Friday, December 31, 2010

Ranking My Fiction Reads- 2010

In 2010 I started and finished 20 fiction Novels totaling approximately 11,000 pages. I started a 21st called The Terror by Dan Simmons, which I am currently reading and therefore won't include it on this years list. I divided my rankings into 4 tiers ranging from excellent to alright (thankfully only one book fit into the alright tier). By in large this list is in order of how I would rank the books, however, I often go back and forth on which books within each tier I liked more. Anyways here is how I would rank the fiction I read this year.

Tier 1 (Excellent)
1.Perdido Street Station - Easily the most original and well written book I read this year. The Slake Moths are absolutely terrifying and the introductory ride into New Crobuzon is breathtaking. China Mieville has a way with words like few authors do. He creates incredibly quirky and interesting species and some ridiculously cool ideas (The Weaver was amazing). The first couple parts are slow, but always fascinating and well written. The rest of the book is just awesome.

2.Snow Crash - Though a bit dated, Snow Crash is about as fun as a novel can get. From the opening description of the "Deliverator," to the pure awesomeness that is Y.T. this novel remains fun throughout. There is a rather large info dump in the middle which at times can get a bit tedious, but despite that Neal Stephenson delivers with a novel that is just pure entertainment.

3.The Lies of Locke Lamora- Scott Lynch's first in the Republic of Thieves series is both an original take on fantasy and a fun caper tale. The city of Camorr and the underworld that thrives there really comes alive and for a series novel it has a very satisfactory, self contained ending.

4.The Name of the Rose- A big credit to Eco with this book for as long as the book was and as many names and languages as it had I thought it was actually a fairly quick read. The language is top notch throughout, the descriptions are great, the tension is ever present and the history woven in is virtually unmatched in anything I have read.

5.A Fire Upon The Deep- The scope of this novel is nothing short of grand. Vinge takes many intriguing ideas, creates multiple fascinating alien races and gives us a tale that is epic in scope and fascinating to read. There are several amazing actions sequences that will keep you rivited throughout.

6.A Deepness in the Sky- Deepness does not quite have the epic scope of A Fire Upon the Deep, but it's a fascinating tale of the conflict among two groups of human space travelers centered around their varying desires of how to extract resources from the first known alien race. The idea of mindrot is very cool as is the moral dilemma it ends up causing for our protagonist. The alien race to me was very believable and though I found myself more interested in the human plot I thought the way they blended together worked well.

Tier 2 (Great reads, not quite up to level of Tier 1)
7.A Look to Windward- Banks is one of my favorite current writers, largely because of the brilliant action sequences he write, but with this story he takes a step back from much of the action (though we get a few cool scenes) to tell a tale of revenge. Slower paced than earlier Banks Culture novels, but just as thought provoking.

8.The Scar- The Scar was actually a better paced book than Perdido Street Station and had many of the great features that made Perdido so special (Many quirky species, incredibly cool creations and ideas, great visual depictions and beautifully written passages). Where I think it fell short was the tension never seemed as real and there was no entity to match The Weaver.

9.Old Man's War- Military Scifi to the core. This book flowed really well. It was a quick read, but entertaining throughout. The action scenes were intense and there was a surprising amount of humor from Scalza as well.

10.Red Seas Under Red Skies- The second in Lynch's Republic of Thieves series I did not find this quite as good. I liked the action in Camorr better than the action in this book. Still the heist scenes are very cool and the action on the high seas can be fun as well. Really anxious to see where he goes moving forward.

11.To Green Angel Tower Part 1- The first of the two part finally to Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series I thought this was actually slightly better than the conclusion. Williams finally got to a point where all his plots were intriguing and moving at a good pace.

12.To Green Angel Tower Part 2- The conclusion to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and a very satisfactory end at that. I thought some of the travel scenes dragged a bit (as they tend to in fantasy), but I thought the end was very cool. The time Williams took to develop the characters and the world early in the series which often seamed excessive really worked to his benefit in the conclusion.

13.Against a Dark Background- This story is just a series of amazing action sequences which no one write better than Banks. I found Sharrow to be a fun protagonist and much of her back story helped develop the emotional gravity of the book. Still I though the scope really was not big enough for me to be as invested in the book. Definitely a fun read, just not an excellent read.

14.The Hunger Games- Credit Collins for being able to get me emotionally invested in characters I barely knew very early on in her novel. Though often predictable and convenient in it's solutions to problems that seem coming I thought The Hunger Games was paced incredibly well and fun throughout. I also felt that even the predictable and convenient parts of the story worked in the world Collins created. I'm anxious to read the last two novels in the series.

15.Cat's Cradle- Vonnegut always seems to deliver with his funny, dark wit. I really loved the idea of Bokononism and how the narrator (John/Jonah) tied everything that happened throughout the book to the various teachings of Bokononism. I thought it was very telling that the destruction that comes in this book did not come from evil or maliciousness, but from wreckless indifference and wreckless self action. Not as good as the Slaughterhouse Five, but typical Vonnegut in that it was humorous and dark with themes that strike you in a very real way.

Tier 4 (Good reads)
16.Storm Front- This first in Butcher's Dresden series was a very quick read and interesting blend of detective novel and urban fantasy. It was self contained and everything tied together nicely at the end. The novel was nothing special but showed the makings of a potentially fun series.

17.The Dragonbone Chair- The first of Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. I thought the biggest fault with this book is the setup took to long and we were 250 pages in before anything happened. The travel scenes were also hit or miss. To its credit though the White Fox's were really cool and the end was wonderfully written. A good, though flawed book.

18.And Another Thing- Colfer does an admiral job of continuing The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. And Another Thing certainly has a different feel than the other Hitchhikers books, but it was still a fun read. In fact I'd argue it was as good as book 5 and much better than book 4 (which just didn't do it for me). Still it falls well short of the brilliance that defined the original three Hitchhikers novels.

19.The Stone of Farewell- Book 2 of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. This flowed better than book 1, but I thought was the weakest overall of the four. To me not enough happened...there were not enough really cool scenes that we got at the end of the first novel and throughout To Green Angel Tower. That said there was some cool stuff in the Sithi city and the duel on the plains with the Thrithlings was worthwhile. Another good book that is ultimately flawed.

Tier 4 (Eh... book)
20.Good Omens- Really this book was my only disappointment in reading this year. Having loved American Gods I expected much more from this story. I did not find it particularly funny, or the conclusion particularly satisfactory. There are some alright moments, but for a book that is trying to be humorous at the expense of other aspects I just do not think it worked. Really it is the only book I read this year that I would not recommend to others.


buttweiner said...

What's the difference between Tier Four and Tier Four?

Anonymous said...

ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!! I can't figure it out either