I like year-end reading recaps. Since there are just some things that can't be summed up in a top ten list (though I'll do that as well), I'm doing a 20 Questions-style recap. If you want to participate and use this list as well, go here to find out how.
And the best/worst of 2013 are...
- Best book of 2013? More Than This. Usually, I have to stare at my yearly top ten list for half an hour before I make up my mind. This year, there was no question. I pretty much knew that More Than This would end up being my favorite of the year as soon as I read it.
- Least favorite? Dragonspell. What was that, even? It was painful to get through the entire thing. The main character named her dragon Gymn (so basically "gym"), for goodness' sake. What else do you need to hear?
- Favorite cover? Either Railsea or Touched. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be Touched. Both are unique, and visually interesting. Railsea is intriguing, because, well, how often do you see a book cover with a train wreck off one edge? Touched, while no more than an okay book, is gorgeous. The haunted-looking amusement park is creepy and beautiful at the same time.
- Most eagerly awaited book? Light. I've been with the Gone series for a few years now, and I couldn't wait to see how it would end. There was a lot riding on this final book, and I was ready for some answers. The Runaway King also deserves mention.
- Favorite new series you discovered in 2013? The Monstrumologist. While it's not new this year, I didn't discover it until a few months ago. The writing style is lovely and poetic, and also unsettling, because it's at its most poetic when it's describing a gory or creepy scene. And this series has plenty of those.
- Most disappointing book? My Favorite Band Does Not Exist. The premise was so cool--a character trapped inside a book (convinced that he's going to die in chapter 64), and an alternate reality in which the fake viral internet band created by said character exists. It let me down. I tried to like it, but it was just too bizarre, not to mention poorly written. I also wanted to love Project Cain, which had all the ingredients for a super-suspenseful novel. Instead, I had to endure almost four hundred pages of solid telling.
- The book you expected not to like but were pleasantly surprised? Contemporary romance is not typically my thing, so I was fully prepared to be, at best, indifferent towards the much-loved The Fault In Our Stars. In fact, I ended up loving it.
I was about to say "loving it to death" but that probably isn't appropriate in this context.I was also ready to be annoyed with The 5th Wave for being just another of the zillions of dystopians that came out this year. Instead, though, it stood out from the crowd, and I'm glad I read it. (Don't worry--I got my chance to be the Grumpy Cat-esque reviewer on other books that everyone except me seems to love, like Ender's Game and Across The Universe.)
- Book you recommended most often? The Book Thief. I'm not surprised at all; it's been a few years since I read this (I need to reread it), but my love for it hasn't yet faded. My runners-up were Falling Kingdoms, Every Day, and Eon: Dragoneye Reborn.
- Freebie! (Favorite quote, favorite scene, etc.) I'm going with quotes. Here's one I loved: "I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is inprobably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?” -John Green, The Fault In Our StarsAnd another: “He's seeing the actual Milky Way streaked across the sky. The whole of his entire galaxy, right there in front of him. Billions and billions of stars. Billions and billions of worlds. All of them, all of those seemingly endless possibilities, not fictional, but real, out there, existing, right now. There is so much more out there than just the world he knows, so much more than his tiny Washington town, so much more than even London. Or England. Or hell, for that matter.
So much more that he'll never see. So much more that he'll never get to. So much that he can only glimpse enough of to know that it's forever beyond his reach.” -Patrick Ness, More Than This
- Best review you wrote in 2013? More Than This was one of the hardest reviews to write, but I think it ended up being one of the best. My review of A Feast For Crows probably deserves mention because I basically just wrote about the fact that I read this series like it's some high fantasy version of Survivor.
- Book that had the most impact on you? More Than This claims yet another category. It had such an impact because of the questions it asks of readers, and the way it makes you rethink everything. It's one of those books that questions the very existence of reality. What defines reality? More importantly, though, More Than This goes beyond any other reality-questioning book and asks: "Does it matter?" To me, this second question gives it so much more meaning. Though it was one of the saddest and most emotionally intense books I read this year, it was also one of the most hopeful.
- Most emotional book (for you, or the characters, or both)? The Fault In Our Stars. Before I even read this, I had read enough reviews to know the ending. I thought this would lessen the impact, but I believe it actually made it worse. I spent the whole book not wanting to care about a certain character because of this knowledge, but I found myself unable to not care. I didn't physically cry at the end, but I did spend ten minutes with my face shoved into a pillow, trying to comprehend my feelings. Does that count?
- Best of genres:
- Fantasy? Froi of the Exiles. Melina Marchetta creates some of the most fantastic characters I've ever read, and I want to know her secret. Runners-up: A Feast For Crows, Falling Kingdoms
- Sci-fi? Ready Player One. I'm not a gamer, and I have no obsession with the 80s, and yet I still really enjoyed this book. It's a little odd, but unique and exciting.
- Dystopian? Either Light, The 5th Wave, or Railsea. They're three completely different books, but I loved all of them.
- Realistic/Contemporary? The Fault In Our Stars. I grudgingly picked this up, but I'm so glad I did. I already know the movie is going to hurt--anyone who goes to see it without reading the book first will have no idea what hit them.
- Historical? The Monstrumologist (and its sequels). This isn't strictly historical--it's more historical sci-fi, but I'm going to count it anyway.
- Paranormal? There wasn't a paranormal book that I absolutely loved, this year, but out of the ones I liked, my favorite was probably Necromancing The Stone.
- Classics? Frankenstein. This is one of my favorite classics, not just this year, but of all time. It's beautifully written, with a fascinating storyline and nuanced characters.
- Other? More Than This is tough to classify, so I might as well mention it here.
- Book that didn't quite live up to the hype? I have many of these--to many to name here. Ender's Game, Across The Universe, The Thief, I Am Number Four, and Allegiant, just to name a few. Sometimes, I read a book that I wouldn't have normally read, just to see what all the fuss is about. In a few cases, this has rewarded me. More often than not, though, I just find myself thinking, "Really? Thousands of people love this? Ugh, why?"
- Most gorgeously written book? The Monstrumologist, The Fault In Our Stars, and More Than This are all written beautifully. Each writing style is completely different from the others, but they'll all awesome.
- Most shocking scene? (Mark all spoilers!) [Spoilers here for A Storm of Swords.] Most authors: "Oh, I see that you love that character, and that he/she is a main character. I'll fake their death 800 times, but we all know they'll never actually die." George R. R. Martin: "Muahahaha, you like this character? You love this one? Well, how do you like THIS? *swings ax*" In short, the Red Wedding killed off a good portion of the remaining characters that I actually liked. Every so often, I see something on Pinterest about an A Song Of Ice And Fire-themed wedding. Have these people never read the series, or what? If I ever am invited to an aSoIaF-themed wedding, I'm not going because I prefer to survive.
- Best character? Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Jaron, Magnus, Edilio, Leo Valdez, Sturmhond. I can't pick just one.
- Book you can't believe you didn't read until 2013? Froi Of The Exiles has been sitting on the shelf since 2011, and I don't know why I waited so long to read it.
- Book you never got around to reading in 2013 but will definitely read it in 2014? Champion and The 100. Both look awesome, but neither of my library requests came through in time.
- Book you are most excited for in 2014? Avalon. I can't wait to read this. If nothing else, the cover is fantastic.