Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Debuts of 2016
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This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Debuts of 2016
I’m always excited at the end of each year to have discovered favorite debut novelists or new authors who have broken onto the scene for the very first time, and 2016 was no exception. Today I want to shine a spotlight on these rising stars and thank them for their wonderful debuts.
The Last One is a post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller about the world in shambles. There’s also a big-budget nationally televised survival reality show, with almost no lead time between filming and airing, starring twelve competitors. Only one of them can win. I can’t tell you how impressed I am that this is Oliva’s debut effort. She’s taken an incredibly unique idea and executed it in a very ingenious and ambitious way—and I think that boldness paid off in spades. I would definitely recommend The Last One to readers looking for a thought-provoking and eye-opening novel, especially if you like the idea of a very different kind of apocalyptic dystopian story. (Read my full review…)
Todd Lockwood is one talented guy. Not only is he a professional illustrator and a painter of beautiful dragons, with his art gracing a number of science fiction and fantasy covers, apparently he’s one hell of an author too. For years I’ve been an admirer of his work as an artist, so when it was announced that DAW was going to be publishing his debut novel my interest was immediately piqued, especially when I found out that his book is about—what else?—dragons! If you enjoy fantasy and adventure and dragons, you definitely won’t want to miss this. (Read my full review…)
I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started The Wolf Road, but once it started going I couldn’t stop! And to be honest, I’m surprised more attention hasn’t been given to the book’s “Western” vibe, as that really deserves to be front and center. Out of the novel’s many strengths, its harsh and gritty frontier-like atmosphere was what really stood out—a definite plus for me, considering there’s certainly no shortage of post-apocalyptic settings in the speculative fiction arena. This is an outstanding debut, incredibly well-written and carried out with impressive finesse. (Read my full review…)
This impressive fantasy debut by Chandler J. Birch definitely did not let me down. His style is confident and easy on the eyes, making the story flow remarkably smoothly from one scene to the next. The pacing is strong and hit no lulls, making this one a relatively quick read for an adult fantasy novel that clocks in at almost five hundred pages. Birch also nails the mood of the setting, successfully portraying it as the rough, gritty, and merciless environment it is without painting it too darkly. Notwithstanding some of the grueling obstacles in our protagonist’s path, The Facefaker’s Game reads more like a fantasy adventure without the weight of cynicism dragging it down. I’m curious to see where Birch will take his characters next, and you can be sure I will be pick up his next novel. (Read my full review…)
They say there’s a certain amount of truth in fairy tales. Despite their fantastical nature, the stories usually have some basis in reality, providing a moral compass during turbulent times, often teaching lessons which can be applied to one’s own life. If nothing else, the “trueness” may lie in the big picture rather than the details, such as the honesty of the character’s emotions or the essence of their relationships. Roses and Rot is a clever and emotional story of love, magic, and imagination. I loved it. I recommend Kat Howard’s debut highly, especially for creative types and lovers of all things Fae and fairy tale. A truly delightful treat for fans of contemporary fantasy who enjoy vivid settings, complex characters, and meaningful relationships. (Read my full review…)
Admiral is part mystery and part space disaster story, with shades of Alien. The unknown is a powerful source of fear but also curiosity, which is what made this book so compelling from the start. I ended up finishing this book in a little more than a day, because when every page is filled with a sense of urgency, it’s kind of hard to stop reading. Sean Danker is a debut author whose writing career I will now be following with great excitement and interest. I could easily go on and on with my praise for this novel, but because so much of my enjoyment was from learning its secrets, it’s probably best to leave the rest a mystery for readers to discover. (Read my full review…)
In this remarkable debut fantasy novel by Jordanna Max Brodsky, Greek gods walk the earth. They’ve actually been with us since time immemorial, but with the arrival of science, technology and new forms of faith, their powers have faded throughout the ages so that the ones who still living among us are practically human, barely hanging onto their immortality. The Immortals mixes popular tropes freely and generously, but in spite of this, its greatness is diminished not one single bit. It also didn’t take much convincing to get me on board with its suspenseful mystery plot. Brodsky’s prose feels natural and elegant, infused with a hint of casual humor which made this one a rather light fare even in the face of darker themes, and as a big fan of Greek mythology, I also enjoyed her fantastic and often witty portrayals of the gods. (Read my full review…)
Borderline is special. Very special. It’s completely invigorating and just what I needed to rekindle my excitement for urban fantasy. All told, it was exactly what I wanted from the genre: entertaining, original, and even meaningful. The fantastic cast further highlighted this read for me. Millie Roper is an incredible character and a complex, fully-realized protagonist. Her borderline personality disorder sometimes makes her emotions volatile and her behavior unpredictable, but I also found her very genuine despite her moods and thoughts constantly swinging in different directions. I loved her unique voice and wouldn’t have wanted anyone else at the helm of this wonderful story. Everything about this debut was a delight, and I highly recommend it. (Read my full review…)
Diving into a debut novel is always a bit of a gamble, but it can also prove exciting and extremely rewarding—especially when a book ends up surprising me or blowing away all my expectations. These are the moments I live for and this is exactly what I felt with The Last Days of Magic, a breathtaking historical fantasy saga about mysticism and mythology through the ages. Mark Tompkins offers a tale that sparks the imagination and explores the multilayered relationship between truth and myth. He has also created an incredible world filled with vivid characters, capturing the complex nature of faith, love, and conflicting loyalties. A stunning, evocative debut. (Read my full review…)
In this ruined world after the bombs fell, survival ain’t easy. Lack of food and lack of clean water can kill you as easily as raiders and crazies. Especially if you’re all alone. Our protagonist, known only as “Kid”, has been traveling by herself ever since her father died a few years back. On a lonely stretch of road, she finds herself weakening due to hunger and thirst, unsure if she’ll make it long enough to reach the next town where she can replenish her supplies. Desperation can make people do stupid things, she thinks to herself as she accepts a ride from two scary strangers who stop when they see her walking and offer her a ride in their truck. There was little reason for Kid to suspect that her chance meeting with the two of them would lead to an insane journey of many wild and bloody adventures. Bite does a fine job obliterating the lines between the “good” and “bad” guys, painting our main characters as the unlikely heroes of this fun and gory tale. (Read my full review…)