2016 has been another excellent year for books. Here, in no particular order, are my favourite novels that were published during 2016 – clicking on the title will take you to my review.
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Darrow is one of the Reds whose job it is to make Mars habitable for humans. The mining they undertake is dangerous work and life expectancy is shockingly low, but the Reds deem it a worthy sacrifice – it’s for the good of the human race, after all.
But then Darrow discovers that it’s all a lie – Mars has been habitable, and inhabited, for years. The Reds are just slave labour, mining elements for an elite caste of humans – the Golds. And so Darrow, with the help of a shadowy organisation called the Sons of Ares, infiltrates the Golds in order to take them down from the inside.
Morning Star is a fitting conclusion to an outstanding trilogy.
The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola
Inspired by real events, The Unseeing tells the story of Sarah Gale who has been sentenced to death for the murder of Hannah Brown.
Pleading her innocence, her case is assigned to Edward Fleetwood, who has a limited amount of time to investigate. Yet Sarah is reluctant to speak, despite her sentence, and so it falls to Edward to discover the truth behind Hannah’s murder.
The Unseeing is Mazzola’s debut novel, and is perfect for fans of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites or Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace.
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Sleeping Giants starts with the discovery of a giant metal hand – thousands of years old, yet technologically superior to anything that we could manufacture today, and follows the investigation into what it is and where it came from.
Epistolary in format, Sleeping Giants is told through a series of interview transcripts conducted by a somewhat sinister nameless interviewer, allowing the reader the follow the investigation as well as seeing the implications that the discovery has.
Part sci-fi, part thriller, this is an outstanding novel and I can’t wait for book two – Waking Gods – which will be published in April 2017.
Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker
Anatomy of a Soldier is the highly inventive début novel from Harry Parker, and focuses on Tom Barnes, a soldier fighting in an unspecified war who is injured by an IED.
Told out of sequence, and from the perspective of a series of inanimate objects, the reader is gradually able to piece together the events that led to Tom’s injury and his recovery.
I think it will be a long time before I stop raving about this novel – I can’t recommend it enough.
The Fireman by Joe Hill
A new virus is sweeping the globe – a virus that ultimately results in the spontaneous combustion of the host.
When Harper Grayson discovers the tell-tale markings on her skin, she is forced to run away from her husband, and falls in with a camp of fellow sufferers, including the Fireman of the title. There, she begins to learn more about the virus.
I really enjoyed that this novel was told from the perspective of the sufferers, rather than the healthy few who are seeking a cure / to exterminate those who have contracted the virus in the way of so many other end of the world novels.
The Fireman is a thoroughly brilliant novel, and I loved every page of it (which is good, because it’s huge!), this is a wonderfully complex novel that will appeal to fans of The Passage.
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
In A Gathering of Shadows, we return to Schwab’s brilliantly imagined four parallel Londons, and pick up the story of Lila, Kell and Rhy some four months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic.
Predominantly set in Red London, A Gathering of Shadows focuses on the build up to the Essen Tasch – the elemental games – something akin to the Olympics for magicians.
I love everything about this series – the world building, the characters, the magic, the writing – and I can’t wait to read the final instalment – A Conjuring of Shadows – which will be published in 2017.
The North Water by Ian McGuire
It is 1859, and the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaling ship, is about to set sail for the hunting grounds of the Arctic sea. Patrick Sumner is an ex-army surgeon who has joined the crew as the medic for the voyage. Also aboard is harpooner Henry Drax – a drunk and savage brute of a man.
As the journey gets underway, it becomes clear that the purpose of the voyage is not quite the straightforward whaling mission that it has been made out to be, and what ensues is a thrilling tale of intrigue and action in the harshest of conditions.
Longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, this is a bleak and unsettling novel and I absolutely loved it.
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Mia Corvere is sixteen years old, and, after six years of training, she is to be admitted to the Red Church – a secretive organisation of assassins. Whilst adept at many of the skills this requires, she has additional motivation, as she seeks to avenge herself on those who hanged her father as a traitor, who threw her mother into a prison and who sentenced the ten-year-old Mia to a death that she narrowly managed to avoid.
But training at Red Church will not be a straightforward affair – only four of the inductees will become ‘blades’, competition is fierce and there’s no guarantee that she’ll survive the training process.
With a richly imagined world and an innovative magic system, Nevernight is a great start to a new trilogy.
The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence
At 32, Gabriel Vaughn seems to have it all, and has very little time for those who haven’t achieved as much as he has.
But then he is diagnosed as having a brain tumour. Situated deep in his brain, it’s inoperable. And he begins to notice a change in himself. Whereas before he could remain aloof, detached and uncaring of the general masses, he is now beginning to feel all sorts of new emotions, and begins to see that his lifestyle isn’t as rich as he once thought.
The Empathy Problem is a beautiful and heart-warming novel, and firmly establishes Extence as one of my favourite authors.
The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone
The Hatching is an end of the world novel in which an ancient species of spider, one that has long lain dormant, is now causing havoc. Told from a variety of perspectives, the reader is able to see how the spiders spread and the ensuing chaos, as well as the investigation into how to stop them.
This is a compelling read and highly entertaining, and I’m really looking forward to the sequel, Skitter, which will be published in 2017.