Monday, December 28, 2015

My Top Ten Books/Reads of 2015

2015 was another great year for reading. Here is how my list works. I base the list on anything and everything I read in the year. If it is a new release or from 1936 it doesn't matter. I didn't plan it this way but all top ten were from 2015 or 14 this time. Might be the first time that has happened to me as I read a lot of old school sci-fi and horror. All ten books are masterpieces and a lot of really good novels didn't make the top ten.

10-Love is the Law by Nick Mamatas

It paints a more edgy hardcore mystery than books with double it's word count and sales. This book however deserves the hype. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? please. Dawn is character that doesn't just look out of place in society, she is out of place in the Long Island basement punk rock shows too. A follower of both Trotsky and Crowley, who finds her mentor in communism and magik murdered. Short but intense read.

9-The Fold by Peter Clines

The whole novel hinges on a "Oh shit" moment that is 200 or so pages into the novel. Clines manages to create enough interesting characters and seed enough mystery that it carried me through. I suppose he will lose some readers before getting to that big Oh shit moment. I personally feel the pay-off makes the ride worth it all. If you are new to Clines I would start with his novel 14 or his classic zombie super hero crossover Ex-heroes.

8-The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones

The concept is weird, and is often the case with bizarro literature you just have to ride with it. It gets weirder as it goes but SGJ pays off the reader quite nicely. His prose here is lean and deliberate, if you pay attention to things like story construction and wordsmithing then you can’t go wrong. It is a well done piece of work on several levels. I mean it's about an agoraphobic serial killer, seriously.

7-A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

It is a book that will be debated by those who read it for years to come. The writing is deceptively good. I read this in part because months ago many people were declaring it the horror novel of the year. I liked it a lot but think some of the hyperbole surrounding it hurt the book with me. Not Tremblay's fault he hit all the right notes. Long after I closed the book, I was still thinking about it,and my opinion changed. It was better than I first thought. For reasons that are a total spoiler.

6-The Border by Robert R. McCammon

The Border reads and feels like a McCammon novel from the 80's. That my friends is a super wonderful thing. In tone and story this book feels like a perfect blend of two of his classics Swan Song and Stinger. It is absolutely a horror novel set against the end of the world. Stinger was unique in the RRM Catalog because it was the most science fiction of all his works. Until the The Border that is.

The Border is a Science Fiction end of the world horror novel that will appeal to fans of McCammon and kinda feels like putting on a great classic album or movie.

5-Postive by David Wellington

This is a tale of survival and a coming of age for a young man whose arc finds him accepting responsibility he never dreamed of. Not a zombie novel more of a survivor novel. Taking place 20 year after the zombie apoclayse, this road novel has a simple concept but was very effectively told.

4-The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

I read three excellent novels by Pinborough, all three were masterpieces in their own right. The Death House was next level good. It is true that a novel called The Death House is in fact a beautiful story. Some of the most beautiful stories are told in the darkest of settings and that is the case here. It is the Yin and Yang of darkness and beauty that makes this story special. With Blurbs from Stephen King and Neil Gaiman don't take my word for it.

3-Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson

This book is like nothing else you have ever read but everyone loves a comparison right? JRJ wears his influences on his sleeve, but not to crutch level. If you forced me I would say it felt like a way weirder take on Carpenter’s They Live if William Burroughs and Clive Barker worked on the script and Cronenberg directed. It is the only one of the books on this year's list I plan to re-read soon. Intelligent bizarro that ends the world and threatens reality.

2-The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Mitchell himself has called this a collection of novellas but he is being unfair to his own book, it is a novel it simply has a unconventional structure. That will lose many readers as it feels like the story that takes a few hundred pages to come together. The reality is the story is all laid out at the beginning but the Mystery and weirdness is such that you miss it. You'll find yourself looking back and realizing it was there all along.

The Bone Clocks is part horror, part speculative fiction and fantasy. One could even argue that it is a bit of a vampire novel, to the point Mitchell has a character say "Don't say the V word" at one point. In the end genre is a distinction Mitchell clearly gives zero fucks about. Yes this is fantastic writing and it elevates itself over most genre fiction but honestly that is all it is a VERY GREAT sci-fi/fantasy/ horror novel. I think you should read.

Number one is...

The Silence by Tim Lebbon

This novel is in the tradition of British dystopias ranging from Day of the Triffids to 28 Days Later. The Silence is a high concept monster novel that creates terror in the reader by milking every drop of the idea. There is a moment 2/3 of the way through the narrative that was the most brutal scene I have experienced since the ending of the Mist. I knew this scene was coming, it was obvious and Lebbon gave the reader plenty of warnings. Despite all the warnings reading it still hit me like a gut punch. Lebbon never misses beat, using the concept to ramp up the horror.

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