Top Ten Tuesday: best reads of the year so far

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday is was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week, we’re enthusing about what books we’ve loved best so far this year (regardless of when they were first published).

Much of my reading in the first half of 2018 was published last year, as I’ve been immersed in the Subjective Chaos reading list. Unsurprisingly – given we maintain it was some of the best fiction from last year – it’s some of the best fiction I’ve read this year so far…

Persepolis Rising – James S A Corey

I know this year has been longer than I realise because I can hardly remember reading the most recent book of The Expanse before I got stuck into the Subjective Chaos lists.But I do recall the jaw-dropping shock that it starts and ends with, and the emotional harrowing in between. This series goes from strength to strength – you can’t really jump in mid-way through, but it’s well worth your time to start at the beginning and join the rollercoaster.

The Fifth Season / The Obelisk Gate – N K Jemisin

…I mean, they both won the Hugo. The third book is nominated for another Hugo. I really shouldn’t have been surprised that these knocked my socks off, but honestly The Fifth Season absolutely staggered me. The world-building is fresh, the characters are absorbing and the storytelling is relentless. I’m still in bits. I may always be in bits.

White Tears – Hari Kunzru

I’ve been meaning to read Kunzru for a while, and I’m glad I did. This is a literary ghost story of privilege and revenge, which I enjoyed rather less than I appreciated – but I appreciated it a lot. It’s beautifully written, and remarkable for passionately taking on racism and societal imbalances without ending up as polemic. An absorbing car crash of a tale.

Metronome – Oliver Langmead

I wasn’t familiar with Oliver Langmead and if you aren’t either than I’ve got one thing to say to you: get introduced. Langmead’s world of dreams is by turns haunting and glorious, and his aging hero William is delightful company. I loved this book – it’s lyrical, fanciful and emotionally satisfying.

The Rift – Nina Allan

Another quiet, introspective tale, this one is – arguably – barely SFnal at all in spite of it hinging on whether a teenage girl spent twenty years on another planet. It takes a long, considering look at the ties that bind us to our families and the ways in which we build trust and love. Thought-provoking and ambiguous.

In between the reading lists, I’ve had a chance to pick up some new releases too – and gosh I’ve got lucky with my choices this year (I’m lying. I haven’t got lucky. I’ve been really picky because I’ve been sneaking books in between awards reading, and IT’S BEEN EPIC).

The Boy on the Bridge – M R Carey

Yes, yes, we’ve read it all before, but when it’s done well it doesn’t matter. Carey once again proves that a compelling central relationship and a fine sense of pacing will let you transcend tropes to deliver a fine yarn. A companion novel as much as a prequel, this works on its own terms – and chronology be damned, you should read The Girl With All The Gifts first.

Revenant Gun – Yoon Ha Lee

My space opera obsession of the past 3 years comes to a triumphant end with Revenant Gun. Yoon Ha Lee once again finds new ways to make me squirm (not least by managing to at least temporarily evoke sympathy for an amoral, self-interested mass-murderer) as he wraps up his trilogy. Expect politics, consequences, space battles, robot fandom, and redemption.

Embers of War – Gareth L Powell

…this may be the next space opera I don’t stop talking about. It cherry picks things I get really excited about (sentient space ships, salvage teams, mysterious alien relics) and then deploys them in an action-packed story of regret, stubbornness and yes, more consequences and redemption (what, I love those as themes). This works on its own, but promises even bigger things for the future.

The Bitter Twins – Jen Williams

You can’t pick this one up unless you’ve read The Ninth Rain, but don’t worry – that was one of my favourite reads of last year. Jen Williams gives us a brilliant sequel that expands her world, destroys it and left me hoarse from shouting NO. Don’t ask ‘What would Hestillion do?’ – she’s not the moral compass you’re looking for, just the one you won’t want to take your eyes off.

City of Brass – S A Chakraborty

Speaking of dubious moral compasses, this fantasy gives us glittering, compromised characters as it explores racism and religious prejudice within a djinni society. We’ve seen the arc and the love triangle before, but the tale is fresh and urgent thanks to its awesome setting and many twists. Don’t expect resolutions – this is the first in a trilogy.

…not to forget my fave novella – The Murders of Molly Southbourne – but we’ll be talking more about bite-sized books next week!

What are your favourites so far this year?