After a disappointing beginning, I finally started to find some books that could be – and some of them will be – good enough to be considered favorites of 2018. Yes, many of my five stars were rereads, but that doesn’t matter, I finally don’t feel like I’m failing at reading.
I read 14 books:
- 2 short story collections, of which one was an ARC
- 3 rereads (two novels and a novelette)
- 7 new novels, of which 3 were ARCs, one of them DNFed
- I reread one of these 3 ARCs immediately after finishing it
- 1 novella (an ARC)
Lost Gods by Micah Yongo – ★½, DNF 30%
I wanted to like this African fantasy about assassins, but the writing was terrible (one infodump after another, awkward dialogues, too many PoVs) and the book introduced a deaf character just to kill him off immediately for the main character’s development, because fridging is fun.
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp – ★★½
This is a novel about the horrors of inspiration porn, and while the message was really interesting, the characters and the plot weren’t. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book this monotonous and with so little characterization.
Edit [04/25/2018]: Before I Let Go stayed with me a lot more than I thought I would, in a way that I didn’t realized until weeks later. I still agree with everything I said in my review, but maybe the actual rating is closer to a three than a two.
Could Have Been Better
Not So Stories (edited by) David Thomas Moore – ★★★¼
This anthology is a response to Kipling’s Just So Stories, written by authors of color around the world. I found some stories I loved (How the Tree of Wishes Gained its Carapace of Plastic by Jeannette Ng made tear up, and How the Spider Got Her Legs by Cassandra Khaw was darkly beautiful), but there were also many forgettable/just-not-good ones.
People Like Us by Dana Mele – ★★★½
Predictable, but also very addicting and gay, this is a mystery novel set in a boarding school. I didn’t like how this book dealt with bullying, and there was also a lot of wasted potential and weak characterization, but I loved how messed up everything was and I couldn’t stop reading.
Three Sides of a Heart by Natalie C. Parker – ★★★½
Three-and-a-half stars is actually a very good rating for an anthology; this is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read, so I almost feel bad for this “could have been better” title, but… it could have been better. There were three stories I loved (Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton, one of my new favorite short stories, Vega by Brenna Yovanoff and Unus, Duo, Tres by Bethany Hagen) but I also rated three stories one star. Overall, this was an interesting, subversive collection, and I recommend it.
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton – ★★★½
I requested an ARC of this retelling of King Lear just because I loved Tessa Gratton’s story in Three Sides of a Heart, and while I loved Before She Was Bloody a lot more than this, I still found what I wanted – beautiful writing, the best worldbuilding (why are all the descriptions so pretty), and well-developed morally gray characters. Sadly, it also had the worst aromantic and asexual representation I’ve read in a while and it’s probably the slowest book I’ve read this year (a tie between this and Too Like the Lightning, maybe). The ending was worth it, though.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – ★★★★½
I started this book thinking it was going to be boring because nearly everyone said so… and it was not. At all. (If you want boring adult SFF, I have written two recommendations in the section before.) Yes, it had some pacing problems, but I loved all the characters and the political situation was a mess and I was totally there for it. Also, this is owvoices muslim historical fantasy set in Egypt and it has the best atmosphere, if you like pretty descriptions and political intrigue you have to read this.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – ★★★★½
I don’t reach for poetry often, but this was so good and I want more. It follows a Dominican-American girl who is struggling with her religious family, and it felt so real – I felt as if Xiomara were a real teenage girl. I flew through it, and it deserves all the hype it got and more.
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard – ★★★★¾
A Sherlock Holmes retelling set in space in which Holmes is a woman and Watson is a sentient spaceship and a Tea Master. This had the best premise, and the execution was just as good. I loved the friendship between Long Chau and The Shadow’s Child as much as I loved the characters themselves, and now I want more from this universe.
Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee – ★★★★★ (reread)
I just discovered this was nominated for the Hugo Award (Best Novelette), and I’m so happy, it’s probably my favorite novelette ever (and the story that convinced me I needed to read Ninefox Gambit). It follows Jedao on an undercover mission a decade before he became a mass murderer. Some parts of it made me laugh and it’s the fourth or fifth time I read this.
Reread for Revenant Gun. I love this universe more with every read, because all-queer murder space opera is the best genre. I don’t know what I love the most about this – the math-based magic system? The unusual humor? The backstabbing and surprising loyalty? Jedao? The weird space battles? The aromantic representation? Mikodez and his green onion? Cheris and the servitors? Kujen being dramatic again? I don’t know.
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee – ★★★★★ (read twice this month)
I loved this. There were a lot of Kujen scenes and the more I think about them the more they creep me out (why is he so horrible and disgusting and at the same time I like him a lot?), and the ending was everything I didn’t know I wanted. Hemiola’s PoV was really interesting (who doesn’t want a friendly AI who loves plot-relevant fan edits). Also, Brezan’s storyline! Mikodez being wiser than usual! I’d read more of this, of course, but as an ending this was perfect.
What were your favorite books in March? Have you read any of these?