Now that I've already made lists covering my picks for the best books and comics that were released in 2020, I figured I'd put together a list of my favorite reads from the year regardless of release year. I decided to exclude things in my other two lists (if only to make it easier to fit more things!). Check out my favorite books, comics, and manga reads below.
★★★ There is a moment in Ready Player Two where one of the primary antagonists mutters the phrase "Don't you kids ever get tired of picking through the wreckage of a past generation's nostalgia." when addressing the heroes of the story. I'm still not sure if it's an attempt at self-satire or a show of... Continue Reading →
The Original is an audio-first story from Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal. I received a review copy through Net Galley. I've read some of Sanderson's previous work but it was my first exposure to Kowal. The Original is a near future sci-fi story where humans have developed cloning technology. If they can afford, people can pay to have a clone set up for if they die. Weekly appointments to back up all memories assure that the clone will be able to mostly pick up right where the authentic article left off. The Original focuses on a woman named Holly whose life is turned upside down when she awakens as what's known as a replica. This special kind of clone is created only when the original human has broken the law and is on the run, with the express purpose of hunting down those they were created from.
Chaos Rising is the latest Thrawn-focused entry in the Disney Canon series of Star Wars novels. Again written by Thrawn's creator, Timothy Zahn, Chaos Rising serves as the first book that truly explores the Chiss Ascendancy prior to Thrawn's encounter and joining of the Empire. The first Thrawn trilogy in the Disney Canon explored Thrawn's rise to power leading up to his inclusion in the Rebels animated series. In this newest trilogy, Zahn will be turning back the clock even further to focus on Thrawn's earliest military days and the political and military inner workings of the Chiss Ascendancy.
Shorefall is the second book in The Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett. I had a good time reading the first entry, Foundryside, when it was released in 2018 and I've been eagerly anticipating this follow-up. One of the hallmarks of the series so far is Bennett's focus on building a rich world with a fully fleshed out system of magical objects. Foundryside left the main character, Sancia, and her crew of friends ready to open their own scriving company. Shorefall picks up three years after the events of Foundryside and brings back the same cast.
Coming on the heels of the completion of the final season of the Clone Wars animated series, Disney Lucasfilm has published The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark. The book is an anthology of stories that take place in the same time as the Clone Wars series with contributions from a wide range of authors including Jason Fry, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Lou Anders. Most of the authors have written for Star Wars in some capacity, whether it's full-blown Disney Canon novels or shorter YA and all-ages fare. I love Clone Wars and it was fun to dive back in to stories with some of my favorite characters from the series.
Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston is the latest entry in the Disney-era line of Star Wars novels. It's the second time that Johnston has penned a novel about Queen Amidala, after writing Queen's Shadow last year. Whereas Queen's Shadow found Johnston expanding on Padmé's time in the Galactic Senate after stepping down as Queen of Naboo, Queen's Peril bookends the Padmé story by going back to the time immediately after she was elected Queen. Johnston again focuses heavily on Padmé's relationship with her handmaidens, and fans of the series are sure to recognize some familiar faces as the Queen assembles the group. Much like Queen's Shadow, Queen's Peril is mostly targeted at a YA audience.
LaGuardia is a 4-issue series written by Hugo award winning author Nnedi Okorafor with art by Tana Ford. The series is part of the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse that's run by legendary former Vertigo editor Karen Berger. Taking place an indeterminate amount of time in the future, LaGuardia finds an Earth where aliens are now integrated with human society. Future, a pregnant Nigerian-American doctor, is returning home to New York City after several years living in Lagos, Nigeria. Future's stated reason for returning home is to raise her child at home in America, but some mystery surrounds Citizen, the father of her child, and the sentient illegal plant named Letme Live that Future has smuggled into the United States.
The City We Became is the latest from acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy author N.K. Jemisin. Building off of the short story The City Born Great, The City We Became is a fantasy/horror novel about a group of 5 people that have been chosen by New York City to protect itself from an evil threat seeking to destroy it. When I say chosen by New York City, I'm not talking about a democratic election. Jemisin utilizes the mythos of New York City as a core fabric of the book and personifies the city to make it both a character and setting. It's something that I felt to be very unique and original.
Network Effect is the fifth entry in The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. It's the first full length novel of the series. The previous 4 Murderbot stories have all been novellas. The series follows an AI "SecUnit", an android whose responsibility is to protect those who it is contracted to, named Murderbot. Murderbot has gained some freedoms not usually afforded to bots and much of the series' charm comes from Murderbot trying to understand the human condition.