Please note: This list is compiled in no particular order. It is simply a list of my favorite books for this particular genre read in 2011.
• On the Beach by Nevil Shute (Post Apocalyptic)
A very realistic, adult dystopian novel. Published in 1957, an era of living with “the bomb”, Shute explores life (or the lack thereof) after World War III. The radioactive cloud hasn’t hit Australia yet, so the last of the world’s survivors cope with their impending deaths in the coming months. What do you do when your clock is ticking? Some party it up, some buy race cars, and some continue in their social traditions of country clubs. But, death is coming, and it is heartbreaking to watch the well-developed, diverse characters succumb to this fact. Highly recommended along with the excellent film version starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire.
• The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Post Apocalyptic)
Another good adult dystopian novel imagining what humans are capable of when there is absolutely no hope. This novel is very bleak and somewhat depressing, but so well done. The world is dead and burned, but a father and son push on, trying to find salvation, though they are constantly plagued by the danger of murderous, desperate outlaws and starvation.
• Under the Dome by Stephen King (Dystopian)
While King is known as the Master of Horror, I definitely would categorize this under science fiction. It reads like an extended Twilight Zone episode. Here’s my review.
• 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Time Travel)
Another great science fiction novel by King, written in the vein of The Bachman Books. Highly recommended! Here’s my review.
• Rant by Chuck Palahniuk (Never sure how to categorize Palahniuk, that’s why he’s awesome)
I am still reading this one, the last book of 2011. However, it is definitely good. Highly recommended to those who don’t mind alternative writing styles or gritty realism and enjoy thinking. I tend to cogitate over each of Palahniuk’s sentences like lines of poetry, just considering how it will connect to the final turning point. Every line counts! I love Palahniuk.
• Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (Mythology)
Kind of a spin-off of Gaiman’s excellent American Gods, Anansi Boys tells the story of Fat Charlie, a regular guy who is the son of Anansi, the African spider god and brother of Spider, who is dashing, charming, and magical. Spider decides to infiltrate Fat Charlie’s life and all hell breaks loose for the poor protagonist. Very humorous and well-written, I highly recommend it!
• A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin (Epic)
So, I re-read almost all of the books in the series this year, and loved them almost more having all of the background knowledge gained from last year’s readings. Here are quick reviews for each that I read this year:
– A Game of Thrones: Re-read this novel as I watched the HBO series. This is the set-up novel that hooks us all. Martin throws you right into the action with little back story, so if you feel overwhelmed, just keep going! It will pay off and you’ll be thankful that he didn’t bog you down with lots of exposition!
– A Storm of Swords: Skipped A Clash of Kings and went straight to this, the third book of the series. Had to re-read this novel as it was the last time I saw most of the characters featured in A Dance with Dragons. This is my absolute favorite of the series! Full of action, twists, intrigue, shocking deaths, and a major cliff hanger ending. Love, love, love this series!
– A Feast for Crows: In this novel, Martin focuses upon about half of the main characters, leaving the other characters’ stories to be told in A Dance with Dragons. There was some major politics and deception in this novel, as well as some surprising twists and, of course, a major cliffhanger for one of my favorite characters.
– A Dance with Dragons: As I was expecting only the stories of the characters left out of A Feast for Crows, I was delighted to find that Martin included most of the characters of his series in this book. This book was excellent and had the best epilogue I’ve ever read (So that was his hidden motive!) Can’t wait for the next book to be published (please don’t wait five years, Mr. Martin!).
• Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Time Travel)
Loosely do I place this in the fantasy genre, as it more often feels like historical fiction/adventure. I really enjoyed this novel and hope to read the next book in the series in 2012. Here is my review.
• The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Epic)
• Nightmares and Dreamscapes (Print and Audio, read by various) by Stephen King (Short Stories)
Another great collection of short stories by Stephen King. I really enjoyed the audio version, although I read about half of the book in print as well. Here is my review.
• We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Classic/Gothic)
I loved this novel by Jackson. It was an excellent kick start to my readathon in October. Here’s my review.
• Horns by Joe Hill (Supernatural/Fantasy)
This is another novel that is loosely categorized, as I never found it particularly scary. However, I did really enjoy it, particularly for Hill’s masterful characterization. Here is my review.
• The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch (TV spin-off/Paranormal)
• The Walking Dead series (Graphic Novel) by Robert Kirkman (Zombies/Post-Apocalyptic)
This graphic novel series is unique in its unflinching depiction of a group of survivors in a world decimated by zombies. Kirkman has no problem killing off favorite characters in the most heartbreaking ways, and that is one reason why this series is so amazing.
Tomorrow’s Post: No more lists! My 2011 in Review: Stats, Challenges, Blog Events, etc.