I love best of lists. They are so much fun to work on and create. They just make me oh so happy. At my library, I am in charge of two Best of the Year lists - Adult Comics & Graphic Novels, and Science Fiction & Fantasy. 2012 had SO many wonderful books to choose from, so I wanted to share both lists here. I will highlight a few of my favorites, and then link you to a Goodreads list with all of the selections.
2012 was incredibly strong for the Fantasy and Science Fiction short story world. Kij Johnson really stands out among several outstanding options with her first collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees. Johnson has won numerous awards for her stories, including sweeping up the Hugo and Nebula for the story, "The Man Who Bridged The Mist". To put it simply, her writing is beautiful. The sentences are just gorgeous and each story seems to come back to the theme of loneliness. I adored this book. Definitely one of my favorites in total - not just in Science Fiction & Fantasy.
This book totally floored me for all the right reasons. John Scalzi's Redshirts manages to be action-packed, totally hilarious, and incredibly touching all at the same time. The plot is like the best episode of Star Trek ever. Andrew Dahl is on his first assignment in the Universal Union, kind of like the universal army or Starfleet in the Star Trek world, and he begins to realize that every time the crew goes on an away mission, Ensigns or newbies, die, while the upper level crew come away alive, despite sometimes receiving crippling injuries. So Dahl starts to dig and realizes that they may be actually be in a science fiction show...and the worst part is - it might not even be a good show. This is the first Scalzi book I have ever read, and let me tell you, I am ready to read his entire catalog. The man has some serious skills. Surprisingly it replaced Gone Girl as my all-time favorite book of the year. Added bonus: Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook.
As a newer comic book reader, I was incredibly excited when I found out about The New 52, and I would like to take a quick second to thank DC Comics for having the guts to re-launch their classic characters with new artists, authors, and story-lines. It allowed new readers, like myself, to find a starting place, and dive headfirst into the DC world. Of the re-launches there are a number of stars, but my personal favorite is Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. To say the artwork is stunning is an understatement. It truly is a work of art. And Batwoman's storyline is so human and striking - she is flawed but still a hero that you can route for. I feel like they matured her character without resorting to trite violence and sex scenes. Bravo.
100 Months by John Hicklenton is tragic and so striking. Hicklenton was the comic book artist that penned Judge Dredd comics and he had a very distinct and, dare I say, metal style. Tragically he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the year 2000, and this graphic novel was his very last work - written just before he decided to take his own life by assisted suicide after living with the disease for 10 years. On it's surface this fable is about the final battle for Earth's survival but deeper down it is a tale of pain and death with brutal yet beautiful imagery. Incredibly powerful work.