I renewed my library card this year to save money on books since I am not having the excess cash for book buying that I used to. I found that renewing the library card has freed me up to read all sorts of books I would not have picked up if I were to buy books. I think that was the best move I made all year in 2011.
I ended up reading about 87 books that year. A lot, I know, but I am a fast reader so it seemed like not that many to me. There were a few stand-outs and I want to share them here with you.
Ready Player One was the book that blew me away this year. It is set in the future when the world has gone to crap due to over-population and lack of resources to support this. Most people live in a virtual reality world called OASIS. They work, go to school, socialize, shop, play games, and do almost everything in OASIS by use of virtual reality headsets and controllers. The creator of OASIS dies and decides to leave control over OASIS (and through that, the world) to whomever can complete the scavenger hunt with the virtual world. Wade Watts, a 17 year old, decides he will try to win and has to compete against friends as well as an evil corporation who seeks to control OASIS. A very fun read full of 80's/90s pop culture and geek culture references.
What can I say about George R.R. Marin's latest book in A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons? I may be biased because I love this series almost as much as I love Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. It does not follow a lot of the characters in Martin's world but it furthers the story and left me wishing the next book was already written. I missed Jaime Lannister a bit but have hope he will be in the next book in the series since his character had a bit of setting up for the next book in this one. Lost of fans are starting to complain about how the story is dragging and how dare Martin not focus on certain characters. Me? I enjoy the ride and the story as it progresses and don't try to force how I want the story to be on an author. It is the author's story to tell. So, I loved this book and eagerly await the next book in the series. I miss the characters and wonder what they are up to.
I picked up The Radleys after seeing a write up about the book in a magazine. I totally enjoyed it. It was fun to read about a modern-day vampire family that is trying hard to fit into to normal life. The parents are hiding what the family is, vampire, from their teenage children. They are living the life of abstainers (from blood) and suffering through the health effects that brings just to be normal. Then their daughter Clara decides to go vegan with horrible consequences that force the Radleys to face what they really are. Throw in a uncle who is nothing but trouble coming around to "help" the family with the fall-out of Clara's situation and add a bunch of sarcastic humor. It makes for great reading and Matt Haig really really does a great job of creating his own vampire rules within the story.
Room is a book that blew me away. Jack is a child who grew up in one, small, room that was his entire world. Literally. His mother was kidnapped and held captive by her kidnapper in the room. Jack is a child she had with her kidnapper. Ma tries to make his childhood happy in this small space but she never gives up hope of escaping. Finally, when jack is 7 she sees the chance and has Jack escape and bring help back to her. The book deals with the aftermath of this and how hard it is for Jack, and his ma, to adapt to normal life after seven years in the room. It is a riveting read and I ended up reading it, without stopping, straight through to the end.
I wasn't sure I would like Divergent when I first picked it up. I had been burned by The Hunger Games series that ended on a real sour note and with a big mess of a book. It had me skeptical about the whole "after the world ends society" genre...especially when it came to young adult books. I was truly glad I took a chance to read this book because it blew Hunger Games out of the water. Roth's world is fully realized and violent but her heroine is made of tougher stuff than Hunger Game's Katniss. Katniss wishes she were as tough and cool as Divergent's Beatrice! I enjoyed the fact that Beatrice knew what she wanted and was certain on what boy she loved. She also was not afraid to fight for her family and what she believed in. So refreshing in a YA literary world full of weak females waiting around for a boy to love them. Beatrice kicks ass and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.
In 2010, I was at Comic Con in San Diego. I had heard about American Vampire in Entertainment Weekly so when I saw the first issue of the comic was on sale, I went to purchase it. To my surprise the woman at the booth where this comic was being sold said, "Oh the artist is at a table signing right this moment! Come with me and you can get it signed!" So, I was lead over the the table where Rafael Albuquerque signed my comic. Fast forward to 2012 and American Vampire Vol. 1 is released and I pick it up to see how the story-line progresses. It is totally involving and exciting! The art in it is perfect for the story and I ended up reading Vol 2. as well. Now I eagerly await Vol. 3 in the world of American Vampire. Definitely a great comic to check out if you love vampire stories.
And those are the books that rocked my world last year. It will be interesting to see what books catch my fancy in 2012. There is a whole year ahead and it is perfect for reading.