I’m a little late on this one, but I didn’t have my laptop with me while I was away for the Christmas holiday. I also like to make these posts after the year is through — I’m always worried I’ll read an incredible book after I post my list (that would have happened this year, in fact).
I read some incredible books this year. I got to discover the very best of Young Adult, a genre I had never really read before. Blogging has really broadened my horizons and I’m reading thing I wouldn’t have picked up before I started. With that in mind, I decided to narrow down my selection to books that were published in 2017. These are in no particular order.
I’ve done a video featuring these books, so if you’d like to take a look you can find that here!
Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan
Remember this book that I wouldn’t shut up about at the beginning of the year? I absolutely loved Hold Back the Stars and it remains high on the list of best books of 2017. There are so many factors that make this book great. I loved the setting (both in space and on Earth), the characters, the plot, and the writing. Khan works in film and you can absolutely tell. Her gorgeous descriptions of our heroes in Earth’s orbit are astonishing.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Strange the Dreamer may have been a long-awaited release for many people, but I had never read Taylor’s books before. All I knew about this book was it had a beautiful cover and was incredibly hyped. I tend to not do well with hyped books, so I was cautious going in. However, I absolutely adored Strange the Dreamer.
A gorgeous book in every sense of the word, Strange the Dreamer swept me away to another world. I would look up and hours had passed! It has dreamy prose, amazing worldbuilding, and unforgettable characters. I will say that if I picked this book up at the wrong time, I probably wouldn’t have liked it. I’d highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for a dreamy novel that is filled with flowery prose.
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
I loved the Six of Crows duology and was delighted to hear that we were getting a companion book to Bardugo’s Grisha universe. I really love fairy tale retellings, so I knew this would be right up my alley.
Bardugo takes familiar tales like Beauty and the Beast and sets them in the Grishaverse, twisting them into dark and feminist tales you can imagine her amazing heroines would grow up on. Although I was familiar with every tale in this book, they still felt incredibly fresh and new. This book is fully illustrated, so I’d highly recommend you get a physical copy!
Electric Dreams and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
I’m cheating!! Philip K. Dick has long since passed away, but these editions came out in 2017, so I’m going to make an exception. PKD has kind of been Author of the Year for me — I had never read any of his books, despite loving classic sci-fi.
Electric Dreams was the perfect place for me to start. Ten short stories with an introduction for each, I really got to see the influence that his work has had on generations of readers. I don’t usually enjoy short stories, but I really loved this collection.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of the most famous science fiction novels of all time. It was the book behind Bladerunner, one of the most famous and influential science fiction films of all time. I absolutely loved this dark, disturbing book. It’s a cerebral sci-fi novel, so don’t expect a huge amount of action. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? makes you think, particularly as we get closer and closer to PKD’s future.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was the first YALC book I read and it was easily my favourite. If you read the back copy, you expect a light and fluffy romance in a sci-fi setting. That’s absolutely not what you get. Instead, this little book packs a huge punch and surprises you at every turn. As I say in my review, read this book before it gets spoiled for you. It is absolutely unexpected and incredible.
Blackwing by Ed McDonald
I burnt out on adult fantasy awhile back and haven’t picked anything from the genre up in ages. When I saw Blackwing available on NetGalley, I initially passed over it. But I kept hearing amazing things! I decided to give it a shot and I am so happy I did. It is genuinely one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read. And I have read a lot of fantasy.
If you’re a fan of Joe Abercrombie (as I am, he’s one of my favourite authors), you should really give Blackwing a go. The western setting is fantastic and reminded me a lot of the First Law world, but managed to very much be its own thing. I think this was probably the best fantasy debut of the year and McDonald is now one of my insta-buy authors. I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.
Artemis by Andy Weir
Artemis! How long I had been waiting for you. I’ve blathered on so much about how much I love The Martian, and I was thrilled to hear that Andy Weir was releasing a new book in 2017. It is hard to beat The Martian, but Artemis is just as good, if not better.
If you’re expecting a sequel to Weir’s debut novel, you’re going to be disappointed. Artemis stands on its own as a fantastic near-future heist gone wrong. I loved the plot, the science, the characters, and his writing. The humour that made The Martian so fun and readable is very much present in Artemis. Jazz is an incredible character that I loved to read about. There is no Second Book Syndrome here!
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
I had only ever read Matt Haig’s non-fiction and really loved the sound of How to Stop Time. It turned out to be even better than I thought. A bittersweet combination of historical fiction and science fiction, this book follows a man who was born in the 1600’s and has aged incredibly slowly. It is funny and tragic and really sticks with you long after you reach the final page. I didn’t think it was a perfect book, but it is just so dang wonderful!
How to Stop Time has achieved one of the highest accolades I can give — I gave a copy as a Christmas present to two of the best readers I know.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the first books I read this year and has endured as one of the best. I didn’t know much about it going in, but I heard a little about it on Twitter and decided to pick it up. I was swept up in Arden’s gorgeous story!
This book takes place in medieval Russia and combines Russian history, culture, and folklore to create a dark, adult fairy tale to be enjoyed on wintery nights. I loved this book so much that I recommend it and lend it out left and right! I was lucky enough to be sent a proof of the sequel, The Girl in the Tower, and I can comfortably say that this trilogy will continue to be astonishing!
I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
This one is getting an honourable mention because while I read it in 2017, it doesn’t come out until January 2018. I was going to stick to my “only published in 2017” rule, but it was impossible to not include I Am Thunder.
I Am Thunder is a debut novel that explores how British teens can get radicalized by extremist groups like ISIS. Sounds grim? It’s not. It is an astonishingly funny, gripping, and hopeful book. Not only does it take the crown as Best Book Justine Read in 2017, it also features one of the best female characters I’ve encountered in a long time. Even if it doesn’t sound like your kind of book, I highly encourage you to read I Am Thunder. I think it will prove to be an incredibly important book. A full review is coming!
So that’s my very long list of the best books I read in 2017! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to pick any of these up? Have you come up with your own list? Let me know!