Friday, February 28, 2014

Our Favourite Books of 2013 Part 2: Julia's Picks

Last month Nicki picked her favourite books of 2013. This month, Julia at Mostly Books looks back on her favourite books of 2013...

How do you pick just a few favourite books from 2013 when you have read so many? After much deliberation I decided to pick the ones that stuck in my mind the most - and no surprise, they are all sci-fi.

I like an exciting read, a book that draws you in and takes you to somewhere you have never been before and never will. Exotic planets, possible futures and post apocalyptic devastation seem to be my favourite, and teen read ‘Earth Girl’ by Janet Edwards definitely falls into these categories.

On a future Earth most of its inhabitants are throwbacks, people who cannot survive on other planets due to their inadequate immune system. At birth they are ‘ported’ to earth and then in 97% of cases they are abandoned by their parents, who wish only to escape the shame of birthing an ‘ape’ and are then brought up in government run facilities similar to group homes. These handicapped children will never be able to leave the planet. Jarra, who is turning eighteen, decides to study history at an off-world university, as he first year is studied on Earth, at the New York archaeological dig site with children from other planets.

This is a wonderful story that explores how prejudices can influence how people are perceived and how the lines between truth and lies can slowly blur together. And if you love this book, you will definitely want to read the sequel 'Earth Star' which is also out in paperback.

Another book I liked this year was ‘Dark Eden’ by Chris Beckett where John Redlantern lives in a world of perpetual darkness. Their light comes from the bioluminescent flora and fauna of Eden that grow in their small almost tropical enclosed valley that is surrounded on all sides by snow and ice.  Everyone who lives there is descended from Tommy and Angela, two astronauts who crashed on the planet 180 years ago.

John becomes unhappy with his life and wonders if there is anything outside their small valley and his determination to escape to a better place splits the Family apart, but how much is John's plan motivated by a desire for humanity to survive on Eden and how much to appease his own ego? This is a great exploration of a new society whose whole history all comes from the life and experiences of only two people, and how quickly a tight knit community like this can break down when resources dwindle and beliefs are challenged.

Chris is working on a sequel to Dark Eden (tentatively scheduled for later this year) entitled 'Mother of Eden'. It's currently being serialised Aethernet magazine, but the novelization may be slightly different.

My third choice although not published in 2013 was new to me and I think was possibly my favourite read of the year. ‘Warm Bodies’ by Isaac Marion ticked all the boxes for me. It had everything: zombies, monsters, romance and a few surviving humans all set against a post apocalyptic landscape. When ‘R’ kills and eats a human called Perry he finds himself seeing parts of Perry's life through his own eyes and how this boy had loved a girl called Julie, a girl that is about to be killed and eaten by his fellow Zombies. For reasons he cannot understand he decides to save her. As they spend more time together he begins to realise he is slowly changing, not just internally but externally too.

I loved the zombie ‘R’ and his character just got better and better, as he fell for Julie and remembered what it means to be human. Profound and poetic with a touch of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ this is a novel for everyone. Totally gripping and sometimes wildly funny this is a great boy meets girl love story with a twist. Interestingly, Marion has written a prequel to this book 'The New Hunger' to coincide with the launch of the film. 

I was going to stick with three but had to include one more title, a picture book written by two band members of Mcfly called ‘The Dinosaur Who Pooped A Planet’ and with a title like this what more could you want. Danny and Dinosaur are best friends and when confronted with a choice of chores or space they choose space. They steal a rocket and head of into the great beyond. But after a while Dinosaur gets hungry and eats everything in sight.  When he realises that they can’t get home without their rocket he does the only thing he can to get it all back! In space, No one can smell your poop…

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