In 2019, I read a total of twenty two books that were either the start, continuation or end of a series. This is quite a lot for me, as usually I prefer standalone novels. I’ll let you know in this post whether it was the beginning of a series, the end or a continuation and whether or not I will be continuing on with the series in future.
1. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This is a slow burning science fiction novel that follows a diverse cast of characters and explores themes of friendship, love and family exquisitely. The adventures the characters embark upon are exciting with just enough danger, and the world building is rich from the offset.
Verdict: I will definitely be continuing with this one, most likely later this year.
2. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
This book was more scientific than a lot of science fiction I’ve read in the past, and it definitely gave my brain a workout. Furthermore, it explores philosophy and civilisation from an outsider’s perspective and the vanity of humanity. Whilst this one took me a little longer to read, I thoroughly enjoyed savouring it.
Verdict: I would like to continue with this series, but it is not at the top of my priority list at the moment, given that I don’t own the next one and I am trying to only buy the books I am using for projects.
3. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
This series surrounds the concept of ‘seasons’ which are destructive catastrophes that wipe out whole generations of people – these seasons can range from extreme acid rain to diseases to famine and some of them eerily reflect real life. This first book in the series follows a woman whose son has been murdered and daughter has been kidnapped and what happens when she chases down the man who committed these crimes. It is a complex book exploring individual differences, intellect, philosophy, politics, discrimination and sexuality, with Jemisin deftly incorporating each of these pieces of social commentary into an entertaining book full of adventure and danger in equal measure.
Verdict: I will definitely be continuing this one this year, preferably when I have a few days off work to dedicate myself to it properly.
4. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
I finished this book in December and have been thinking about getting to the sequel ever since, but am restricting myself to buying books for projects only. Kings of the Wyld follows a band of mercenaries who have long since disbanded and retired, but who come together for a final quest to rescue one of their children. It is full of camaraderie, humour and good, old-fashioned epic battles, all of which contributed to my enjoyment of it.
Verdict: I will definitely be getting to Bloody Rose as soon as my schedule allows.
5. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
This is the first book in the epic Wheel of Time series that was later completed by Brandon Sanderson. Whilst I enjoyed parts of the book, there were others that felt somewhat cliché to me, and I got the feeling that it could have been edited down significantly, with much less repetition. However, I have been informed that the story picks up in the second volume, so I’m torn – should I continue?
Verdict: Considering continuing but unsure, as I didn’t majorly love this first book in the series.
Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction:
1. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
This was on my least favourite books of 2019 list, so I’m unsure why I still possess my copy of it, but here it is. Shatter Me is full of all of the young adult fiction tropes that occurred when I was a teenage, and I didn’t appreciate it. It seemed unrealistic that the main character would be so bothered by the boys who found her attractive when there was so much political tension to contend with. Not to mention the repetitive language that makes reading the book tremendously tedious to read through.
Verdict: Many people have said this series improves later on, but I have no desire to slog through any more books that are similar to Shatter Me, so I will not be continuing.
2. The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This series was so compulsively readable with the multimedia format and the political and scientific intrigue that I read all of the books within it in 2019. Being the only series I completed last year, it clearly had something special about it, and despite being written for a young adult audience, it appeals to adults also. I would thoroughly recommend this series, and will consider picking up the duo’s new book Aurora Rising soon.
3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Whilst this contained some of the tropes I’ve come to hate within young adult fiction, the Russian inspired aspects and the magic system saved it for me. Furthermore, I have been advised that Bardugo’s books get stronger the more you read, and since this first one wasn’t awful, I’m willing to see if this is true, especially as the Six of Crows duology piques my interest.
Verdict: Will be continuing, but not an immediate priority.
4. The Merciless by Danielle Vega
This was clearly not any excellent feat of literature, but it provided an afternoon of mindless entertainment, reminiscent of Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl with extra satanism. Perfect for a quick read around Halloween, I would recommend it only if you’re not looking for anything serious, and be prepared for cliché and lots of it. Since it reminded me of shows like Buffy the Vampire, I enjoyed it well enough, but I wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops to recommend it.
Verdict: May continue if I feel a reading slump coming along, or for a quick read closer to Halloween, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others.
5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Another book that wouldn’t be on any top books of the decade list, but that is supremely enjoyable for what it is. Following Jude and Taryn who were transported into the faerie world when they were young after Madoc killed their parents, this book is filled to the brim with action and political intrigue.
Verdict: I’ve already started reading the sequel, The Wicked King, and am currently ten chapters in, with the view to finishing in the next day or two.
6. A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan
This is a cute little middle grade book about Violet, whose family moves to a town called Perfect, because of her father’s new job. Upon first glance, everything in this town is as its name suggests, perfect. However, upon delving beneath the surface, and meeting a local boy named, well, Boy, Violet realises not everything is as it initially appears. With just the right amount of horror and threat, but also exploring friendship and family dynamics, I wish this book had been around when I was in middle school.
Verdict: I will continue with this series at some stage, but it is not a high priority for me at the moment.
Graphic Novels and Manga:
1. Monstress volume 1 by Sana Takeda and Marjorie Liu
Whilst this volume was somewhat confusing and didn’t fully explore the concepts involved, I have been told it picks up in the second volume, so what was initially a series to be abandoned, has now become one to look out for when my book buying restrictions are relieved.
Verdict: Will be continuing later in the year when my other projects are finished.
2. Blue Exorcist volumes 1 – 5 by Kazue Kato
This is one of three manga series I tried last year and it has been getting better with each volume, although I must admit, I’ve allowed my catching up with the series to fall by the wayside somewhat, so that must be an extra goal for 2020. This series follows the son of Satan and all of the adventures he embarks upon whilst learning how to become an exorcist, the very opposite of what he is destined to be.
Verdict: I will be continuing with this series as my manga choice for next month, as I have the next five volumes on my shelf waiting to be read.
3. Yona of the Dawn volumes 1 and 2 by Mizuho Kusanagi
Yona of the Dawn is another of the three manga series I tried last year, and despite having only read two volumes so far, is probably my favourite. The plot is engaging and the artwork is sweet, compared to the the artwork in Blue Exorcist which can be accused of pandering to the male gaze in some panels. It’s a shame I haven’t read more of this series yet, but the volumes are a little more on the pricy side, so I tend to wait until they drop in price before purchasing them. Having said that, I do have the next two volumes to be getting along with.
Verdict: Another series I will be continuing with in 2020, most likely as my manga choice for April, as I have another series in mind for March.
4. Tokyo Tarareba Girls volume 1 by Akiko Higashimura
This was the first manga series I tried last year after buying it in a comic book store on a date. I thought it was amusing, but lacked substance, and the volumes are extremely expensive for what they are, which has put me off continuing thus far. The series follows a group of single women who meet up in a restaurant to eat food, drink beer and gossip, but that’s really all it is, and is somewhat shallow.
Verdict: Probably won’t continue with this one unless there is a dramatic drop in the price of the next volumes.
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