Year in review: Five favourite books of 2017

It’s true: I do occasionally read actual books, not just comic books! Over the past year or so, I seem to have divided my comic book reading and my book reading in a “home/away” fashion: When I’m at home, I read comics. When I’m commuting, on the go, or on vacation, I read books. That reading mostly takes place on my Kindle so I guess that makes sense—the Kindle is so easy to travel with.

None of that is particularly relevant to this post though! These are books I read in 2017 that I really liked. Check ’em out, maybe you’ll like ’em too.

Ground rules: These are simply books that I read in the calendar year. Most… um, actually all of them, came out much earlier. But I read them in 2017, and liked them, and this is the list.

Without further ado, here are my five favourite books of 2017, in no particular order:

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

I read all of Justin Cronin’s Passage Trilogy last year. The first book is by far the best of the three; it’s a fantastic post-apocalyptic story that starts off in the world before it ends, starts to show you how and why it ends… then a third of the way through, thrusts you forward into the new world and the new reality, and it remains engaging on both sides. It ends on enough of a cliffhanger that it makes you want to read more, and that’s almost a shame, because the second book, The Twelve, is pretty terrible in comparison. The third, The City of Mirrors, is much better and has a satisfying enough conclusion, but never reclaims the heights of The Passage.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

I bought this book when it first came out, in hardcover, but couldn’t get into it. I can’t remember why, now, all these years later, but sometimes it happens… I decided I should probably give it another shot before the TV show premiered, but then discovered that at some point I sold off my copy. Thankfully shortly after that the Kindle version went on sale. I’m glad I gave it another try, because it is a truly fantastic read, a wonderful examination of the myths and legends that people carry with them and the way a “melting pot” civilization might also create a melting pot of legends.

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

Yes, I finally, finally read Wicked, more than 20 years after it was published. I don’t know why it took me so long! I loved it, it was great, a super-fun exploration of the “world beyond the world” as seen in The Wizard of Oz. It gives an unheralded, but truly famous, villain a proper backstory and just about makes her a sympathetic character, but keeps enough darkness around the edges that you don’t forget she is, indeed, a villain.

The Way Station, by Clifford Simak

A 1963 sci-fi classic, The Way Station has a similar feeing to classic sci-fi like Childhood’s End, or more recent fare like Arrival; we’ve become kind of conditioned to “big” sci-fi with giant spaceships and civilizations and explosions and so on, and it’s really nice to read more down-to-earth, human stories once in a while. And although the book unfolds at an unhurried pace, it makes you want to keep turning the pages to learn more about its protagonist, Enoch, and his “ghosts” and alien companion, Ulysses, especially after a slip-up starts to draw unwanted attention to his home—and to learn whether or not the rest of humanity is ready to join Enoch in the knowledge of life beyond Earth.

Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey

Wow, was this a great read. A thrilling sci-fi adventure set in a fully-relatable, not-too-distant world where Earth has begun to populate the rest of the solar system, a group of (essentially) long-haul truckers undercover a conspiracy that threatens to set off an interplanetary war. It’s classic “unlikely heroes, wrong place at the wrong time” stuff with just enough hard sci-fi make it feel real but not so much that the narrative gets dragged down by it. This book has multiple sequels that I have not brought myself to read, fearing a similar situation to the one described in The Passage entry above.

Honourable mentions: The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

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