Saturday, February 2, 2013

February Fantasy

I've been reading a lot of Young Adult fantasy literature lately--partly because I'm writing in the genre, partly because I just plain like it--and I thought I'd take the time to jot down some of my favorite titles. In no particular order, here's an unofficial top 10:

1. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games.  If you haven't read it, trust me: it's as good as they say.  Expert pacing, fully rounded characters, and incisive (but never heavy-handed) social commentary.

2. James Dashner, The Maze Runner.  The world-building is really cool, the plot moves along at breakneck speed, and the Maze itself is utterly brilliant.  I'm eager to see how it looks on the big screen when it comes out next year.

3. Gennifer Albin, Crewel.  Very high-concept, about a world in which women called Spinsters literally weave the stuff of reality.  The writing is as gorgeous as the weaving.

4. Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I'm not normally a big fan of paranormal romance, but this book, in which an angel and a devil (more or less) fall in love, is distinguished by great writing, a globe-trotting setting, and a backdrop of inter-species warfare that makes the love story particularly poignant.

5. Ann Halam, Snakehead.  A retelling of the Perseus and Andromeda myth that eschews action in favor of mood, setting, and character development.  Kind of the antithesis of the Percy Jackson books (which I like too, by the way).

6. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan.  I read this years ago, when I was a kid, and don't remember liking it.  When I re-read it, I was amazed: the sheer craft is breathtaking.  Nothing like being in the hands of an old pro like Le Guin.

7. Leah Bobet, Above.  Another paranormal romance, I guess--though what's brilliant about this book (aside from its one-of-a-kind style) is the fact that everything "paranormal" about it might easily be explained in terms of mental illness.  A really unusual, powerful reading experience.

8. Ruth Long, The Treachery of Beautiful Things.  Here's one where I didn't really care for the romance, but the setting--the fairy-land of traditional England--was richly and creepily imagined.

9. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.  If you've been reading this blog, you know I didn't like the film.  But I re-read the book beforehand, and I was struck again by how fresh, graceful, and beautiful Tolkien's tale is, even after all that's come after it.

10. Janet McNaughton, The Secret Under My Skin.  A post-apocalyptic tale that's stylish, thought-provoking, and moving.

So there you have it.  Here's hoping that around this time next year, I can add a book of my own to the list!

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