Contented Reader

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2012 Hugo nominees: best novel

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Among Others, by Jo Walton

This book works for me on a deeply emotional level.  The story of how a girl who doesn’t fit finds comfort in reading a lot of science fiction, and uses that as a source of strength to go out and deal with her life… well, that is a story that will resonate strongly for a lot of the people who will be reading a Jo Walton novel.   I’ve read this book several times since it came out, and even though it’s technically a new book, it has already assumed the status of a ‘classic’ in my brain, one of those books that is going to be a permanent part of my thinking.

A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin

I tried.  I really did.  Not because I wanted to read it, but because I felt a certain obligation to at least give it a chance before voting for the Hugos.  But.  Well, seriously.  Life is very short, and this book is very, very long.  I loved the first book in this series right along with everyone else.  I liked the second book.  I read the third book.  And it just keeps on going.  This series is a lot like the real world: it contains billions of people, most of whom I don’t care a bit about, and if there’s a point to it all, I don’t know what it is.

Deadline, by Mira Grant

How much of a literary crush on Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire do I have?  But this middle book in the Newsflesh series is, I think, the weakest of the three.  After I read Blackout, the final book in the series, I had an extremely vivid dream in which I was kicking the asses of zombies.  Put that book on next year’s ballot, and I’ll be right there with you.  But while I have a huge literary crush on Mira Grant, and while I enjoyed the hell out of this series, I just don’t think that Deadline was the best novel of the year.

Embassytown, by China Miéville

This is the most literary book on the list.  This book is elegant.  It’s also good science fiction, a book that really tries to imagine the ways in which an alien would be fundamentally different from us.  In terms of craft- the quality of the writing, the strength of the story- I suppose this is the best book on the list.  That might even be objectively true.  But it’s also probably the least accessible book on the list.  It demands a lot from a reader.

Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey

It took me quite a while to get into this book.  “Meh,” I said, while reading it.  “I guess I have to read some more of Leviathan Wakes, so I can finish it and go read something more interesting.”  Then I got to the vomit zombies.  And suddenly, I cared what happens next.  If nothing else, this is definitely the best book about vomit zombies of 2011.


Written by Contented Reader

July 11, 2012 at 8:00 am

Posted in Reviews


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