#RRSciFiMonth Top 10 Science Fiction Novels Read This Year
As this will likely be my last post for Sci-Fi November, I hope everyone has enjoyed the science fiction related goodies we’ve featured at The BiblioSanctum this month, I also want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Rinn Reads and Oh, The Books! teams for running such a successful event! This was my first year joining in the fun, and I’d love to continue the tradition.
Anyway, I thought to myself, what better to wrap up the month’s event with a Top 10 list of the best Science Fiction novels I’ve read in 2014? It was certainly a tough choice narrowing it down, since I read a lot of books this year, but these are the sci-fi books that really stood out for me and I hope you’ll check them out.
I’ve always been fascinated by stories that explore what it means to be human. This book is set in a future after the world has suffered the effects of a devastating virus. To survive meant genetically modifying almost every new person born on this planet, but in order to repopulate and rebuild, the engineers went further. They created different kinds of genetically modified humans (“Gems”), who were essentially nothing but humanity’s tools. Despite its futuristic setting, Gemsigns is a powerful novel as it is utterly significant and relevant to the world today. Want a great piece of social science fiction? Check this one out. (Read the review…)
I’ve been singing the praises of John Scalzi for along time, as many of his books were my gateway to the sci-fi genre. If you want light, humorous science fiction that’s also accessible and not too overwhelming and heavy-handed with the hi-tech jargon, I really recommend his books. However, Lock In surprised me with its depth and moments of thoughtfulness, and I also feel it is a next step for the author. That being said, it’s still pure Scalzi in terms of being fun and entertaining, with easy prose and plenty of witty, snappy dialogue. (Read the review…)
The popularity of this book blew up this summer, and for good reason. This is one smart book, complete with cool premise and engaging characters. And you don’t have to have a degree in astrophysics to enjoy it, though it does get technical at times. But at its heart, The Martian is an incredible tale of one man’s survival, using only his wits and astounding ingenuity to problem solve his way out of one life-threatening catastrophe at a time. And the most pleasant surprise? It’s humorous. Prepare for lots of laughs along with the tension and suspense. (Read the review…)
This is the fourth book of what I think is probably my science fiction series right now. Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck who make up the team of James S.A. Corey continue to develop the characters and build upon the world of The Expanse, and Cibola Burn is the best installment yet. I’m not surprised that an adaptation of this series is being made and coming soon to TV, as these books are a perfect mix of science fiction chills-and-thrills and the passion and weight of human drama. I’m really looking forward to it. (Read the review…)
Earth Girl takes place in the far-flung future, starring eighteen-year-old Jarra. There are many names for people like her: Handicapped. Throwback. Nean. Ape. All of them mean one thing: that she is among the one in a thousand born with an immune disorder that confines her to earth. Jarra can’t visit any of the multitude of worlds humans have colonized, because she would go into anaphylactic shock in seconds and die. Distinct, unconventional and unique, this book breathed new life into the Young Adult genre for me. Oh, and it has archaeology! (Read the review…)
When you read Defenders, look for the forest, not the trees. Just as you weren’t supposed to pick apart the minutiae of cryogenics in McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty (another amazing novel), you shouldn’t get too hung up on the logistics of an alien invasion or the ins-and-outs of bio-engineering a whole new warrior race, just to name a couple of main themes in this book. This sci-fi novel isn’t so much about the “science” than it is a thought-provoking social fiction piece exploring how humanity might approach an “us vs. them” situation. Needless to say, if you enjoy “what if” stories, this would be the ideal book for you. (Read the review…)
This book is a deep analysis and portrayal of Caterina Novak, daughter of a brilliant yet eccentric inventor and cybernetics expert. Cat is five years old when she first meets Finn, the android her father brings home to be her tutor. But as Cat grows, she discovers Finn is different from other androids. With every year that passes their relationship becomes increasingly complicated, as Cat starts to see Finn as someone more than just a tutor and friend. The premise is a cool idea, but the powerful emotions behind it is what made this book stand out for me. Be sure as well to check out the BiblioSanctum interview with Cassandra Rose Clarke to find out more about this fascinating and heartbreaking novel. (Read the review…)
I’m putting the series as a whole on this list, because all three books have a part in making up this very strong trilogy, which I highly recommend for anyone looking for a fun, fast-paced and action-filled sci-fi read. If there’s one thing to take away from these books it is that Rachel Bach (who also writes as Rachel Aaron) never does things by halves. That’s the beauty of the Paradox series. Everything about it is larger than life, from the in-your-face main character Devi Morris to her sexy and suave love interest Rupert Charkov, or the amazing planets and exotic aliens to the twisty plot filled with adventure and thrills. It’s pure candy for the mind. (Read the reviews…)
The Everness sequence is another series I’d like to feature as a whole on this list. I really wish there were more young adult novels like this out there. Up to three books so far, the latest installment Empress of the Sun was probably my favorite, and it’s always awesome to see when the books are just getting better and better. Because Everness is about alternate dimensions and the Multiverse, you just never know where the story might take you next! When it comes delivering excitement and adventure, Ian McDonald knows his stuff. Absolutely fantabulosa. (Read the reviews…)
VanderMeer is best known for his contributions to “New Weird”, a literary genre that’s been hit or miss with me – so that’s why I had my misgivings when I approached this book. But wow, am I glad I decided to give this one a shot. Yes, the story is weird and a bit surreal, but what I didn’t anticipate was how thoroughly atmospheric and intense it was. The book satisfied my appetite for Horror with its strange and unsettling elements, and it also surprised me with the heart-wrenching melancholy and the haunting quality to the narrator’s narration. This was a short read, one that blew by even faster than I expected because I enjoyed it so much. (Read the review…)
I told you I would have a hard time narrowing this down to ten. Too bad this isn’t a top 15 or even top 20 list. The following are books are nonetheless highly recommend:
Author Naomi Foyle has a remarkable way of giving me all the feels. I have been shocked and disturbed by some of the ideas in her books, but likewise there have been times where the touching beauty of her writing has bought me to tears. Her stories might not necessarily read like heart-pounding thrillers or page-turners, but no matter what, they always pack a powerful punch. That most certainly describes Astra, a bold dystopian tale about a girl growing up in a closed and isolated nature-worshiping community called Is-Land. (Read Mogsy’s and Wendy’s reviews…)
The stunning conclusion to the awesome Last Policeman trilogy. Imagine a world where everyone has known for the past year that a gigantic killer asteroid is hurtling towards earth, set to impact in just a matter of days. Tsunamis will wipe out the coasts, atmospheric dust will black out the sun, and life as we know it would cease to exist. When the news first dropped, Hank was among the small minority who’d decided to carry on as usual, but now it’s interesting to see how his motivations have changed since the first installment. Doomsday has finally come, and you’ll just have to pick up this series and find out what happens. Believe me, these books are worth the read (Read the review…)