Untold, Sarah Rees Brennan
Unspoken was a surprise favorite for me this year. Gothics: meh. Girl detectives: ambivalent. Wuthering Heights: meh. I had read one of the author’s other books and wasn’t that excited about it, but I loved Kami Glass, I loved the pushback against soul mates trope, I loved how their relationship was called out as maybe not healthy, I loved the English country setting, I loved the girl friendships. The only thing I didn’t love was the cliffhanger ending! But even that was done well. The book ended in a resting (if not safe) place, and not in the middle of the action like some books I could mention. Oh yeah, and that cover!
No cover and the blurb would probably be spoilerific, so I’m not even looking for it.
Cold Steel, Kate Elliott
Cold Magic and Cold Fire have Cat, a heroine equally at home with a sword or a sewing needle, non-stop action, steampunk I can get behind because it’s not underpinned by racist Victoriania, POC main characters and a diverse world, lots and lots of secrets and a reluctant romance (possibly the kind I like the best.) Cold Steel is supposed to wrap it all up and I’ll finally find out what’s going on!
The blurb is so spoiler-full if you haven’t read the first two books, I’m not putting it here.
Sequel to Adaptation, Malinda Lo
This book is so super duper sekret its title hasn’t even been released yet. Adaptation was a departure for Malinda Lo from her fairy tale-esque fantasies and sometimes it showed in awkward turns of phrase, but I still devoured the book in one sitting, turning the pages faster and faster to find out what was going to happen next and what would our heroes do? It also ended on a cliffhanger so I am forced to pretend I never read it until the sequel comes out.
Emilie and the Hollow World, Martha Wells
I love everything Martha Wells writes. She consistently hits all the right notes for me: great heroines, fascinating and different fantasy, romance doesn’t overpower the story, and I usually can’t tell where she’s going. Also, she sidesteps (in my opinion) the racist, sexist, default to medieval Europe fantasy tropes that tangle so many others’ feet. And that is a huge, huge plus. Because sometimes I want to turn off those parts of my brain and just freaking enjoy a story without being blindsided by someone else’s ick.
From the author’s website:
While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father. With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange races of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.
Red, Alison Cherry
Hello, lone contemporary book on this list. And actually cheating, since I’ve read it already (but not the new ending!) and I want all of you to read it too! It’s funny, it’s fun, it has blackmail and the dubious pleasure of a beauty pagent and everyone is a red head! (Disclosure: Alison is a friend of mine, I read this manuscript in its infancy and I’m going to talk it up to everyone until my lips crack.)
Battle, Michelle West
WHAT? Amazon says this book will be released on December 31, 2012. I’ve been waiting since 1995 and The Hunter’s Oath to find out what happens next. Need I say more? If you haven’t read Michelle West, then you don’t know that there are like 13 other novels in this universe and related to this story line and well over a million words in them. Daunting? Yes, unless you’re thinking “All those words to read!”
To sum up: if you like fantastical books (even Red gets a pass here since it’s quirky contemporary) with strong heroines (for many qualities of strong) with minimal to no romance, you might like some of these books too. (Adaptation’s sequel will probably be the exception, with not one but two main interests, but not like a love triangle; Battle will probably be at the extreme far end of no romance given past books.) Maybe I’ll do a post about why I don’t like romance in books? That would means I’ll have to think about why.