Best Books of 2017
It's that time of year, readers - the time of lists and recaps, of bests and worsts. Below are my top ten SFF books of 2017!
There are two caveats to this list. First, I'm only human, and I can't read everything published in 2017. It's entirely possible that I missed an awesome book. If so, comment and tell me so I can read it! Second, I am only including books that were published in 2017 on this list. I read a lot of books in 2017 that were published in 2016 or earlier, and those books will be excluded even if I scored them highly.
Got all that? Then without further ado...
10. Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys - 4.25 / 5
I'm not generally a big fan of horror, but I love the otherworldly creep-fest that is the Lovecraftian mythos. (I am the proud owner of a giant plush Cthulhu, for example). Emrys' Winter Tide then is squarely within my interests, a unique take on the mythos with none of the racism Lovecraft was known for. In fact, she turns that racism on its head. It's a rich, enthralling work that captivated me over the summer.
9. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson - 4.5 / 5
I haven't finished my review of Oathbringer yet, despite finishing it in November. But here's a spoiler: I loved it! Sanderson's epic (and I do mean epic) saga keeps getting better with every book. The man is a pacing machine; it's hard to make a 1,200 page book move quickly, but he manages it incredibly well. Roshar keeps getting more interesting, and so do the characters it supports. In particular, this book gave me new love for Adolin and Dalinar, who started as my least favorites back when I read The Way of Kings.
Full review coming soon! I'll update the post when it's ready.
8. Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel - 4.5 / 5
Picking up Sleeping Giants on a whim was one of the best decisions I've made recently, and its sequel Waking Gods was just as good. Neuvel's use of the epistolary formats works remarkably well, and his characters have vibrant, distinctive voices. He's also unafraid to pull punches, and like its predecessor, Waking Gods will sock you in the stomach at least once. And after one hell of a cliffhanger ending, I'm incredibly excited to see where he takes the series in third volume.
7. With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu - 4.5 / 5
Look, I like chicks wielding swords. But With Blood Upon the Sand goes far beyond that. Beaulieu has crafted a detailed, exquisite world, wrapped in mystery and enigma, and unraveling those questions is part of the fun here. Plus, you know, the giant battles and Ceda trying to kill a bunch of kings and blood magic and...okay, there's a lot of fun here.
6. City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett - 4.75 / 5
The Divine Cities trilogy has been something of a sleeper delight for me these last few years. Not that many people I speak to have heard of it, and yet for me, it has some of the best re-readability of any book I've read. It combines magic and technology almost effortlessly, and manages to pack all the drama of a spy thriller into a fantasy world on top of that. City of Miracles, last of the trilogy, caps it off spectacularly by focusing on Sigrud, our favorite battlerager. Yet for all the toughness that might imply, the ending made me cry. Enough said.
5. Skullsworn by Brian Staveley - 5 / 5
And now we come to it, the first of my five star reviews for 2017. Finishing Staveley's Unhewn Throne trilogy had me aching for the Pyrre standalone, and I put a lot of expectations on it. It blew them all out of the water. In the first few pages, it had me marveling over Pyrre's musings on life and death and music and so many other things. By the end, it had made me reevaluate how I view death. Staveley grows in leaps and bounds with each book he writes, and Skullsworn makes me believe even more great things on the way from him.
4. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab - 5 / 5
Schwab has a true gift for storytelling. It's evident in all the books in the Shades of Magic trilogy, but none more so than A Conjuring of Light. I mean, in like two chapters, she made me cry over a character I really disliked in both previous books. That's some powerful stuff. This conclusion has so many feels, perfectly paced and intermixed with wonderful character work, a terrifying villain, and beautiful prose. It's hard to pull off a graceful conclusion when your previous books have exploded in popularity everywhere, but Schwab manages it with aplomb.
3. Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee - 5 / 5
Look, if you haven't heard me babble about how much I love Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem yet, you haven't been listening. Lee has created a rich, fascinating world entirely separate from our own (as opposed to a "far-future" sci-fi), and it's glorious. It's chock-full of diverse characters and crazy technology and wicked math space battles (cooler than it sounds). Raven Stratagem in particular is twisty and turny and just so much damn fun. Oh, and the prose is stellar. OK, I'll shut up now. Just read it.
2. It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor - 5 / 5
I love the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, but I love It Devours! more. Fink and Cranor touch on fundamental questions of life effortlessly as they glide through this weird, delightful mystery. It's funny in their distinctive way, and yet still oddly touching. The characters shine against the strange backdrop of Night Vale, the male and female leads perfect foils to each other. Even if you haven't listened to the podcast, this superbly crafted tale is still well worth reading.
1. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin - 10 / 5
If you've been paying attention this year, this was the obvious winner. Jemisin deserves a third Hugo for this, and if she doesn't get it, I will consider it criminal. The Stone Sky is a masterpiece from start to finish, one of the most powerfully moving books I've ever read in my life. I laughed, I cried several times, and I walked away from it fundamentally changed. It's the highest praise I can give.
And that's it! Those are my top ten! If you haven't read them, you should absolutely give them a shot. As I said above, please feel free to share your top ten in the comments - I'm always looking for more books!