I could have probably read more of the '09 releases before now, but I'm still on a campaign to read the classic and iconic pieces of dark fiction, plus vary it up with entertaining nonfiction, and tear through my existing and gargantuan to-be-read pile. 2009 did mark the first year I read more than 100 books, so that's a bit of a milestone for me.
So, 2009 is in the dust. Everyone and their dog has let it be known what their fave five or top ten or nifty nineteen novels of '09 were. I think it's about time I did the same, so here's my five favorite reads that were released in the past year.
#5: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells - I don't know if I'll be jumping on the urban fantasy, vampire fiction bandwagon, like so many readers have been doing over the last few years. I will say though, Jaye Wells debut novel entertained me thoroughly. Her heroine, Sabina Kane, and the eclectic cast of supporting characters reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in all the right ways.
#4: Afraid by Jack Kilborn - The alter ego of J.A. Konrath knows how to write a balls-to-the-wall scary story. The title of the novel is somewhat generic, but the story contained within is electric. I'm not usually one who gravitates towards the body count tales, where the bad guy(s) pile up the bodies by the boatload, but there's such an intriguing back story and mystery to compliment the carnage, I couldn't help by like this book.
#3: The Strain by Chuck Hogan & Guillermo Del Toro - I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about this novel when I heard the hype for it. So much focus was placed on the name "Del Toro," I worried the novel was more sizzle than steak. It didn't take long once I immersed myself in the story to realize Hogan and Del Toro really had something with this re-imagining of vampire lore. I was a bit miffed at the cliffhanger style ending, but there was enough of a resolution at the end of the novel to satisfy me, plus make me look forward to the sequel.
#2: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - It's easily the best piece of zombie fiction I've read thus far--I still need to read Brian Keene's The Rising, though. You might call it a cross between The Village and Dawn of the Dead, but Carrie Ryan's debut novel finds its own territory in the pantheon of both zombie lore and YA. The world is so vivid, and the characters so indelible in their own way, it's hard not to love this book. And even harder not to chomp at the big for the sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves.
#1: Ouroboros by Michael Kelly & Carol Weekes - Amazing piece of fiction, right here. Norm Rubenstein was onto something when he sang this books praises from the rooftops. Again, as I said in my review of this title, I'm possibly biased because I'm a Maritimer and the story takes place in the Maritimes. But, even if it was set in Maine or British Columbia--heck, let's make it Portugal--the story resonates on quite a few levels. I was particularly appreciative of the elderly being used as the main characters, which is so refreshing from all the teen angst that permeates through popular fiction. The themes of death, rebirth, grief, and friendship play out so wonderfully, I can't imagine this book will go unrecognized for some kind of award or accolade in 2010.
There they are, my five favorite reads thus far for 2009. I still have a couple of '09 releases sitting on my TBR pile, but I honestly doubt they'll knock off the top picks listed here. I could be wrong. Also, there are a few books that have caught my eye through the year that I have yet to read, some can be found on my Wish List Wednesday posts. As I continue to read last year's offerings into the next year and beyond, this list may change, but for now I'm comfortable listing these five as my favorites of the year.
How does your list stack up? Do any of the titles I have listed above make it onto your list? Got a book in mind that you think I really need to read, so I'll be forced to place it in my fave five?