What a great year for reading 2013 was, 46 books in 52 weeks is the most books I’ve read in a single year. Accounting for the fact that I don’t really read at home and that four weeks of annual leave plus a week at Christmas and a week away on business adds up to six weeks without reading, that means I was more or less reading a book a week. Good going considering there were quite a few brick books in there!
Below I’ve summarised what I read during 2013 to give the highlights of the, mainly science fiction, reading world. I’ve split it between Series reads and individual stand-alone novels.
I read quite a few series during 2013 as well, finishing the amazing Void Trilogy that continues on from the equally amazing Commonwealth Saga. The Void Trilogy is set 1200 years into the future after the end of Judas Unchained and has some of the same characters such as Paula Myo, Ozzie, and Bradley Johansson. The Void Triology also introduces a fantasy element that is engrossing and which I could easily have read as a book on its own, it is simply that good.
Also read, in its entirely was the Enderverse starting with the fantastic Ender’s Game, continuing with the quite different but very good Speaker for the Dead, and with another four books as well read that are good (except War of Gifts, which was pointless). Now there is controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card’s reprehensible views on homosexuality and whether you should support him, but if I was to avoid all creative types who’s views I didn’t agree with, there wouldn’t be many books or music left for me to enjoy!
As well as the Enderverse, I read 8 books in the Honorverse, all of which differed in quality for me but were broadly similar in how they resulted in Honor coming through and generally being perfect. I get what some reviewers had said when they stopped reading the series because it was too same-y and Honor too flawless. I have currently stopped reading at book 9.
As well as reading Peter Hamilton’s Void Trilogy I also read his first books, the Greg Mandel series, which is absolutely excellent, very different from his later work being focused on a single character perspective and being more of a detective mystery bent set in a science fiction world after a ‘warming’ of the planet that has led to Mediterranean conditions in England and an entirely new system of Governments in the world. I recommend you give them a whirl, starting with Mindstar Rising.
The last series I finished in 2013 was the original Foundation Trilogy by the legend of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, which was very good. He wrote further books set in the same universe but I’ve heard less than great things about those with some saying they ruined the original trilogy.
Fantastic Individual Books
First there was The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom that is a wonderfully moving fable that addresses the meaning of life, and life after death, in a poignant way. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone as I think everyone will take something different from it. Best of all from my perspective is it is about a guy who works at an Amusement Park (Life Goal Number Five: Own a Theme Park).
Picture credit: Goodreads.com
Although Ender’s Game can be read as an individual novel and is definitely a five star novel and one of my favourite’s, the next great non-series book of 2013 was quite a long time later (I read a lot of series books) and is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which is a superb novel about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome and is written from a unique perspective in a very different style, a definite five star book for me (they don’t get handed out frequently) and is currently a play by the National Theatre at the Gielgud Theatre in London. You can read my review written in the style of the book on this very blog.
My next great novel of my 2013 reading list is The Inverted World by Christopher Priest, I found the book to be fantabidosy. The twist at the end threw me as I didn’t expect it and I found the novel and the concept interesting and clever. This is the second novel I’ve enjoyed by this author and as a result I will hunt down some more. A great book.
I started entering Goodreads Giveaways later in the year and the first book I won was The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison. It is a book I wouldn’t ordinarily have picked up and is a terrific story about a crime committed in Zambia. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have added A Walk Across the Sun to my to-read list and I am looking forward to reading it. You can read my review of The Garden of Burning Sand on this blog.
Image credit: Goodreads
My last fantastic individual book of the year (although it will be part of a series it stands on its own at the moment) is the Cleansing by Sam
Kates, a Welsh first-time published author who has a great concept and a well written story that really engages the reade
r. Sam is currently working on the follow-up novel ‘The Beacon’ and I am looking forward to reading that sometime in 2014 (hopefully). The book also has a terrific front cover.
Title: The Cleansing
Author: Sam Kates
Buy: Book Depository
Source: First Reads
Rating: 4 Stars
*I received this book for free as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an honest review*
I really liked The Cleansing by Sam Kates. I don’t read much post-apocalyptic fiction and entered the giveaway because this book sounded interesting. A warning though, reviewing this book without giving anything away is difficult, so be warned.
I don’t think I’m spoiling anything in a book called the Cleansing by revealing that humanity is (virtually) wiped out (it is in the blurb!). Although I’ve read little apocalyptic literature, the method of wiping out humanity is even something I’ve heard of before as a common method in this type of book. That being said, the way it is done, and why it is done is different and mysterious. You really want to know why this is happening and for what purpose.
This is a novel that is interesting, mysterious, and well written. There is a clear sense of the feelings of the survivors being brought to the fore, and the horror of the actual plague and the effects it has on society are explored well and in detail. During this phase of the book you are introduced to many families and individuals, including children albeit briefly.
The motivations, thoughts, and characters of the perpetrators are revealed slowly and the premise is something I found original. At times, despite the post apocalyptic setting, I felt I wasn’t reading a science fiction novel but a story about surviving in the face of adversity combined with a mystery.
I enjoyed it immensely, even if I do have to wonder about the empathy of an author who can write so easily about wiping out children. (The author explores that very thought and subject here.
In the book, not only is the horror that the survivors are living through skilfully and artfully explored and described but what happens to the world and society at large is littered throughout the story, cars everywhere, power failing, hospitals unable to cope without it being overbearing, it is just something that each character encounters on their arcs.
One of my favourite bits in the book (SPOILER AHEAD) is the President’s speech to the world.
The real shame for me was that the book was over so soon, at 300 pages I easily could have read more, two or three times the length which may have turned it into a brick book, but I like brick books (a la Peter F. Hamilton.)
So, Mr Kates, please write number two and I’d be happy to read it and find out what happens.
Some questions I’d like answers to in the next book(s):
– How would the ‘People’ have wiped out humanity pre-20th century?
– Did they have any involvement in the Black Death or Spanish Flu?
– How did they hide their advanced technology for thousands of years?
– If they live underground on their home planet but rejuvenate through the Sun, how does that work?
– I recall Peter stating humanity was more intelligent, yet the ‘People’ could cure cancer and develop the Millennium Bug…
Also, if like me the first page didn’t make sense when you first read it, read it again once you’ve finished this book and it is actually a great big clue slammed in your face that you just missed first time around!
Overall a great book, looking forward to the second in the series.