Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: My Top 10 Science Fiction Novels of the Year

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

I feel this has to be a part of Sci-Fi Month every year: my favourite science fiction novels read this year. These are the ten novels that impressed me the most, listed in no particular order because I find it so difficult to order books… I just love them all too much. If you enjoyed any of these, let me know!

Steelheart & Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson Firefight

Both Steelheart and Firefight were extraordinary books. I have really enjoyed everything by Brandon Sanderson that I’ve read so far, but these two are written in a very different style to everything else, and are aimed at younger audiences. However, if you’re not a Young Adult fan, this series still comes really highly recommended – particularly if you like the superhero genre.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury & Tracer by Rob Boffard

Fahrenheit 451 Tracer

Reading Fahrenheit 451 meant making progress with my Definitive Science Fiction Reads challenge, created for Sci-Fi Month 2013. It is a haunting tale; the thought of a world where books are banned absolutely terrifies me, and many others I’m sure. Tracer was a Netgalley find, chosen for my post-The 100 needs. It is so action-packed and fast, and I can remember the opening scene really well as it was so vivid.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North & Armada by Ernest Cline

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Armada

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a more ‘subtle’ science fiction book, in that whilst time travel (of a sort) is the central concept of the book, it actually takes a backseat. How Harry time travels/is reborn is less important than what he does with his many lives. It is definitely the sort of science fiction book that would appeal to those who do not consider themselves big fans of the genre. Armada, on the other hand, is definitely one that will appeal to a certain group of people: video game fans. The story of a teenager who gets caught up in an alien invasion that seems inspired by the online game he plays, it is Ernest Cline’s second novel. I couldn’t wait to read it after Ready Player One, and whilst I did not enjoy it much as his first novel, I still rated it five stars because it was just so fun.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu & The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Time Salvager The Girl With All The Gifts

Time Salvager was one of those books that I had high expectations for, but it still managed to utterly blow me away. As I said in my review, it is the type of science fiction that I have been yearning for for a while. The Girl With All The Gifts is a very different type of book, but equally fantastic. A sort-of-zombie dystopian novel, unlike other books of the same ilk, the reader sees the zombies from a more ‘personal’ viewpoint.

Way Down Dark by James Smythe & Catalyst by S.J. Kincaid

Way Down Dark Catalyst

Way Down Dark was another wonderful Netgalley find, that I partly took a chance on just because of the cool cover. This felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the whole host of science fiction/dystopian Young Adult novels that have recently been released. Unfortunately as it has been labelled as ‘for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, I fear this will put many people off the book who actively avoid those series or those similar. Ignore that! Catalyst is the final book in the Insignia series, and was a really great ending. It follows young teens training for the military, and somehow often feels simultaneously tense and light-hearted.

Have you read any of these, or are you planning to? What are your thoughts?

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Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

January 2015

Last month I read a total of eleven books: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson, Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks by Justin Richards, Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez, The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1.5 by Jonathan Stroud, Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson, Pawn of Prophecy/a> (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings, Asylum by Madeline Roux, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Breathe (Breathe #1) by Sarah Crossan, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie.

I’m so glad I finally got to read The Blade Itself, it was well overdue and I loved it. I also finally read Pawn of Prophecy which was a birthday present from and highly recommended by two friends. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, and the one that follows it! Steelheart pretty much blew everything out of the water though, and The Well of Ascension was a fantastic sequel. BRANDON SANDERSON IS A WRITING GOD.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read nine books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge. I managed to defeat the Joker, mwhaha!
  • I have currently read eleven books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

How was January for you?

Review

Review: Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

You know those sorts of books that you go into, expecting to really enjoy – you know you love the author’s work, the premise sounds amazing – but then they pretty much blow everything out of the water and are somehow even better than expected, defying expectations?

Yep, that was Steelheart.

I haven’t been a Sanderson fan for as long as some – my first read of his was Elantris, at the end of 2013, followed by The Final Empire at the beginning of 2014. From then on I knew this was an author whom I had to read as much of as possible. I love superheroes and superhero stories, so when I heard about Steelheart I knew it was the book for me.

You can’t go into this book expecting Sanderson’s usual style of writing. This is a Young Adult book, and the tone is so different. I really hope that doesn’t put many of his readers off, with the stigma that YA fiction sometimes has, because they will really be missing out. As with the Mistborn series, the action scenes are fantastic, and I had such a vivid image of every part of the book in my head.

I loved the variety of characters. David, with his awful metaphors, was hilarious. But he was also determined and dedicated, having spent the past ten years researching Epics so he could get revenge for the murder of his father. The Prof was a bit of an enigma, and I look forward to finding out more about him. Cody was an odd one, with his Tennessee-accented Scottish slang, occasionally mixed with Irish, and I really felt myself warming to this silly man very quickly. Tia was this awesome, super-smart one-woman force who I totally wanted to be. I’m interested in seeing more of Abraham, because he may seem gentle and quiet albeit armed with a rocket launcher, but I reckon with the right situation he could turn into a total badass and go completely crazy. And Megan… well, she is one dark horse.

I had my suspicions about how events might unfold, what secrets were being kept, and despite the fact that I managed to guess a small part of the end, I was still surprised in so many ways. The last 10-15% of the book was just phenomenal, with a huge face-to-face showdown and so many different twists and turns. I was pretty much sat there with this look on my face the entire time:

ERMEHGERD!!
ERMEHGERD!!

The other day, I received a copy of Firefight in the post from Gollancz, and I am SO HAPPY BECAUSE I COULD NOT WAIT MUCH LONGER TO READ IT AFTER THAT CONCLUSION. Fangirl mode very much activated.

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #13: Heroes

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Heroes

Heroes

After a total eclipse casts its shadow across the globe, seemingly calling forth a multitude of everyday men and women with special powers, Dr. Mohinder Suresh, a genetics professor from India, continues to champion his father’s theory that there are people with extraordinary abilities living among us. Heroes follows those people and their fight to save the world…

Heroes is another one of those shows that I started watching when it was first aired, then missed a couple and never caught up – despite the fact that my family owns all the DVDs and I could watch it on Netflix at any time. I’ve always been quite squeamish and that scene where Claire has to basically put her chest back together was a bit too much for me – although I think shows like Game of Thrones have desensitised me lately! Maybe I should give it another try, and just add it to my ever growing list of shows to watch and/or finish…

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

I’d always heard a lot about Brandon Sanderson, but I didn’t read any of his work until the end of last year. I’ve only read two of his books so far (Elantris and The Final Empire) but I loved them both. Whilst he tends to write fantasy, Steelheart is something quite different – a story of normal people, granted superpowers – and a desire to take over the Earth. The ‘Epics’, as they are known, are almost unstoppable, and only one force dares to stand against them – the ‘Reckoners’, normal people without super powers, who study the Epics in order to assassinate them. Ugh, I just want this book NOW. But it’s only out in large paperback at the moment – I’m waiting for a Kindle sale, or the smaller paperback.

Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Vicious is one of those books that I’d heard absolutely nothing about – until suddenly ALL of my blogger friends starting reading and talking about it. It’s about two young boys, college roommates, who discover that under the right conditions, gaining superpowers is possible. But things go wrong when it comes to the experimental stage, and ten years later the two boys are no longer friends – but enemies. Goodreads claims that Victoria Schwab ‘brings to life a gritty comic book style world in vivid prose’, which sounds totally my kind of thing. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me – but when I look at the thumbnail of this cover, all I can see is Gru from Despicable Me looking down from that balcony!

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Unlike the previous two books, Soon I Will Be Invincible is not one that I’ve seen all over the blogosphere. I found it whilst browsing Goodreads, and thought it looked pretty perfect for this feature. It sounds like a bit of a typical superhero story (an evil villain called ‘Doctor Impossible’ determined to take over the world, a ‘new’ superhero who will go on to prove themselves), but it also sounds pretty fun.

The H.I.V.E series by Mark Walden

The H.I.V.E series by Mark Walden

Because we can’t forget the super villains! I’ve seen the H.I.V.E series around a lot – it’s mostly aimed at middle grade audiences. The series follows a young boy called Otto who is picked from his orphanage to become part of the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, where young children are trained to become super villains. However, Otto soon realises that it is a six year program and he doesn’t want to stay. With the help of his genius friends, he begins formulating a plan to break out. There are currently eight books, with a ninth on the way.

As well as these novels, there are so many different graphic novels and comic books relating to superheroes to check out. I’m currently working my way through various Marvel (mostly X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers) storylines, but other great publishers include DC and Dark Horse.

Are you a fan of Heroes? Do you have any recommendations to add?