Best reads of 2012

A big thank you to John Wiswell for setting up a list to compile the #bestreads2012

I’ve been on and off books for the whole year; many I’m still reading, others I have left for the moment.

But a few I finished and loved. There are 5 books as you will see; amongst them is a graphic novel which is still on going but thus far it’s been brilliant; there is fiction of course and a sort of non-fiction….

 

Fiction

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American Gods

I knew about  American Gods through other Neil Gaiman books, but only this year did I get the chance to purchase it.  Neil Gaiman has been my favorite author for some time now, but at first, back in 2009, I only knew him from reading Fragile Things. I had already fallen in love with his storytelling, and American Gods with the stamp “Bestseller” on dark  cover seemed to be the perfect next book to read. Grabbed it from the shelf in the bookstore and was so pleased for doing that  It is the perfect book.

American Gods is a magnificent book, and I am not exaggerating by saying that. It’s a brilliant mixture of modern days and old days, of old gods and new gods and their fight to fit into this world. I found myself having this amazing road-trip across states, along with the strong main character Shadow in search for some revelation of life and explanation of death. It is though a scary travel, exploring the bases of the American spirit and how the very few remaining gods live on the fragile belief of emigrants and the descendants of the old settlers. And it is quite a hallucinogenic exploration.

The plot and the narrative style are top-notch. I couldn’t say less for Gaiman anyway. Having read his masterpiece “Sandman” I can only say American Gods follows very closely, if not exceeds the comic book.

It’s a novel I will re-read and enjoy again. It’s dark and fast paced, it’s rich of characters that are complex and insane in their own charming ways.

I say, if you haven’t read it, make sure you do so!

 

Deathbird stories

I was introduced to this collection of 19 short stories through Neil Gaiman. The storytelling is definitely dark and very powerful, with a culmination that make the heart tremble with both excitement and fear. It was my first time reading him, and I did love the stories, I found them very inspirational and was pleased to have spotted his name now rather than later. There is a small difficulty in understanding Ellison just from this book; I advice, if you haven’t read other works by him do so. But on the other hand you may be fine with this as your first introduction to the author.

This particular collection deals with a certain theme, which regards gods. Ellison searches for them in places where belief is shaken or missing, where people are desperate and forsaken. He questions the need of gods again, once they have been forgotten and not needed, and draws them in shapes and forms, corresponding with the characters in both terrifying and comforting ways. This collection is where Gaiman had his influence on writing American Gods- Ellison as well explores the possibility of gods existing in this modern world through machines.

The book is a mixture of horror, fantasy and to an extent science fiction. It has great stories in it, dark and sinister, powerful and compelling writing with Gods on the front. What more can one want?

 

The Phantom of the Opera 

First and foremost I am a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  musical. But it didn’t seem fair to neglect the book from which the obsession originates. So glad I read it.

I think that because of the massive popularity and the movie, the book has suffered a little. It’s a brilliant read, out doing the expectation one like me has, having seen an on-screen production of the story. But it does exceed the expectations and it becomes more than just a love story situated in France.

It’s a gothic story, quite dark at places, describing the process of falling in love, becoming obsessed, and then descending into madness with a threatening fatal outcome. The atmosphere in the novel is heavy with mystery, with a melodic chill and enchanting danger that pulls the reader right into the opera affairs that revolve around the Opera ghost, a mysterious shadow with a “death’s head” lurking in his box, speaking from inside the walls and giving private singing lessons to young, but promising diva Christine Daae.

His love for her is impossible; not only because of his deformity and long-lasting solitude from the world underneath the opera house, but because of Christine’s love for another man. The story told brilliantly and very smart by Gaston Laroux escalates in high notes of thundering rage and demonic cries evoked by the broken heart of the Phantom- a soul to pity, but to fear as well. From a witty and terrifying ghost, to a real man trapped by the curse of his deformity, but gifted with the voice of an angel and the brilliance of a genius of architecting and composing, the Phantom is a powerful character, which at the end of the novel finds a spot in my heart and a bigger influence than his persona delivered through stage and screen.

The Phantom of the Opera is a magnificent book, feeling less like fiction and more like a real event written through gathered information of details and memoirs of people who had been misfortune to meet the ghost of the opera.

It is a read to remember. Especially when read at night.

 

The graphic novel

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American Vampire

              

Although it is still on going, American Vampire has been one of the most entertaining and exciting readings I’ve done this year/summer. It’s a graphic novel written by Scott Snyder. I’m setting up a few covers from different volumes.

The first volume opens in 1925 L.A. with a young wannabe big time actress Pearl Jones, who soon enough discovers the secrets of success, which leaves her dying in the desert. Being bitten by a vampire she struggles to survive, and with a transformation possibly coming, charismatic and cheeky main male character and strong vampire Skinner Sweet appears, dropping some blood to save Pearl and invite her to join his party of extraordinary new vampire species- faster, better, stronger and full speed in the sunlight. From there the story develops with more details about Skinner and his dark past, which part is written by Stephen King; it gets on about Pearl and her struggle to live like a human, but still be a badass vampire lady protecting her own.

The graphic novel has great artwork, very macabre and I particularly like the vision of the vampires – not the typical you’ll find in other modern day vampire tales. Proper vampires I must say!

The storytelling is done with finesse and is accompanied by blood spilling, throat ripping, vampire combat scenes!

Overall it’s an awesome first volume, followed by a great horror story extending into the other volumes. It’s a beautiful blend of mystery, western, fantasy which grows more and more with great characters and a strong narrative.

 

Science fiction

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The Sound of His Horn

The Sound of his Horn is a novel set in a dystopian future controlled by Nazis.

It sounds a bit overdone, and brings thoughts of futuristic sci-fi scenes of Nazi ruled cities, but… it’s not anything like that. Although there is a sense of time travel, the story does not venture into the science fiction world; there is not much mentions of anything sci-fi actually, other than the field of rays which send the main character, a British naval lieutenant Alan Querdillon into an alternate universe in which the Nazis have won WW2. The story does not focus on how the world is ran, or what has really happened to lead to this future. It centers on how Alan understands the place he has gone to. And it’s not that much of a story about Nazis. It’s a fable in a sense, in which humans are hunted and genes are manipulated.

Some find the storytelling a bit slow-paced and not that big of a deal, but I liked the book, having never really read anything as such, and was thrilled until the end, so it is really up to the individual to find his pace and his place in the story.

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8 thoughts on “Best reads of 2012

  1. I’ve had the first trade of American Vampire for months. I feel downright evil not reading through it, but my reading list is atrociously long. Maybe this will finally be the excuse that lets me check out Snyder’s writing, finally!

      • True. I’m happy I came across Deathbird Stories. Now I have a decent amount of his works. I’m building a collection!

        You’re welcome. I’m just reading through your posts. Good stuff! Lovely blog you have sir!

        Wallpaper is done by Jean-François Rauzier. He has a really great gallery of hyperphotos. 🙂

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