Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Top Ten Novels of 2013

I read a lot of books, and novels are always the books that stick with me the most. Below are ten of the stories I enjoyed the most in 2013. I loved all of them, so they're really in no particular order.

S. by Doug Dorst & J.J. Abrams
I love the work of J.J. Abrams, so when I heard about his unique story concept for a book, I knew it was something I want to check out. Doug Dorst crafted an intricate and captivating story by giving us three different storylines running alongside of each other. There's the story of the novel by mysterious author V.M. Straka, the story of Straka himself weaved throughout the inserts and footnotes included in the book, and the story of Eric and Jen in the margins of the book as they try to uncover the secret of Straka. S. is storytelling experience that I can't imagine will ever be duplicated with as much quality as what Abrams and Dorst have created.
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Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Steelheart is a book I came across because it was mentioned on Twitter by one of my favorite authors, James Dashner. I decided to check it out, and I'm glad I did because it is a brilliant story. It's the story of superhuman powers that corrupt the individuals that receive them rather than turn them into heroes. Imagine a world where these people rule because they're almost infinitely more powerful than those of us without powers. The Epics, and the Epic named Steelheart in particular, have altered the world into one of oppression. After watching his father die at the hands of Steelheart when he was a boy, years later David is consumed with exacting revenge on Steelheart. He meets some interesting friends along the way, and not everyone is who they seem.
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Sovereign by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee
Ted Dekker has been my favorite author for years, and his Books of Mortals trilogy came to a close with this final book. There's something trilogies that I enjoy, and this one is told very well. It's a gritty retelling of the redemptive story of the Bible, and it gets to the heart of what it means to believe in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances.
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Hurt by Travis Thrasher
Great young adult novels seem to reach beyond the young adult market, and Thrasher's Solitary Tales is a story that captures the angst of the teen years well, but tells a story so intense that it appeals to adults as well. Thrasher has been one of my favorite authors since I picked up his novel Isolation a few years ago in a Christian bookstore just because it looked interesting. The Solitary Tales tell the story of Chris Buckley who is trying to understand the dark secrets of Solitary after witnessing the girl he loved murdered by a dangerous cult. I loved Hurt because it answers so many questions. It's intense to very end, and you're not sure if the story can possibly end with a happy ending. It's a story I loved to see continued in the future because it ends with such possibility.
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The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen
This is the second book in Jennifer Nielsen's Ascendance Trilogy. I loved the first book and the wreckless character of Jaron who become the king of Carthyra. This book is the story of whether Jaron can possibly grow into the king Carthyra needs. Jaron is a fun character because of the confidence he has, which is sometimes misplaced, and his angst-driven attitude toward life. It was fun to see how he changes throughout the course of this story. I'm currently reading the final book, and I'm excited to see how Jaron's story ends.
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Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
I've never read The Shining, but I've become of a fan of King in recent years, so I wanted to check out Doctor Sleep. I'm glad I did. It's a long novel, but it's a story that is well told and powerfully redemptive. Dan Torrance is an adult, battling alcoholism and the horrors of his past, and he's caught up in a plot to rescue a little girl named Abra, who also has the shining, from a group of near-immortals called The True Knot. It's as much Abra's story as it is Dan's, and I loved how King connected these two characters together. If you decide to read this book, know that it does have quite a bit of profanity throughout.
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The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
James Dashner became one of my favorite authors when I read the prequel to his Maze Runner series a year and a half ago. The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine trilogy, and it is an intense and compelling beginning to the series. It's a book about virtual reality and a villain inside of the virtual reality world who is affecting the real world. Michael and his friends are enlisted to find and stop him before it's too late. The ending to the book was completely unexpected, and I can't wait to read the second book in the series.
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Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
With the release of the movie last year, Warm Bodies was also re-released as a novel. The story sounds ridiculous, but I enjoyed it a lot. R. is a zombie who begins to fall in love with a living girl named Julie after he begins to experience the memories of Julie's boyfriend when he consumes the boyfriend's brain. It's a unique retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story, and it's a really good story. I also read the prequel novella, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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Inferno by Dan Brown
Dan Brown is known as the controversial author of The DaVinci Code, and he tells stories in such a way to get people thinking. Inferno is about Robert Langdon trying to uncover a chain of clues to stop a mad scientist from unleashing a terrible plague on the world. Many of the clues are tied to Dante's famous epic poem, and Langdon is the expert who is on the run with a woman named Sienna. What Langdon uncovers throughout the course of the story is surprising, and Brown's ability to keep the reader guessing makes it a captivating story. I didn't really agree with end-game message of the book, but it was a great story.
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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
This book was highly anticipated. It's the first in a seven book series, and it is truly unique. Paige Mahoney is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant who can enter the minds of others and extract information, among other things. The voyants are a hated race, and forbidden from the world, a world heavily guarded by a group called Scion. Paige and many other voyants are taken hostage and made to live among a group of creatures known as the Rephaim. It's a dangerous world she's discovered, and her life will change completely as she discovers how truly powerful she really is. The story world is unique and the abilities of the voyants are interesting. It was an intriguing beginning to the series, and I look forward to the continuation of it.
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