Sunday, 7 December 2008

Books of 2008

So, the lists are starting to appear. Might as well add mine to the mix.

Strangely I've not read half as much as I'd hope to have. Now I'm not commuting there's a serious chunk of the reading day gone. Also, whenever I sit down to read I feel I should be writing.
Ho hum.

Anyway, in no particular order...

1. This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson. A huge brick of a novel but a work of genius. It's about Robert Fitzroy, captain of the Beagle, and his life, coinciding with Darwin, the battle between Faith and Science, between Empire and Independence, and between honour and advancement. If Bernard Cornwell calls it a 'masterpiece' you have to take a serious look at it.

2. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Utterly chilling and very moving. A classic coming of age tale and Charles's reflection on Chapter 39 is what it's all about. "Our hour is short, eternity is long. With this knowledge came pity and mercy". Too many horror books dwell on the shock, the passing fright and creeping dread of a thing, a monster, that can be beaten. This book's goes way, way beyond that.

3. Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell. Part of a trilogy of his reimaginings of the Tale of Troy. Heroic fanatasy as it should be. A perfect balance between the thrill and terror of war. The battle scenes are full of fire, because he allows you to love and care for the characters. Working through Shield of Thunder right now.

4. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. A real 'get your teeth into' fantastical fantasy. Too many 'fantasy' novels are terribly mundane. This isn't. Has a real Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz vibe, what I love is that the conventions are played with mercilessly. The Unchosen One, indeed! Dare I say it's better than Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere? It is, IMHO.

5. Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera. Lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this and must admit, I approached it with soem trepidation. It's about 15 yo Khalid, a British born Muslim who gets kidnapped whilst on holiday to Pakistan and ends up spending two years in Guantanamo Bay. It's a hard but important read. Find out how the War on Terror's being fought. Khalid's brilliant and I've rarely got so involved nor felt such a part of a character. It's out in Feb 2009 but I do recommend it BIG TIME.


Sue Hyams said...

No! Un Lun Dun isn't better than Neverwhere! I loved the world and the premise that Neil Gaiman created but wasn't that struck with Un Lun Dun. Maybe it's because I WAS so taken with Neverwhere that China Mieville's world wasn't as convincing to me? Anyway, good list - thanks. MORE books for me to go out and buy!

Tracy said...

Now I'm going to have to read Neverwhere. Another book for the Christmas list.
I loved Un Lun Dun too - great imagery.

SarwatC said...

Didn't you recommend Un Lun Dun to me?
I think my opinion of Neverwhere was tainted by the BBC mini-series. It wasn't very good. Plus for some reason the dialogue works on the page, but not so well when spoken out. But then what the hell do I know, we're talking about Neil Gaiman, I'm so not worthy!

Tracy said...

Hi Sarwat
Yes, I did recommend Un Lun Dun. I also recommended it on The Greenhouse blog and Sarah said she commisioned it when she was at Macmillan.
I must admit to never having read any Neil Gaiman but I've just purchased The Graveyard Book.
I'm going to be good and wait before buying any more books before Christmas. (I can do it! I can do it!)
Did I ever recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go. I loved it - I thought the premise was fantastic.

Tracy said...

I'm rubbish - I've ordered Neverwhere. What did I say about not buying any books before Christmas?!!