1. The best book you read last year.
I actually picked three, because I read from very different genres.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed Along With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
I don’t know what I expected this book to be, or my own reactions to it. But this book was nothing but informative, and my reactions were severe. I was quite young when the situation in Rwanda arose, so my memory of it and my learning after the fact is limited. It was a friend who recommended I pick up this book, as I do enjoy non-fiction but haven’t read any in a while.
This is written in such a way, by Philip Gourevitch that you can’t help but be involved in the lives of those whose stories are presented. You also can’t help but consider yourself, and your own emotional reactions to things and what type of person you are.
It is informative, it is visceral and violent, but it is truthful. It’s a truth that we all need to hear though, that sometimes, we need to look outside of ourselves at the people around us and see what might be needed outside of our own cushy existences.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Spoilers (slightly) for The Book Thief and FreakAngel below.
I had actually heard very little about this book before I read it, except for a few mentions about the fact that it was a good one.
Initially, before I picked it up, I was a little bit apprehensive, knowing that it was supposed to be young adult fiction but I am ever so glad that I picked it up. Because I would have been missing out on something in not having read this.
The way it is written, with Death himself as the narrator of the book is something that captured my attention immediately. Where some might have found it too out there, I felt welcomed by the way in which it was written.
Liesel, the main character, or one of two, is a refreshing change from the normal. Sometimes selfish, she is almost always an honest character even in her thievery. Her best friend Rudy, is a delight as well and the innocence of children even when effected by loss is present here.
Hans for me is one of the true heroes of the story, a fully fleshed out character with his own fears concerning his family, but his own convictions, refusing to fall to Nazi Germany’s regime. This book is something that I never could have expected, and while the end did make me sob it was perfect.
FreakAngels Series by Warren Ellis
This, originally a webcomic, and one that fell away from me at one point is an exercise in fantastic art, fantastic world building and wonderful story telling.
The characters are not good, but they’re also not evil (well, some of them are). Most of them fall into the shades of gray, into the world in between morality and immorality and all of them are striving for survival. Some of them are striving for redemption. And it is amazing.
(Honorable mention goes to Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja)