Best Books 2016 Recommendations
A new year is a time for a new resolve, and why not spend more time reading books in 2017? For those who love reading books it’s a great passtime that you can do just about everywhere. At home, in bed, while waiting on a bus, during a long flight, etc., there’s always an opportunity to read. Some prefer phyisical books for their tactile appeal, while others prefer ebooks that give you easy access to thousands of books in the palm of your hand. Our preference goes to the Kobo Aura but also the Kindle Paperwhite is a very capable ereader.
What matters most of all are, of course, the books. We’ve read some great works this year, and we struggled our way through others. What follows is the list of books we have read in 2016 and which we believe are worthy of your time. The selection is heavy on fantasy and sci-fi, but do give them a try regardless of your typical genre preference. You might be suprised by the quality of these wondrous books!
The Witcher series, by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, has gained a lot of popularity through the excellent The Witcher game series, culminating in The Witcher 3 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. The excellent storytelling in the games is in part due to the excellent source material, consisting of a large collection of short stories along with a saga focussing on the witcher Gerald of Rivia and the witcher-in-training Ciri. While the original stories date all the way back to 1986, only in the last 20 years have the books been translated into English. These English translations are highly faithful to the source material and are real page-turners. The Witcher universe is beautiful, expansive, filled with detail, and does not avoid addressing even murkier subjects such as (corrupt) politics, racism, and standards of beauty.
I don’t think that The Martian, written by Andy Weir, needs a lot of introduction. The movie of the book got a lot of praise and stayed relatively true to the story. But not in every way. The best way to describe it is that Mark Watney is more whitey in the book, and definitely less SFW (safe for work). It’s a wonderful read, and it is a great tale of survival rooted in realistic science fiction, with a nice side of adventure. We all know that Mark eventually does make it off Mars, but his knowledge, his survival skills, his endurance, and his faults, are what make the journey worth it. Finally, while the premise of the book may sound geeky, don’t be thrown off. This is a great read for everyone, whether you are into science fiction or prefer a good adventure story.
You will likely struggle to get through the first couple of chapters of Ancillary Justice. Which is perfectly fine, as the book delivers an interesting interpretation of a novel idea. Once the pieces start falling into place, the beauty of the storytelling really starts to shine and you feel the unique struggles of the protagonist. With such a unique protagonist, it’s equally befitting that the plot resolves around an issue only the protagonist could fully grasp, and it is wonderful that the author is capable of taking us along for the ride. No spoilers though, so if the premise got you intrigued you really should go out and buy the book digitally or on paper.
The Fablehaven fantasy series consists of 5 books, written by Brandon Mull with a child audience in mind. Nevertheless, these books will entice you even as an adult. The books are easy to read, with a storyline that will draw you in right away. The premise is easy enough. The boring visit to the grandparents, the mysterious world that is hidden in and around their house, and the inevitable realisation that there is more to the people around them than what they originally thought. Soon you’ll be dragged into a rich fantasy world hidden away from unbelieving adults, while the young protagonists embrace the world with open arms. It’s just this perfect mix of intelligent seriousness and pure childhood impatience. If you like wonders and perils, cooperation, fallbacks, enthusiasm, mutual trust, surprises, and humour, then this is the series for you.
Fablehaven – Fablehaven – book
Fablehaven – Rise of the Evening Star – book
Fablehaven – Grip of the Shadow Plague – book
Fablehaven – Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary – book
Fablehaven – Keys to the Demon Prison – book
Look who’s back
Ever wondered how historical figures would manage in a modern world? Then Look who’s back, originally a German satirical novel written by Timur Vermes, will be your cup of tea. It features an alternative reality where Adolf Hitler doesn’t die, but mysteriously wakes up 2011, unaware of the changes the world has been through since 1945. As you can imagine, this makes the perfect setting for chaos, confusion, miscommunication and of course, lots of humour. The book sets the tone right from the start, throwing you in when Hitler wakes up, with little introduction of the character or the current timeframe. This causes the perfect feeling of confusion as a reader to truly understand the feeling experienced by the main character while you steadily start to learn more about the setting and main characters. Hitler does succeed in reigning in the media, just like he did before, but the reaction of the world to him and his antics most definitely has changed … .
Penryn and the End of Days
Combining a forbidden romance with a religious inspired post-apocalyptic fantasy theme can be risky, but Susan Ee pulled it off brilliantly in the Penryn and the End of Days trilogy. The determined and daring Penryn sets off on a risky rescue operation of her disabled sister, abducted by warrior angels. She grabs her chance to make the impossible possible by cutting a deal with the wounded angel Raffe. A close bond is quickly formed, but the fragile and tumultuous relationship is put to the test when their two worlds collide and are deemed irreconcilable. Full of unexpected plots and twists, this series makes for a fascinating page-turner.
Penryn and the End of Days – Complete Set – ebook
The Underworld Chronicles
Similar to the Fablehaven series, The Underland Chronicles is a series of five child fantasy books written by Suzanne Collins. You might recognise the name from the Hunger Games trilogy, and it is how we stumbled upon this beauty of a series. While not as famous as the Hunger Games, the series deserves an equal amount of credit. The main character, a boy named Gregor, lives in New York City but spend most if his time in a subterranean word called “Underland”. As you might expect from a subterranean world, it is ruled by those animals we rather avoid, such as bats and cockroaches. It provides the perfect setting for surprising adventures through which you might discover some hidden empathy for these little creatures.
The Underworld Chronicles – Complete set – book