2011 Year End Look Back: Leslie's Favorite Reads

Over the next week or so, we'll be looking back at some of our favorite books, movies and televisions from 2011 as well as some of the things that we missed because there's just not enough time in the world to consume everything.

In 2011, I read about 65 books, which is more than I think I have read in a single year since I was in high school and had a lot more time to read.  Then of course there were assorted comics and magazines, newspapers and blogs, but this is only about the books.  I hate to say that anything I really loved is the best of the year because I’m only one person and I didn’t consume everything that came out last year.  I only consumed the teeniest tiniest fraction of what came out last year and still have stacks of books to read.  So these are simply my ten favorite reads from 2011.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This book doesn’t come out until tomorrow, but after constant pestering of both the publisher and the author, I ended up with a copy.  Though I wasn’t able to sit down and read this in one uninterrupted go when I so desperately wanted to, I still loved every single moment of it.  I’ll have a full review up on Thursday.

Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

This is the first of two books that I received through Netgalley.  Both were by authors I was unfamiliar with, but I requested them because they appealed to one of my buttons.  In the case of Ashes it was a post-apocalyptic world.  Bick did something I really appreciated – she created the post-apocalyptic world while we were watching rather than just pick up when the world has already gone to hell.  Throw in some zombies, some interesting biological anomalies and the creepiest small town, and this became a book that I thought about long after it was finished.  It also helps that the ending made me flail like a crazy person.

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka & JH Williams III

Confession time: I didn’t use to be a big capes-and-tights comic fan.  I stuck to the horror and dark fantasy of Vertigo titles and avoided the complex and interwoven worlds of the various superheroes.  Then Batwoman came along and everything changed.  JH Williams III created some of the most kinetic artwork while Greg Rucka wrote for a female character that was fully human and not just a poster girl in pleather.  Thanks for being a gateway drug, guys…

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

The Postmortal has grown on me with the more distance I’ve gotten from reading it.  It’s a believable verging on terrifying look at what the world could turn into if near-immortality is achieved.  Perhaps my faith in humanity is less than most, but I can believe the human race would turn on itself before the inevitable environmental collapse.  And yet, at the same time, it had a lot of humor and clever moments.  Above all, though, it made me think and thinking can be fun.

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft & Head Games by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

The first volume left me acting like a madman on an airplane.  The second volume freaked me out in all the best ways.  How I’ve managed to avoid pushing right into the third volume, I’m not that sure, but Hill and Rodriguez have created a wonderful world of mystery, darkness and fantasy that I wish would never end.  Rodriguez’s art is so clean and consistent while Hill’s words are creepy and often times hysterical.  It’s a perfect partnership.

The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

This is the other Netgalley book that I had a hard time putting down.  After the very first chapter, I was hooked and wanted to read more about Caleb’s past and the creepy town he grew up in.  It gave me nightmares from the beginning and I quickly learned it was a book best read in broad daylight.  While the very end left me feeling a little out of sorts, the rest of the book was a tense and horrific ride.  I’m really eager to see what Gates comes up with next.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Prior to Beauty Queens I was only familiar with Bray through a few short stories, primarily her entry in Unicorns vs Zombies.  Having no interest in beauty pageants, most people who would participate in beauty pageants or teenage girl drama, I had some reservations going into this book, but they were all wiped away when I started the first page.  Foot notes?  A weird conniving corporation?  Political parodies?  A schizophrenic ninja girl?  Sign me up.  I don’t think any other book this year made me laugh as much as Beauty Queens.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book sat on my shelf for a very long time before I finally pulled it down.  There’s a robot girl, an environmental disaster and a lot of dense sci-fi type things tucked in Bacigalupi’s science fiction story.  It was the first adult science fiction book I’d read in some time and it reminded me of how captivating and exciting good sci-fi could be.  I’m looking forward to reading more by him in the future.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

In an alternate World War I, the allies fight with the help of genetically modified creatures while the Austrian side fights using giant smoke belching machines.  It’s written a bit younger than I was expecting, but it was a fun and entertaining adventure that surprised me many times.  With the addition of the beautiful line art, this was a great read that I will be selling to everyone needing a push into steampunk.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Yeah, I’m late to the party on this one.  I held out just because it was popular and the last really popular thing had been Twilight.  But I gave in and I read it on a very cold wintry snow day here in Texas.  I had to make myself read slower because I was so captivated and didn’t want it to end.  While the sequels to The Hunger Games have their own issues, all in all this is an awesome series that left me completely destroyed by the end of Mockingjay