“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things”
It is that time of the year again when we look back at all the books that have been released in the last 12 months and pick our best reads. For me, 2011 has been a busy year, filled with fantastic novels: I’ve read just over 70 books, met authors and other bloggers and just had a good time.
But now I must pick my favourites. This has been a long and hard process. Make sure you comment to say what your favourite books of 2011 are! [Note that I am only including novels that have been published in 2011: I have read several excellent novels that have been published previously or will be published in the coming years. Note also that I do not count sequels to series: though I do have a separate award for sequels.]
Best Fantasy novel
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Even without having read a page, you can tell that Miss Peregrine is set to be a fantastic novel; there are close to one hundred authentic, peculiar vintage photographs framed within the pages that give the novel that extra dimension of intruige and mystery.
Best Dystopian novel
Divergent by Veronica Roth
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that Divergent is this year’s best dystopia. Unlike other dystopian novels, Divergent really is the next Hunger Games- it really shares the tone of Suzanne Collins’ bestsellers. Insurgent, the long awaited sequel, is coming in spring 2012.
Best Post-apocalyptic novel
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
There are many reasons as to why Moira Young is a genius, and all are because of Blood Red Road. The way she inhabits her characters voice so well, the delightful characters and teasing romance, the setting, the journey of Saba and her sister. Blood Red Road doesn’t really belong to any one genre, because it is more of an amalgamation of westerns, post-apocalyptic, fantasy and dystopian- and as such it can appeal to anyone. Just read it!
Best real-life/bildungsroman novels [because I hate picking favourites!]
One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite by Tom Clempson
Doesn’t the title say it all?!
An Act of Love by Alan Gibbons
This is a touching and profound exploration of friendship between a boy who becomes a British soldier and fights in Afghanistan and an extremist muslim. Alan Gibbons is so in touch with his characters it’s unbelievable, and the novel is stangely surreal as you read it: as if real life passes you buy as you delve within its pages.
Naked by Kevin Brooks
Ok, ok, perhaps Naked is historical fiction. But it’s also one superb bildungsroman. Quite possibly Brooks’ best yet, Naked takes us back to the London musical Punk scene of the seventies. It’s a lot about lost love and life and death and pain- but most of all it’s a riveting read that takes you back into the darker, dirtier world of urban music making.
Best Historical Fiction
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
I’m not sure how anyone can not have heard of this fantastic debut novel by Ruta Sepetys. It’s intense and harrowing, but it’s also very hopeful, and it belongs on everyone’s bookshelf- not least because it depicts a forgotten era of the 20th century, one that was as bad as Hitler’s Nazi regime. Just be prepared to let some tears loose.
Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
Possibly Riordan’s best, mainly because Percy’s back and as awesome as ever. Great action pieces, lots of laughter and some excellent new characters.
Death Bringer by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant just seems to get better- it’s fast becoming my favourite MG/YA series of the last decade. The book is darker, funnier and scarier than any of the previous novels. And we’re introduced to some delicious character conflicts and turmoils that really show us who Valkyrie and Skulduggery are.
Scrivener’s Moon by Philip Reeve
No ‘best of’ post is ever complete without a Reeve novel. Scrivener’s Moon has a very different feel to the previous Fever Crumb novels: it’s far more science-fictiony and it’s full of mystery and intruige. If you haven’t read Reeve before, I suggest you start with the Mortal Engines Quartet before moving onto the Fever Crumb prequel series.
The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
Still my favourite author when it comes to novels for younger kids.
Clash by Colin Mulhern
What a read- the tale of a friendship between two boys.
Brother/Sister by Sean Olin
Dark and scary, the protagonists are anti-heroes.
We Can Be Heroes by Catherine Bruton
A lovely tale of children and consequences.
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
A great origins story that precurses Shelley’s Frankenstein.