Even though 2016 was a bad year for the overall world, it wasn’t terrible one for me personally. Of course, I got rejected a bunch on job sollicitations and it was a complete no-go in the love department, but I read A LOT of good books. And this is the year I got to leave Belgium (which was a truly horrid five months of my life – don’t laugh, it felt like eternity), and moved into my cute studio in Den Bosch surrounded by all of my books again. The year I started this blog, the year I got into Instagram and especially the bookstagram community.
And what would the last weeks of the year be without an overview list? So here are the best books I read in 2016. They had to be new, and as I look through all my orders, it’s a large percentage of my overall books-read, so all things considered, 2016 wasn’t such a bad year.
2017, of course, is wished to be even better, greater and more wonderful than the year before. And may there be even better books! I think there will be, considering both Sarah J Maas’ series will have their final book released, Scott Lynch will finally (probably) release Thorn of Emberlain, and here’s hoping Sanderson drops the third Way of Kings book in the fall.
But we are still in 2016, so here is the overview of the best books I read during the year.
I read Illuminae early in the year, Gemina directly when it released. I am sideway-science fiction fan, as I like to call it. I am mainly fantasy, but I enjoy quite a bit of science fiction too. Ready Player One, for instance, and another series that I’m putting up in this list, Earth Girl. When I saw the back cover for Illuminae, I knew I had to have it. It sounded extremely interesting and just plain cool.
Upon receiving the book, I realised that it was comprised wholly of dossiers, IM messages, chats, emails, memo’s, etc. It made me a bit apprehensive, because I usually find that difficult to read, and it makes me unable to suspend my disbelief for the entirety of the book. But when I started Illuminae, I simply couldn’t stop. There is such a great balance of story, action and experimentation that I soared through this book and declared it was going to be one of my favourite reads this year. And it truly is.
When Gemina released, I had the pre-order all set up, and when it arrived I immediately started reading it. Although it is in a different setting with different characters, it flows so well from the first book. It is completely its own, without losing that Illuminae magic. And I cannot tell you which love story I love best. Nor which action sequence I love best. Nor which overall book I love best. Illuminae and Gemina are best buds, as far as two books in a series go. There is no let down, and I am so psyched for the third book, that is rumoured to take place on Kerenza VI. I’m guessing green cover, by the way.
A Court of Mist and Fury | Sarah J Maas
You have to be a truly gifted author to make your second book in a series better than the first book, and that is exactly what Sarah J Maas did. I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses so much, I am extremely fond of fairytale retellings. It was a book that added a storyline layer on top of that Beauty and the Beast parallel, and that storyline was even more riveting. It added depth to Feyre’s sacrifices and changed the heroine in profound ways that was put to use in A Court of Mist and Fury.
The character progression of Feyre simply astounds me. You just don’t see it that often in a series, Sarah J Maas really took the time to explore her depression. It made me fall in love hard. Add to that the gorgeous descriptions of a beautiful nighttime country, a hidden away gem. And add to THAT a posse of true friends – that is what this book is. Mor is #goals. I loved every single page and I cannot wait to see how the story is going to end with the next book. That cliffhanger left me smarting for days.
Earth Girl, Earth Star, Earth Flight | Janet Edwards
I realise I might surprise a few people with this. It’s not a well known series and not everyone agrees on it. But I knew when reading it that it was going to be one of my best reads for 2016, all the way back at the beginning of the year. Earth Girl surprised me with its characterization, its calm way of unwinding a story before your eyes that is psychological far more than it is active – quite unique for a science fiction series. That trend continues in Earth Star and Earth Flight.
When we reach the final book, you are immersed into a world in which basic human rights are questioned in a far future, that so echo our own problems today. The solutions were elegant and beautiful and the story took me somewhere I didn’t expect it to go. To be honest, nothing happened the way I figured it would at first – when I stopped anticipating and just let it wash over me was kind of a liberating experience. It’s an absolute gem of a series, and went far deeper than I ever thought it would. It made me think, laugh and cry. It is one of my all time favourite series, I think.
Empire of Storms | Sarah J Maas
It’s the penultimate book in Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series and damn, if it isn’t getting better with each book she publishes. This is the first series of hers that I read, and it took me a while to get into it, but I fell in love all the same. I am a huge fan of the way Sarah J Maas does characterization and develops both the individual characters very well, and the interpersonal relationships. If you read the individual reviews for these books – I rave about these every time.
I cried and laughed and hugged this book all the way through. And can I just say – I completely loved the ending. It was so brutal, so awesome, so everything. It was seriously such a great plot twist in the way it’s going to cost the characters so much. I think Sarah J Maas is one of the best authors I know, and both her series are very different from one another, except in how great they are. I don’t think I have to convince anyone to try this series. I read through it almost in a single sitting, I just couldn’t put it down, and it’s going to be so bittersweet when it ends in 2017.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone series | Laini Taylor
Oh boy, did I not see this series coming. FIguratively, of course, because it was ALL OVER Instagram. I saw it so often, I realised I had missed something. So I ordered this series as soon as I could and went into it blind. I never read the synopsis. I can’t tell you how fun it was to not know what the book is going to be about, and discovering everything while reading. When I realised that Karou’s “fantasy drawings” were most likely real considering I was reading a fantasy, I was grinning like a maniac. I read half the first book on the first night I opened it.
When finishing, I mentioned on Instagram I loved it, but that I would have liked more morally grey areas. I was encouraged to keep going, and indeed, it got a whole lot more confusing on the ethics front. It kept building and expanding and broadening. It takes its time with the story, so you truly feel the people that are in these books. I loved Brimstone as if he had raised me instead of Karou. I think Laini Taylor is a very gifted author, who has her own unique writing style and it suits me very well. If you have not read this series, please do. I need more people to talk about this with!
The Raven Cycle | Maggie Stiefvater
I was so truly lacking by never reading this series before! I have seen it multiple times, but it just didn’t seem like a good fit for me. Shows me what I know about myself and my reading style. It’s real world magics, as I’m calling it today, and it focuses on witch-like magic. I seldom read books like that, so I just ordered the first book. Because I felt I had to have tried something by Maggie Stiefvater. Just to say I tried it and know what she writes like. I wasn’t halfway when I ordered the other three books and tore through them.
I fell in love with Blue and each of the Raven Boys. I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater. I fell in love with books on real world, witch-like magic. I can only describe reading these books by telling you I fell into them, and got swallowed and surrounded by this story and these characters. I refused to believe their stories were over when I closed the last book. They were still so vivid, so alive, so still doing-things in my mind. And that, of course, is a great recommendation. I had a book hangover after this one like you wouldn’t believe. And I am really glad I tried it.
Angelfall series | Susan Ee
It’s been quite a long time since I read these, and I read them in a single sitting (because I couldn’t stop, that was literally an entire day spent reading). So I don’t remember them as well as I should, which really makes me think I need to reread them soon. But I can’t not include them in the list, because I really did read it all in a day.
I think there are some unbalanced points that would have worked better if adressed, but overall it is a very imaginative world. The club for angels was just awesome. And when they go to hell, OMG, that entire sequence is so bloody awesome. So yes, I am including it and I am recommending it, I do so all the time in the bookstore because it isn’t so well known in The Netherlands.
Heart of Betrayal by Mary E Pearson
I really liked Kiss of Deception because of it’s unique storytelling by not revealing to us who the assassin and who the prince was. I did think Lia was written flakely, but by the end I realised why that was. So Heart of Betrayal really fulfilled the promise of Kiss of Deception, and made that the better book. I haven’t read the final one yet, but I really like where this series is headed.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I really liked this carnaval-magic theme. I think it could be a bit better developed in the character department, which is why it gets an honorary mention and not a full-fledged listing. But I loved the atmosphere and the mystery, and that it kept me guessing all book long. I had anticipated this book for a long time and it did not disappoint. I do have to say that the way the Dutch publisher reacted to my questions about the book left me with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
I thought this was very well written. It remained on the surface a bit, because it had a lot to say in not much time. But I think the story was very well thought out and I really liked the main characters. It was a gorgeous fairytale, and even though I would like to see it in a truly different setting (contemporary or future), it fitted the story itself. The chemistry between me and this book was definitely there.
A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
This was such a fun read, I had an absolute blast with it. It’s your average Groundhog Day-storyline, but it really didn’t even put a dent in A Week of Mondays. You know where it’s going to end, but you don’t know how the main character is going to react to each day. And her reactions make it worth it. The one where she goes all out Stepford Wife. The one where she cuts off her hair and gets kicked out. I have laughed out loud so much reading this. And there are some really good life lessons in there, too. Just overall an amazing book for some light reading.
These are my best reads for 2016!
Pretty nice, right? Tell me what you think in the comments, and list your own!