To round out my Favourite of 2014 posts, today I’m bringing you my Favourite 2014 Books, with books that were published in 2014, but weren’t a debut novel. With the amount of books I’ve read this past year getting them down to ten was tricky, as it usually is, but I did it. So without further ado, my top ten favourite 2014 books.
10. David Towsey – Your Servants and Your People
So how on earth does a novel featuring zombies end up on my favourites list? Who am I and what is wrong with me? I don’t even like zombies! I guess that if they are zombies written by David Towsey I don’t care, because I loved Your Servants and Your People. Towsey’s writing is great and very thoughtful and thought-provoking and I really can’t wait to see how he wraps up the McDermott story in Your Resting Place next year. So now would be the time to catch up on this series. As I put it in my review: “With Your Servants and Your People Towsey shows us more of his world and its scope, yet he also leaves plenty of questions to be answered in the last volume, Your Resting Place, and I look forward to discovering where Towsey is heading with the McDermotts. Your Servants and Your People was just as gripping and compelling as Your Brother’s Blood even if it was less action-driven and had more of a horror vibe due to the pervasive dread and threat. Despite the seven-year jump ahead and different setting, the book doesn’t really standalone. One could pick up the series here, but the reader would lose much of the story’s depth and intricacies. If you haven’t yet read Your Brother’s Blood, I highly recommend you pick up both of these books and give them a read, because they’re very much worth your time.”
9. Liu Cixin – The Three Body Problem
If you’d told me five years ago that I would be reading hard SF and loving it, I would have thought you were delirious. Yet here we are and I have an honest-to-god hard SF book in my top ten. As I ended my review: “The Three Body Problem is a fantastic book. I loved this story with its old-time SF sensibilities, real, scary aliens – you guys, the aliens! – mixed with modern tech. I want to know what happens next and how Earth will react to the news that “they” are truly out there. It is easy to see why Liu Cixin is so popular in China and I can only hope he’ll be just as popular in the rest of the world now his work has been translated to English. If you want a hard SF novel, mixed with history and social science elements, than I can’t recommend The Three Body Problem highly enough. It’s one of my favourite novels of the year and it will definitely feature on my Favourites of 2014 list in a week or two.” I loved Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem and I hope its success will open doors for more SFF in translation to be published.
8. Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak (eds) – War Stories
The first SF stories I fell in love with were all military SF, so War Stories was an anthology I was really excited about reviewing. But the anthology managed to surprise me with its depth, its thoughtfulness, and its hard look at the realities of war. I think it is one of the strongest anthologies I’ve read in the past few years. From my review: “War Stories is a great collection of stories that hold up on second reading beautifully, revealing more layers and meaning. I truly enjoyed the anthology and I hope that the follow-up volume mentioned on the Skiffy and Fanty show will come about, because I’d love to read more of these stories and to see how Gates and Liptak will select them. This is an intelligent, compelling anthology and one I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in military or social SF independent of their world views. The diversity in this collection of stories ensures that everyone will see themselves reflected.” Everyone go buy this anthology, so that second one will be made, because I need to read it!
7. Sophia McDougall – Mars Evacuees
Having been a fan of McDougall’s short fiction for a while, I was really looking forward to this one and staying true to form she didn’t disappoint. From my review: “I absolutely adored Mars Evacuees. It was fun, it was touching, and it was exciting; exactly what a children’s book ought to be. My beautifully doodled and signed ARC will be carefully put away until my girls have reached the proper age and I can read it to them. Because this is a book made for reading aloud. I read some pieces to my girls when they couldn’t sleep and it read quite easily, with a good rhythm and no tongue-trippers. I highly recommend Mars Evacuees. It’s a fantastic read for any geeky child, whether they are truly still children or just a child at heart.”
6. Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven
Station Eleven was a delightful surprise. This was a book that lived up to the expectations raised for it by my Twitter feed. As I concluded my review: “Mandel delivers a complex and compelling post-apocalyptic tale in a literary costume, one that I can see having lots of crossover appeal between genre and mainstream fiction readers. Great plotting, stunning writing and great characters, what more can a reader ask for? Station Eleven is a story that haunted my dreams while I was reading it and stayed with me after I finished it. It’s easy to see why it has been shortlisted for a National Book Award this year. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction I highly recommend picking up Station Eleven.”
5. Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios – Kaleidoscope
Not one but two anthologies on my favourites list this year! Only recently read and reviewed Kaleidoscope was a shoo-in for this list by the time I reached the fifth story in the anthology. It is such a strong and entertaining collection with such a fantastic lineup that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. From my review: “Kaleidoscope is a fantastic anthology, with an important central theme, one that is fitting for the year that saw the rise of We Need Diverse Books and the broader discussion that’s become more visible in the larger SFF community. I truly loved this collection and it’s one that deserves to be widely read and I hope to see some of its stories on award ballots next year.”
4. Tom Pollock – Our Lady of the Streets
Parting is such sweet sorrow… At least it is when the final book of a fantastic series is as good as Our Lady of the Streets is. I absolutely adored this series to pieces and with its conclusion, Pollock doesn’t just stick the landing, he gets a perfect score. From my review: “As I told the author on Twitter, after I finished the book: “my heart is in a thousand pieces and yet you left me with hope.” Our Lady of the Streets is a fantastic conclusion to an extraordinary series. Tom Pollock has proven he’s incredibly talented and I’m really excited to see where he’ll go next, even if I’m sad to be saying goodbye to Beth and Pen. If you haven’t yet read this conclusion to The Skyscraper Throne, what are you waiting for? If you’ve not yet picked up this series, I highly recommend that you do. It’s one of my favourite series of the last few years and one you shouldn’t miss.”
3. Robert Jackson Bennett – City of Stairs
You’ve probably seen this book swing by on a number of other ‘year’s end’ lists and that is for a reason. City of Stairs is a fantastic novel, showcasing Bennett’s considerable talent and delivering a compelling story. From my review: “Bennett only partly suggests answers for the above questions and I found myself pondering the possible answers trying to figure out what I thought the right ones were. City of Stairs was everything I hoped it would be; it was fresh, fascinating, very well-written, and thought-provoking. I’m glad to know we’ll see more of this world in a sequel called City of Blades according to Bennett’s website. City of Stairs is one of my favourite books of 2014 and I’ll definitely be back for more Robert Jackson Bennett in the future.”
2. Kameron Hurley – The Mirror Empire
If there was one book I had to work for this year, it was Hurley’s The Mirror Empire. But it was mental energy more than well-spent as this book blew me away. Hurley isn’t afraid to challenge the status-quo or to take risky choices in her fiction, which I loved. As I ended my review: “With The Mirror Empire Hurley has stepped into the epic fantasy arena and done so in a decisive and impressive way. The Mirror Empire is bound to make a splash in the epic fantasy pond comparable to Ann Leckie’s disturbance of the SF field with Ancillary Justice. Let’s hope it will be similarly rewarded and well-received come awards season. It’s certain to feature on my awards ballot come Hugo time next year.”
1. Kim Curran – Glaze
Glaze ending at the top of my list was a surprise for me too. If you’d asked me on January 1 which book I thought would be my number one, Glaze wouldn’t even have been on my radar because It hadn’t been announced yet, but here we are. Curran blew me away with this near-future dystopian SF story and it’s consistently been the story that sprang to mind every time people asked me for my favourite book of the year. As I said in my review: “I really loved Glaze. It’s very different from Curran’s Shift series, but it shares its snappy dialogue and great pacing. I also liked the fact that this is definitely a standalone story with a finished story arc and resolution, but with the sense that the story will go on without us. If you enjoy near future SF and socially aware stories, Glaze is just the ticket. Curran is proving to be a very talented writer, one who never fails to deliver in her stories, and I can’t wait to discover what else she can do.” Go read Glaze, you won’t be sorry that you did.