Although it often doesn’t feel like it quite yet, we’re well into Spring… and I am not doing so well in my efforts to broaden my reading list to titles outside the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genre. But what’s the point in a New Years’ resolution if you’re not going to bend it a bit? And, I’ve included a few non-genre (or at least low/no-magic fantasy) titles here, and it’s really the effort that counts, right? …right? Anyway, here are some of the titles that have kicked off my Spring reading list!
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Sweeney’s debut novel focuses on four siblings who are very close to finally receiving the inheritance (“The Nest”) that has been put away for them. They are all depending on this money to solve a variety of problems in their lives, many of which they’ve brought upon themselves. It’s a light but still moving dysfunctional family drama, exploring what money can do to us and our relationships.
Adulthood is a Myth, by Sarah Andersen
And for something much more light-hearted, this is a collection of Sarah Anderson’s “Sarah’s Scribbles” comic, exploring the theme of young adulthood and it’s expectations, disappointments, and challenges. For those who have difficulty with the whole concept of being a grown-up (and I include myself there…), it’s thoroughly enjoyable and reassuring.
Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
This is novella plays on the familiar trope of children finding doorways to other worlds. However, it doesn’t focus on the other worlds themselves; it’s concerned with what happens to those children after they come home, and especially those children who can’t adapt to normal life again. If they’re lucky some of these children find their way to Miss Eleanore’s school, which hides from the parents its true purpose as a place for these children to be understood and helped through the transition, while being around others who have had similar experiences. It’s beautifully written, and McGuire really makes you feel the yearning of the children for their lost worlds. My only warning is that it’s short, and will leave you wanting more!
Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel
Told in oral history style through interview recordings and diary entries, Sleeping Giants is enjoyable, straightforward Sci-Fi. It’s premise is the discovery of a giant robot (whose body parts are scattered all over the world) and the team who assembles it. However, it’s focus is equally on the characters themselves, and how they cope with the challenges – physical, mental, interpersonal, and political – of a discovery that will have massive repercussions for the entire world.
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Smoke is set in Victorian-era London, where “sin” – whether it be actions or even just thoughts – is literally visible on a person, in the form of smoke emanating from the body. Upper class society is structured around making oneself as pious as possible, so you almost never display Smoke. It’s a really interesting concept, and Vyleta’s world-building here is excellent. I especially liked the exploration of class structure here, as it related to the tolerance of Smoke. Recommended for those who enjoy alternate-history fiction of the Victorian persuasion, with a little fantasy thrown in.
Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
Tidhar was the 2012 World Fantasy Award Winner for Osama, and has been compared to classic Sci-Fi giants like Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut. This novel is almost more of a collection of inter-related stories, and has been described as a blend of speculative fiction, family history, faith, racial and cultural tension, all meditating on what it means to be human. It’s a challenging but rewarding title.
(and thank you to NetGalley for providing advanced readers’ copies!)