First of all, I stayed up late to finish Insurgent by Veronica Roth last night (the final novel in her Divergent trilogy). If I’d finished it before Tuesday, it would have made my best YA list, so I’m giving it a shout-out right now. The ending was…something. Veronica Roth didn’t play it safe writing this one; she took a big risk, and while I’m sure some readers didn’t like what she did, for me I felt like she avoided the easy way out and instead opted to say something important. So I’m entirely on board with the book.
And now I’m going to switch my focus to adult fiction. Well, adult fiction and one memoir.
The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls’s memoir of her childhood was fascinating and well-balanced in showing both tender and excruciatingly difficult moments. I did find myself wishing for more time spent on her adulthood so I’d be able to see her character arc more clearly, but I do understand that wasn’t the purpose of this memoir.
My Favorite Adult Novels of the Year:
Nexus and Crux, both by Ramez Naam
These two science fiction novels have probably gotten the majority of my in-person talking up time this year. Near-future, cool ideas, compelling characters, page-turning thrillers. What’s not to love? I can’t wait for the next one to come out.
Old School, by Tobias Wolff
I picked this up after my friend Rahul recommended it and I was not disappointed. It’s literary fiction set at a boys’ boarding school, and the protagonist is just so interesting to hang out with for a while. The stakes in the story are, for the most part, relatively small, but I actually really get invested in small stakes in many stories, and this was certainly one of those cases.
Love Minus Eighty, by Will McIntosh
When I heard Will McIntosh was writing a novel based on his Hugo award-winning short story “Bridesicle,” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And this time, my anticipation paid off. The world building is strong and I love how the idea of “Bridesicles” introduced in the short story was further developed. I also loved that this was an interesting science fictional story that also incorporated romantic elements to good effect.
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke
I’ve heard this novel compared to vN by Madeline Ashby, which made my list last year, but while both novels are about robots, they are very different in tone. Where vN is more an adventure story, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter has a slower pace and a more literary voice. It is not so much a story about robots as it is the story of the coming of age of a girl, and how her relationship with one robot changes and affects her over the course of her life. And it was so beautifully done. io9 has a fantastic review if you want to learn more.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
I had never read anything by Shirley Jackson apart from her famed Lottery story, and I decided it was time to change that. This novel features one of the best examples of an unreliable narrator I’ve had the joy to experience. It’s creepy and sneaky and liminal, and it could be read as completely realistic or as fantastical or as simultaneously both.
Thinking back on these novels has made me so happy. So much amazing writing! Here are some other adult novels I’m looking forward to reading soon. They’re all already out, and the last four are even in my possession.
Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi
The Dud Avocado, by Elaine Dundy
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
Sister Mine, by Nalo Hopkinson
iD, by Madeline Ashby
Ironskin, by Tina Connolly
Map of the Sky, by Felix J. Palma
River of Stars, by Guy Gavriel Kay
What novels have you read this year that stand out for you? What novels are you excited to read? Any 2014 releases you want to clue me in about?