Another year, another enormous amount of time not wasted on my commute because BOOKS! Thank heaven for them. I read 42 books in 2018 – and if that number isn’t significant to you, get thee to a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy right now. (Possibly my all-time favorite book.)
This year I read some new things, some old things, some series that are finished and some that are making me wait a desperately long time for the next installment. From the 2018 pile, here are my favorites:
Obsidio, by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff
The first book in this series, Illuminae, made my Best of 2017 list. Obsidio is just as good, maybe better – if you can be better than holy-freaking-perfect. It’s straight sci-fi, a blissfully catastrophic whipped confection of science, greed, violence, rebellion, and emotion. It’s even visually stunning, and damned funny. Like a teen version of the Battlestar Gallactica reboot (be still my potentially Cylon heart), distilled into three shots of rocket fuel. That one line, that one page – THE MONSTER IS ME – hit me harder than any single reading moment of any book this year. (And the first book in their new series, Aurora Rising, is my most anticipated book of 2019!)
A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab
My review: 4.9/5 stars – I should have just given it full marks.
This book has everything I love, but mostly Lila Bard. She joined my highly selective pantheon of fictional female heroes, right up there with Princess (General) Leia and Hermione Granger. Plus, there’s Kell. And Rhy. And this book leads to the Essen Tasch, the magical pirate map and, and, and…. It’s everything. Bonus: There’s a whole line of Shades fan-merch by Jordandené that I you we all need to have. I have a few of her other shirts, but seriously: Put this As Travars shirt onmerightnow.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
Simply put: Read this book. If you want to laugh and cry, smile and cringe, love, despair, and be restored, read this book. It’s more effective than any New Year’s Resolution to make the world a better place.
Infernal Devices, by Philip Reeve
It’s tough to pick which of the Mortal Engines books is my favorite. Only in rare company is the sequel ever better (think Star Wars). But the third installment? To continue the climb? (Ahoy, Harry Potter. You get the picture.) I have typed/deleted/retyped both Predator’s Gold and Infernal Devices into this slot a few times. I’ve finally decided to go with the return of the Lost Boys, the introduction of Brighton, the rise of the Stalker Fang and, because it’s almost impossible to do well, the dreaded “Generation Gap”, in which an author skips ahead to the main characters’ kid(s) to keep the story going. As 4 Non Blondes once titled an album, Infernal Devices is bigger, better, faster, more.
War Storm, by Victoria Aveyard
I’m giving my last spot to War Storm, even though I rated quite a few books equally or higher this year. The Red Queen series had one of the best YA sci-fi/fantasy starts ever, and I knew it would be tough to maintain. Kings Cage (Book 3) stumbled a bit – the 4/5 star review I gave it was generous. But I so wanted this to hold steady. In the end, War Storm delivered all the satisfaction I needed: “Liberty! Equality! A backbone for Cal! Little-to-no Cameron!”, and a worthy finale for a standout series.