RogerBW's Blog

2016 in Books 30 December 2016

In 2016 I've read 133 books, down a little from recent years.

I wasn't a Hugo voter this year, but I did read The Fifth Season. Mixed feelings, but a very powerful book even if not very "enjoyable" in the conventional sense. I preferred Ancillary Mercy even so.

In SF not eligible for the Hugo: The Risen Empire impressed me hugely.

In mystery I made significant progress on my (re-)read of Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh (and Christianna Brand too), though I may have overdone it a bit; that's why I slowed down a bit in the latter part of the year, as these are shorter than most modern books and I've been mixing in more newer material.

Some books I didn't finish this year were:

Stout, Rex, The Black Mountain (1954): I was going to read this for Past Offences' 1954 month, but I got about a tenth of the way into it and despised Nero Wolfe… not for his habits, but for the way the author is so blatantly on his side, and he knows it, and it makes him smug.

Lovesey, Peter: Stagestruck (2011): DS Peter Diamond has to investigate a case at the Theatre Royal, but theatres are his "worst nightmare" because of a childhood trauma. But two books earlier in The Secret Hangman (2007) he's been entirely happy to spend time at a theatre. This smacks of an author who doesn't care, and I suddenly find I don't care either. A let-down in a series which until then I had mostly enjoyed.

Brookmyre, Chris: Dead Girl Walking (2015): Brookmyre tries to blend his early sense of wonder with his recent relentlessly mainstream crime fiction, with a Parlabane who's separated from Sarah and professionally disgraced (all entirely off-stage), alternating narrative voice with the violinist in a rock band whose lead has gone missing. DS Catherine McLeod comes in two-thirds of the way through the book to try to prop up the story and lend a vaguely sympathetic police viewpoint, but it has no energy, no sense of fun: sure, it's about some fairly unpleasant subjects, but many of Brookmyre's earlier books have been too, and they were at least engaging enough for me to read to the end. What a crash from when Brookmyre was one of my "buy on sight" authors, as recently as 2009. (But this has inspired me to reread some of his earlier books.)

Baker, Mishell: Borderline (2016): Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a suicide attempt, but now she's getting a second chance: the Arcadia Project, which (as it turns out) is the informal interface between California and Faerie. They're all desperately broken people, magic is horrible too, and if ever a young adult novel was trying to tell kids not to go off on their own and chase the fantastic things in the world, this is it. The writing was great, bar some preachiness about the treatment of people with mental illness, but the rest was horrid.

See also:
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
The Risen Empire, Scott Westerfeld
The Killing of Worlds, Scott Westerfeld
The Fifth Season, N K Jemisin


  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 08:01pm on 30 December 2016

    86 books for me this year. Plus 5 I gave up on part way through.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 08:29pm on 30 December 2016

    I still find it difficult to give up on a book. Early training I suppose.

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