Sunday, January 06, 2013

Books Read In 2012 : My Top 5 Favorites

I read 37 books in 2012. At the top of this post is a montage of the covers of the books. As you can see, most of the books are either mysteries, science fiction or fantasy. Here are my 5 favorite books I read in 2012.
5. The White Lioness by Henning Mankell. This is the 3rd book in the Inspector Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell. Mankell sets his books in Sweden but in this book a lot of the action takes place in South Africa, in the early 1990s when apartheid is crumbling. It is a very suspenseful and action-filled book and convinced me that I want to read as many of these books as Mankell is willing to write! They are an interesting mix between police procedural mysteries and suspenseful thrillers. 
4. Deepsix by Jack McDevitt. This is the second book in Jack McDevitt's Priscilla Hutchins series but the first one I was able to finish. McDevitt's series is a new sub-genre of "future archeology" where the books are set in the future (22nd century) but the main activity of the book revolves around the exploration and discovery of ancient civilizations, often on different planets. This particular book is set on a planet (called Deepsix) on which an archeological mission goes horribly wrong a short time before the planet itself is about to be destroyed by a cataclysmic collision with a celestial object. 
3. The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham. This was the best fantasy book I read in 2012, taking the place of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons from 2011. This is the second book in the Abraham's The Dagger and the Coin series. Abraham uses the same format as Martin, with each chapter being named after a particular character and events told from their perspective. Like Martin, Abraham has very little compunction in killing off even his named characters and even though the series is not as compelling as A Song of Ice and Fire, it definitely has its moments and the question of what will happen to the female banker Cithrin, the cowardly soldier-cum-scholar Geder and the mercenary with a heart of gold Marcus sustains the reader's interest and eagerness for the next book in the series. 
2. Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge. This was the first book I read in 2012 and one of the very best of the year. It is the third book in Vinge's much-acclaimed Zones of Thought series which includes the classic works A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep although it was published more than a decade after the previous one. Vinge forwards the story in a very interesting way and again does what he does so well: immerse the reader in an exquisitely described, alien society and then set a plot in motion that is absolutely captivating and satisfying resolved. 
1. Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey. Interestingly, James S.A. Corey is a synonym used by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck writing together, so 2 of my top 3 books are largely created by Daniel Abraham. Caliban's War could hardly be more different from The King's Blood. The latter is sword-and-magic fantasy while the former is "hard" science fiction with a military bent. Caliban's War is a sequel to Leviathan's Wake which was probably the best science fiction book I read in 2011 (but probably edged for the overall top spot by A Dance with Dragons). It has it all: compelling characters, clear but evocative writing and a suspenseful plot which defies the reader to put the book down for any other reason but addressing urgent bodily functions. Its sequel, Abbadon's Gate is my most anticipated book release of 2013.
I read other notable books in 2012 as well. I discovered the work of Tobias Buckell, Peter Robinson and Brent Weeks. I look forward to reading more of their work in 2013, especially the mysteries of Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks.

Alastair Reynolds released the first book in a science fiction series in 2012 (Blue Remembered Earth) and although I enjoyed it, it did not quite make the Top 5 of the year's reads. So did Peter Hamilton, but I intend to read Great North Road in 2013.

What good books did you read in 2012?

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