Well another year has nearly come to a close! Here I recap everything I read in 2015 in the order in which I read them, complete with rating stars and one-sentence (ish) reviews for your edification. I don’t generally like reducing opinions down to star-numbers, so if you want more comprehensive reviews, check out my previous posts or comment below for recommendations.
***** = I loved it! It made me feel things and had good writing.
**** = I enjoyed it, but it has one or more minor flaws.
*** = It’s ok, a mixed bag, but not memorable in the long run.
** = Glimmer of potential, but major flaws. I probably whined about to friends.
* = Oh gawd my EYES.
Doctor Who Short Story Collection: ****, Love letters from authors to their Doctors.
Room: ***, harrowing but a wee bit contrived: no 5-year-old is that well spoken.
The Woman Who Walked into a Door: **, Hard look at domestic abuse that fails to strike its mark soon enough.
The Queen of Attolia: ***, Love me some strong female politicians, but the talking and history lessons weigh down the plot.
The Martian: ****, Best science-y survival story this side of Apollo 13. I lso liked the movie.
Trigger Warning: *****, Neil Gaimain, short stories, ’nuff said.
A Darker Shade of Magic: ***, parallel universes and magic, writing not as good as I wanted it to be.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: ****, long and wordy, but left me wonderfully unsettled.
The Winter King: ***, captures the chaos and cultural diversity of a post-Roman Great Britain, but not wholly satisfying.
Being Mortal: *****, A call to face death with preparation. Made me cry. Non-fiction.
Snow Crash: ****, Clippy, inventive cyber-punk sci-fi.
Find Me: ***, Is it sci-fi? Is it magical realism? First half good, second half wander-y.
Touch: *****, Best body-snatching book I’ve ever read. Action, suspense, morality, everything.
Rebel Yell: **, Needs editing, predictable and dull.
Lock In: *****, Near-perfect example of modern, society-examining sci-fi.
Redshirts: ****, Funny and clever, but weirdly depressing and not as enjoyable as I expected.
Fragile Things: ****, Neil Gaiman, short stories. ‘Nuff said.
Nightblade, Mystic, Darkfire: **, This is why people don’t take fantasy or self-publishing seriously.
Shadeborn: ***, Mr. Robinson has found an editor, some momentum, and a character I halfway like. Still trope-y and confusing in spots.
Some Kind of Fairy Tale: ****, Haunting look at real people in a fairy tale situation.
Uprooted: *****, Gripping dark fairy tale, many layers.
The Checklist Manifesto: ****, Hard look at the personality-based medical hierarchy. Engineer ALL the things!
Voyage of the Basilisk: *****, Wonderful third installment of the adventures of the pseudo-Victorian dragon lady.
The Children’s Hospital: **, Confusing, convoluted religious metaphor that never quite lands. Unnecessary medical jargon is unnecessary.
Feed: *****, Thrilling combination of zombies and politics with a ballsy third act.
Ancillary Justice: ****, Bold space opera with an unconventional narrator and some pronoun funkiness.
Collapse: ****, Detailed examination of how societies survive, or don’t, for environmental reasons.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: ****, Darkly humorous look at how the death industry works in the US.
Between the World and Me: ****, Poetic, wrenching account of racism in the US.
The Hour of Mischief: ****, Dialogue-heavy romp through an inventive steampunk world.
Pop Travel/Simulation: *, Aggressively bad wanna-be sci-fi thriller.
Alice Takes Back Wonderland: ***, Fun adventure through fairy tales, drags a bit in the middle.
John Dies at the End: ***, Inventive genre-mash of horror and comedy, dissolves into a convoluted mess.
Seveneves: ***, Half emotional and thrilling, half ponderously science-y. Part III goes off the rails.
A Swift Kick in the Asteroids: ***, Humorous, irreverent, POV confusion dominates climax.
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel: *****, Moving, surreal, atmospheric journey through everyone’s favorite podcast world.
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk: ****, thoughtful, fun overview of the life and times of Starfleet’s famous captain, allows us to imagine him complexly.
Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might be Half-Dragon: ***, Contemporary YA fantasy about a dragon girl. Not much more or less.
The Name of the Wind: ***** Lyrical, beautiful, compelling. Fantasy in the Tolkien legacy, modernized in the best way.
First & Then: ****, Simple, touching YA realistic fiction about family, sports, and the future.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August: *****, Unconventional time-travel story that hits all the right notes and has wonderful suspense.
Wake of Vultures: ****, gritty, visceral Wild West fantasy with a category-defining protagonist.
Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas: ***, Absurdest post-apocalyptic journey with jokes that hit and miss.
Illuminae: *****, Epistolary sci-fi thriller that pushes the boundaries of book design. Fantastic suspense.
Planetfall: ****, Enigmatic, emotional sci-fi character study wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a lovely, shifting novel.
I just recently became aware of the “50-Book Challenge” for social media sorts, and I am annoyed that I come in just under the mark at 47. Ah well. Can’t say I failed at ‘doing things’ this year, what with the wedding and all the competitions and performances. Perhaps next year I can hit 50 on the nose.
And that’s that! May 2016 be full of good reads and exciting times for all.