30 December 2009

Best of 2009 -- The Best of the Genres

This year, Word Nerd is introducing a new awards category -- Best of the Genres.

Word Nerd reads gobs of genre fiction, across myriad genres (and subgenres, come to that.) While these books don't always rise to the level of a top ten, many of them are downright entertaining reads. So, starting this year, Word Nerd's opening a new category, to recognize the best in the genres that she's read in the past year. Like many awards, there will be some double winners from this category and others.

But without further delay, here are this year's Best of the Genres winners:

Fantasy -- Taltos, Steven Brust
Word Nerd's been rereading this highly entertaining series over the past year. They are all good, but Taltos is probably the best, telling Vlad's backstory is such a captivating way. It's an amazing skill that Brust has to tell the story out of chronological order and get all the pieces to line up.

Historical Fiction -- The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet, Arturo Perez-Reverte
Perez-Reverte is somewhere is Word Nerd's awards almost every year and 2009 is no exception. The fifth Captain Alatriste book exemplifies the political intrigue, romance and swashbuckling that makes the whole series so good.

Mystery -- The Poet, Michael Connelly
From her Michael Connelly jag this year, The Poet is Word Nerd's favorite so far. Finally, a realistic portrayal of what reporters are really like. Plus, a darn good mystery story in the process that kept the pages turning right up to the end.

Paranormal -- Shadowlight, Lynn Viehl
Word Nerd is a regular reader of Lynn Viehl's great blog, Paperback Writer, and through there, got introduced to her paranormal Darkyn series. Shadowlight was the first of a few spin-off series, the Kyndred, and Word Nerd's loving the new take. It's great to see the cross-over characters and the wrinkles to the already deep world Viehl has created are amazing.

Urban Fantasy -- Deathwish, Rob Thurman
Cal Leandros. Sigh. Niko Leandros. Sigh. Ok, Word Nerd will admit a bit of a literary crush on this pair of monster-slaying brothers. Thurman's use of mythology and legends is great, weaving old stories into modern-day New York. Moreover, her monsters stay scary (and her heroes are scary too sometimes, which makes for great reading).

Science Fiction -- Conspirator, C.J. Cherryh
Since Word Nerd's on this trend... Bren Cameron. Double sigh. When Cherryh's Foreigner universe series caught Word Nerd's attention back when she was in high school, Bren Cameron has been such a clear character in her mind. Once again, in the 10th volume in this universe, what it means to be human and alien is challenged, flipped over and done so with deft prose.

Young Adult -- The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
A student in the program Word Nerd works for in her day job recommended this book and wowzers, is it a doozy. Word Nerd laid awake one night worrying about the protagonist. That alone gives the book high marks for tension, pacing, plotting, character development and that sine qua non that makes a book like this special. The sequel, Catching Fire, also gets big thumbs-up.

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