Well it’s that time of year again – the time when bookworms set their reading challenges, make a bookish resolution or two, and muse on what novels they enjoyed most during this particular loop around the sun. So to join in the New Year’s spirit, here are the 6 best fantasy and sci-fi books (and/or series) that I read in 2016:
Red Rising Trilogy
Author: Pierce Brown
I’m listing the whole trilogy here, because they were all amazing, but my favourite is Golden Son. I often expect to be disappointed by second books in YA dystopian/sci-fi trilogies, so I was blown away when this one took the story to a whole new crazy, suspenseful level. In fact, I’d say this series constantly surprised me in nerve-shredding but fantastic ways. Every time I thought I knew where it was going, it took an unexpected turn, and I found myself on a intense emotional rollercoaster. The audiobook narration on this one is also brilliant.
Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
I finally picked Six of Crows up this year after seeing many recommendations, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’d read Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy before and enjoyed it, but this book is in a whole new league (in my opinion, anyway). The suspenseful ‘heist’ story and complex, compelling characters had me spellbound. It also had that original, new, unique flavour I’m always looking for in a fantasy – that feeling that I haven’t read anything quite like it before. Can’t wait to read the sequel.
Author: Naomi Novik
This book has won multiple awards, and it really deserves them. I loved that it told a compelling story with great characters, while at same time painting a fascinating fairytale-like world dripping with wild, ancient magic and dark, dangerous forests. Fairy tale-based books can sometimes feel a bit derivative and same-same to me, but Uprooted managed to capture that rich folk tale quality while still telling an original story. It’s also a stand-alone, which I appreciated as you don’t see them all too often in the fantasy genre.
Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
This book surprised me – I read the first in the series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and had a lukewarm reaction, so I was unsure whether to continue (I think early parts of it felt too reminiscent other YA paranormal novels I’d read, and the best friend character annoyed me), but I’m so glad I did! Days of Blood and Starlight, and the third book Dreams of Gods and Monsters, took the story to a new level, expanded the world, and headed in a direction I did not expect. I’ve rarely scene a fantasy romance that maintains romantic tension and conflict so well over a whole trilogy – it had me completely hooked!
Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas
I enjoyed the first three books in the Throne of Glass series, particularly Heir of Fire, which introduced Manon (who has since become my favourite character!) but Queen of Shadows was the first to make it onto my all-time favourites list. This book had so many great characters facing terrible odds and challenges, and really entered some high-stakes territory as the greater evil threats started to coalesce. It was suspenseful all the way through, introduced a couple of new characters I really liked, and regularly kept me guessing with unexpected twists and turns.
The Last Mortal Bond
Author: Brian Staveley
This was a great conclusion to a great series (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne). I’m sometimes wary of traditional epic high fantasy, as it can easily fall into clichés, but this series didn’t. It offered an intriguing world with interesting characters and an unusual storyline. The force of evil in the story was not a Dark-Lord-style villain, but a more interesting and chilling enemy. I loved the different training/skills the main characters had (the Kettral were awesome!), as well as the cultural intricacies of the world. Oh, and there were some great female characters, most particularly Gwenna.
So those were the highlights of 2016 for me as far as sci-fi and fantasy goes. If you enjoyed any of these books, or want to let me know about a good book I should read in 2017, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!