The Top Three Books of 2012

It’s easy enough for people to make top five lists for whatever they enjoy, be it movies or songs.  A lot of these sort of lists start popping up in November, even though not everything is out at that point.

That’s why I wanted to wait for 2012 to be over before I did any sort of list.  In trying to come up with five things, I easily came up with three, but I could never firmly say any titles beyond those.  That’s why I decided I would do a top three list.  Not because I couldn’t find anything to fill out the list, but because these books are just that good.

Also, this is a list of books I read this year, not books released this year.  As such, you’ll see titles released a few years in the past, though not that many.  Clearly, 2012 was the year I found great things to read.

After winning practically every major award for fantasy fiction, Jo Walton’s Among Others found its way on my reading list.  Once I started to hear about it, I became increasingly curious.  I read it on my Nook and found that it was well worth the money I spent on it.

As I read this novel, a few things changed.  At first, I read it like one would read Dracula, discovering a story through entries in a journal.  Once I had a chance to really get to know Morwenna, I realized I was witnessing the most transformative time in her life.  Recalling events covering the course of almost a year, this tale of late 1979/early 1980 shows how a teenage girl tries to deal with losing her twin sister, getting to know her dad and his family for the first time in her life, and put up with life in an elite boarding school.

I should warn you now, Mori reads a lot of science fiction books.  She can read more books in a month than I can in a year.  That’s how much she reads.  There’s also magic, maybe, which is presented in a very interesting way.  It could be real or it could be a coping mechanism, and I don’t know which way the story is more compelling.

What I can tell you is that when I finished, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend, not just finishing a book.

I had similar feelings when I got to the end of Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin.  Like Among Others, Spin is presented in something of a journal form, the difference being that this is a recording of a lifetime, written as a recollection of three decades’ worth of cosmic-influenced events.

At the age of 12, Tyler and his two closest friends, twins Jason and Diane, are outside at night and notice all the stars in the sky vanish at once.  What seems just a peculiar event at first, in time reveals itself to be a membrane sealing Earth from the passage of normal time.  The world comes to see this as a doomsday scenario, with scientists foretelling the eventual expansion of the sun and religious factions forming in preparation of the last days.

Over the years, Tyler, our narrator, becomes a doctor and confidante of both twins.  Jason becomes a preeminent scientific mind in a think tank designed to find out the nature of the membrane around the planet, while Diane falls in with an ever-changing religious movement.  Through interactions in both settings, Tyler gets to see the full extent of how such a simple thing of changing our interaction with the universe changes who and what we are as a society.

And also like Among Others, Spin left me feeling like I was saying goodbye to some friends at the end, though for very different reasons I won’t spoil here.

Thieftaker, however, is the beginning of something new and interesting, mixing the historical novel with urban fantasy.

This “debut” novel from D.B. Jackson takes us on a smaller journey with Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker–one who finds stolen and missing goods–as he undertakes a murder mystery under the chaos of the Stamp Act Riots.  Jackson uses historical accuracy and detail to create a vivid world around Ethan, while showing just enough of the thieftaker’s past to make use feel like we know him, but not so much that we feel we know everything.

Another of the strengths of Thieftaker, is the looming threat of Ethan’s successful rival Sephira Pryce.  Sephira commands the attention of the scenes she’s in, proving just the right level of corruption for the audience to know she’s the villain, but not so much we want her gone.  While her priority is herself, Ethan’s is in doing his job right and doing his part as a loyal servant of the Crown.

There will be more in The Thieftaker Chronicles and that couldn’t make me happier.

Now you know the titles that grabbed me the most this year.  What did you enjoy reading most in 2012?


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