We’re a quarter of the way through 2022 already (whut) and when I saw this meme over at Books, Bones & Buffy it felt like a great way to observe the milestone. The format originated with girlxoxo to check in on the reads that made the biggest impression during the first part of the year. Let’s do this!
First Book I Read This Year
I started the year with Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go In The Dark, an SFnal literary debut that lots of people enjoyed more than I did. It might have helped if I’d known it was a mosaic novel going in, although I think I’d still have found it repetitive and forced. Those seeking tales of loss spurring insight / behavioural changes that right family wrongs may get more out of it.
First Review I Posted This Year
I kicked off 2022 with my 12 Days of Bookmas, my now-annual effort to catch up on my review backlog. This made my first review post of the year a mini-review round-up that covered The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James (damn good); The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (slightly underwhelming, although it left me curious enough to grab the sequel); and Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (which was basically delightful).
First Book Added To My Shelf
After the December bookflood, I was exceptionally well behaved: the only book I bought in January was Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham, the Goldsboro SFF subscription for the month.
First Second Book By A Debut Author
I’ve already mentioned How High We Go In The Dark, so let’s move straight along to the second debut I read in 2022: Inscape by Louise Carey (her solo debut), a pacy cyberpunk conspiracy thriller in which a gifted young agent is forced to seek out hard truths about her dystopian employer. This is a diverting read for those looking for action over world-building; I enjoyed it the way I enjoy a Hollywood blockbuster – and just like a Hollywood blockbuster, you don’t want to think about any of it too hard. Enjoy the popcorn.
First Second Third Book By A ’New To Me’ Author / First DNF
I’ve already talked about Nagamatsu and Carey so this one goes to Jamie Mollart, whose dystopian Kings Of A Dead World was unfortunately my first DNF of the year. The attraction was the intriguing premise: in the future, we ’solve’ for overpopulation by putting everybody into state-controlled hibernation most of the time. Unfortunately, I was unconvinced by the world-building – the concept needed rather more serious underpinning than it received in the first 100 pages, which I spent largely wondering how the fuck any of this was meant to work – and I was quickly alienated by all the POV characters, so I didn’t care to stick around and find out.
First Book By An Author I’ve Read Before
Also my first audiobook of the year: the delightful Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. I’m not a Clarke fan (I snored through her magnum opus), but I loved Piranesi for its playful whimsy and suggestively dark undertones. This charming tale was a beautifully gentle story I could happily dip in and out of (and the gorgeous tones of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s narration only added to the experience).
First Five Star Read
Time for another debut – and another new to me author (yes, I started 2022 in an explorative mood). This Is Our Undoing is a tense tale of buried secrets as Lina’s past catches up with her on a remote mountain reserve. I didn’t expect the way Lorraine Wilson crossed genre boundaries, but I absolutely loved the result: a haunting psychological drama of love and vengeance in a dystopian near-future. Well-realised characters, beautiful prose and plenty to say about immigration and identity. I can’t wait to read it again.
First Book That Slayed Me
Any excuse to talk about another of my favourite reads of the year so far! This goes to The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey, also the last book I read in the first quarter of the year. I loved this dark tale of treachery and trying to get away with murder for having such an uncompromisingly unlikeable protagonist, and for making me to feel an inkling of sympathy for both her and her absolutely horrifying ex-husband. Expert manipulation of plot; this is easily the best I’ve seen from Sarah Gailey so far and makes me very excited for what lies ahead.
What are your firsts this year?