Read my review here.
The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu (Angry Robot) concluded one of my favorite science fiction series of the past few years, and it couldn’t have ended any better, in my opinion. Chu had a great year, since he started another series with Tor Books (Time Salvager) in addition to this fantastic series ender. My nitty-gritty proclaimed: “A perfectly paced, action-packed ending to a top-notch series, with characters you won’t want to say goodbye to.” Read my review here.
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (Crown Books) made me cry, which is always a sign that it’s going to end up being a favorite book. It was strange and surreal, magical, heartbreaking, weird and wonderful, all at the same time. I fear this book has been overlooked this year, and I hope I can encourage at least one person to give it a shot. My nitty-gritty review says: “A gorgeous and surreal world filled with broken but hopeful characters, beautifully written.” Yep, that about sums it up! Read my review here.
Honorable mentions: Because it’s so hard to narrow this list to ten, here are eight other books that I adored this year:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente, Dark Star by Oliver Langmead, We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord, Armada by Ernest Cline and Time Salvager by Wesley Chu.
Do you have any of these books on your top ten list this year? Let me know! And next Tuesday, I’ll be unveiling my Top Ten YA Speculative Fiction Books of 2015. Don’t miss it!