2012 Books: Year in Review – Part 1

By Bahia Simons-Lane
©2012 Bahia Portfolio

This year I managed to come very close to my goal of reading 50 books, hitting a whopping 49 books!  I’ve listed these books in roughly chronological order of reading, but grouped by category.  Some books fit more than one category or were part of a series and depending on how much I wanted to say about those books I put them in with a broad category or just by series.

Buffy/Angel Graphic Novels

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight V...

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6), Espenson, Jane 3/5
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Twilight (Season 8, #7) , Meltzer, Brad 2/5
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Last Gleaming (Season 8, #8) , Whedon, Joss 2/5
4. Angel: The End, Willingham, Bill 4/5

If you are a Buffy fan you may be aware that the shows Buffy and Angel continued in graphic novel form after the end of the TV series.  As a big fan, I was curious to find out what happens in the story so as soon as Season 8 finished I picked them up.  Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Season 8 of Buffy.  There was some good art and some curious things that happened, but (believe it or not) I think it got too fantastical.  Perhaps because it no longer had the limitations of a TV budget, the graphic novel stories could be more incredible, like the superhero comic books that inspired creator Joss Wheadon.  However, I felt that one of the core reasons Buffy (and Angel) resonated so much with their audience was because it was grounded in reality.  They showed us the real world, and then the dark side of that world, but the real world wasn’t completely over-shadowed.  In Buffy, Season 8 I felt that the real world kind of disappeared.

Additionally, some of the choices and big reveals made no sense to me based on the characters I know and love and I found it a bit jarring.  Still, I’m glad I know about what happens next, and after reading issue 1 of Seaons 9 I am optimistic that the series will be going back to being more grounded in reality.

Abhorsen Trilogy

Sabriel

5. Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1) , Nix, Garth 4/5
6. Lirael (Abhorsen, #2) , Nix, Garth 4/5
7. Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3) , Nix, Garth 4/5

I don’t read much YA, and I initially gave these 3 out of 5.  After reading some more YA this year I realized that I was comparing these to the non-YA fantasy that I normally read and went back to give it 4 out of 5.  This series has great world building and good characterization, and it’s exciting the whole way through – classic adventure stuff.  I found some of the themes and writing a bit simplistic, but good YA usually does that.

Distopian Novels

Lord of the Flies

8. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) , Collins, Suzanne 3/5
9. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) , Collins, Suzanne 4/5
10. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3), Collins, Suzanne 3/5
11. Lord of the Flies, Golding, William 4/5
12. Battle Royale, Takami, Koushun 5/5

I saw the Hunger Games before I read the book.  I’m always trying to make up my mind about which I prefer – to read the book first or see the movie first.  When I see the movie first that means the characters I picture will usually be the characters as played by actors in the movie, but since the book is often better than the movie when you read the book first you may end up disappointed.  In this case, after seeing the movie I read the whole trilogy.  Overall I really enjoyed this series.  Because of the use of 1st person in the novel I felt that some things were better shown and explained in the movie, like the scope and impact of the distopian society.  However, other things, like what exactly was going on with Katniss and Peeta were lost.

After I finished the series, I wanted to go back and read a few of my favorite distopian novels with similar themes.  The classic Lord of the Flies was an obvious choice, followed by one of my favorite novels of all times, Battle Royale.  When I first heard about the Hunger Games I immediately thought of Battle Royale, because on the surface the premise is very similar: children in a distopian society are forced to fight in order for the society to maintain control over its people.  However, these books are actually very different.  Much of the Hunger Games takes place outside of the arena and the concept of pagentry is a focal point, while Battle Royale takes place almost entirely in the “arena” of the fight.  Battle Royale is particularly compelling because you get to see into the heads of all of the characters taking part in the fight and it gives you psychological glimpses into why each student reacts to the situation the way they do.  The Hunger Games has a much narrower perspective due to the first person perspective – we only know what Katniss knows.

The Lord of the Flies, on the other hand, is more different.  The kids are so young and the premise is different – no one is forcing them to fight each other, that’s just the outcome of their situation.  Like Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies makes some commentary about the society in which it was written.  All these books are pretty depressing, but I think they are all well worth reading.

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones

13. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1), Martin, George R.R. 4/5
14. A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) , Martin, George R.R. 4/5
15. A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) , Martin, George R.R. 5/5
16. A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) , Martin, George R.R. 3/5
17. A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) , Martin, George R.R. 4/5

I blogged about this series this year.  Check out my post on the series by clicking here.

Pern

First paperback edition cover

18. Dragonquest (Pern, #2) , McCaffrey, Anne 4/5
19. The White Dragon (Pern, #5) , McCaffrey, Anne 4/5

After Ann McCaffrey’s death I decided to start the Pern series.  When I was first getting into the genre of fantasy when I was in junior high school, her books didn’t appeal to me.  I attempted a few and couldn’t get into the style.  This time, I found they captured my attention.  One thing I really liked about this series was the very consistent world building.  You can tell that these books were written a while ago due to the style, but it’s not unpleasant.  I enjoyed the first few books of this series and will continue it.

If you’re wondering why it goes from 2 to 5, it’s because 5 was written third and I was reading them in the order she wrote them, not the chronology of the series.

Light Reading/Romance

Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark

20. Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1) , Harris, Charlaine 4/5
21. Unspoken (Highland Historical, #1), Byrne, Kerrigan 3/5
22. Unwilling (Highland Historical, #2) , Byrne, Kerrigan 2/5
23. Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) , James, E.L. 3/5
24. Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2) , James, E.L. 3/5
25. Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3) , James, E.L. 3/5
26. Blood and Snow (Blood and Snow, #1), Workman, RaShelle 2/5
27. Revenant in Training (Blood and Snow, #2) , Workman, RaShelle 2/5
28. The Vampire Christopher (Blood and Snow, #3) , Workman, RaShelle 2/5
29. Blood Soaked Promises (Blood and Snow, #4) , Workman, RaShelle 2/5

I lumped these all together because I don’t have all that much to say about these books.  I did enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse (TrueBlood) series and reread the first book because I needed a beach read.  After that, I decided to check out some romance due to recommendations by friends.  Romance is a genre that I very rarely read and even after this foray it still doesn’t appeal that much to me.  Maybe I just haven’t found the right books?

The Highland Historical novels take place (you guessed it) in Scottland.  However this is a Scottland of magic.  The twist of magic made it entertaining, but the second book really didn’t deliver as much as book one.  Not much to say about this, if you like this type of book you may enjoy it.

I wrote about Fifty Shades of Grey here, so go check that out.  In summary, I enjoyed the series more than I expected.

Blood and Snow was awful. I don’t even know why I gave it 2 stars, I guess because it had an interesting premise (I like vampires) and for some reason I kept reading them (they were really short).  Each of these books is really more a novella, and they should really be one long book instead of separate books because of the way the story is structured.  You have interesting characters and an interesting concept, but the writing wasn’t great and the plot arc strange.  I won’t be continuing this series.

Click here to continue on to Part 2!

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Comments
One Response to “2012 Books: Year in Review – Part 1”
  1. Olivia says:

    Such a great list! There are definitely a couple I need to add to my “to-read” list this year!

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