Top Ten Tuesday: 2022 favourites

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday 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. Today, we’re sharing our favourite reads of the year – so what were my best reads of 2022?

2022 reading was a very even mix of fantasy and scifi, although my favourites have ended slightly tilted to SF as I’ve focused purely on first time reads for today’s list (half my 5 star reads were rereads – with an honourable mention to She Who Became The Sun, which was just as devastatingly good second time around as it was when it made this list last year). Nearly half the list are 2021 releases nominated for the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards (always contributors to the highlights of my year) with a similar number of 2022 releases and 2 backlist gems. And yes, I’m making it a top twelve rather than a top ten because it’s my top ten and you can’t stop me.

Book cover: This Is Our Undoing - Lorraine Wilson

The now multi-award-winning This Is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson is a genre-blurring tale that asks how far we’d go to protect the ones we love. Set in a near-future Europe fractured by climate change and fascism, this uncanny thriller had me at hello with its conflicting themes of love and vengeance and its brittle, beautiful characters. A brilliant debut novel.

In The Bruising of Qilwa, magic systems and cultures collide as an immigrant healer investigates a series of deaths that could trigger a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment. Naseem Jamnia’s novella is a delight, from its lean, flowing prose to its distinctly Middle Eastern world-building and its private, prickly protagonist. I loved the way family – blood and found – was front and centre.

Book cover: The Bruising of Qilwa - Naseem Jamnia
Book cover: Meet Me In Another Life - Catriona Silvey

I enjoyed Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey far more than I expected: mysterious, beautiful and coy in holding back its SFnal nature until the final act. Instead, we get a glorious series of character vignettes as a confrontational angry girl and a soft, gentle boy meet in life after life as friends, lovers, family, colleagues. Their roles change, but a burning question emerges as they begin to remember themselves: why are they always drawn to Cologne?

2022 was the year of Sarah Gailey for me, because I adored both The Echo Wife and Just Like Home – dark novels of unlikeable, isolated women and their traumatic histories. The Echo Wife is an entirely brilliant conceit (would you help your illegal clone cover up your ex-husband’s murder); Just Like Home is a deeply discomforting acknowledgement that we don’t get to choose our family, but we can choose our home. And hooboy, choices are made.

Book cover: Just Like Home - Sarah Gailey
Book cover: The Immortality Thief - Taran Hunt

Possibly the most fun I had all year, Taran Hunt’s space opera debut The Immortality Thief is an action-packed ride through a spaceship of nightmares. A glorious mash-up of favourite tropes, plenty of atmosphere and a compelling enemies-to-allies arc for the central three characters made this a book I didn’t want to put down (and I’m delighted to hear there will be other books set in this universe).

2022 was the year I was finally strong enough to return to The Broken Earth and complete the trilogy (this time via Robin Miles’s excellent narration, which means no reading notes and likely no review beyond AAAAH). I love the way this trilogy destroys and renews and evolves and challenges from start to finish. Just brilliant.

Book cover: The Stone Sky - N K Jemisin (a green archway)

Andrew Skinner knows exactly how to unlock my cold, reptilian heart: shared consciousness, affectionate AI, overwhelming odds, impenetrable shadows. Origin Complex echoes and expands Steel Frame, exploring the source of the virus and considering how life can linger after death – and whether that’s a good idea. I love this duology so much it makes me wish I could draw so I could make fan art.

I’m a late visitor to Emma Newman’s acclaimed space opera, but I finally got to Planetfall this year. Social engineering and mental health are front and centre here in the sort of character-driven space opera I relish, slowly unpacking its secrets to expose guilt, fragility and the dangerous allure of what you want to hear. I shall be spending 2023 catching up on the rest of the series of stand-alones.

Book cover: Planetfall
Book cover: Firebreak - Nicole Kornher-Stace

In a dystopian near-future US controlled by 2 megacorps, Mal tops up her meagre earnings by streaming. Rare footage of a celebrity propels her up the rankings – and introduces her to a conspiracy that makes her to question her assumptions about her society. Firebreak is a pacy but personal SF thriller that I gobbled up – I’m looking forward to spin-off Flight and Anchor this year.

I don’t usually pick up horror, but set it on a Scottish island cut off by bad weather and watch me dive in with glee. CA Fletcher’s Dead Water is a surprisingly intimate folk horror, focused on community, redemption and rising above trauma. It hit all the right beats to keep me turning the pages (even when it became knowingly absurd) and made the most innocuous things the most terrifying. Well played.

Book cover: Dead Water - C A Fletcher
Book cover: Shards of Earth - Adrian Tchaikovsky

I feel that we didn’t win the war, we just managed to make the aliens aware that we existed so they stopped killing us is a very Adrian Tchaikovsky conceit, and instantly won me over to this big canvas space opera of inscrutable alien cultures, bickering human factions, terrifying space travel and Lovecraftian nightmares. A top notch start to a new series, Shards of Earth convinced me I can enjoy Tchaikovsky aliens.

I hesitate to call a trilogy this socially aware and politically involved cosy, but it has so much heart I found it incredibly comforting. The Kingston Cycle interweaves climate change, conspiracy and romance in an early modern fantasy setting of bicycles and gas lamps (wait, that’s not gas). Come for the tender moments, stay to witness plucky protagonists build a better world.

Book cover: Witchmark - CL Polk

What books have you enjoyed most this year?