I read 28 books in 2017. These are the ones I would happily recommend. Not a ton of new books to recommend this year, because I also was finishing reading the Harry Potter series with my daughter, and re-reading The Lies of Locke Lamora series, which I’ve recommended elsewhere. Ironically, all three books I’m recommending here are the first of a trilogy. I know that can seem overwhelming, but I loved these books, and the series they each begin.
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
At its core, this series is about finding your place in the world. Binti is a member of the Himba people, a deeply traditional African culture. She leaves her home, her people, and her planet to study at the prestigious Oomza University. Before she can even come to terms with that decision, her ship is attacked by the Meduse, an alien race with a grudge against the university. The consequences of this attack will change her life forever, and leave her in a unique position, caught between homes, between cultures, and between species. I can’t say enough good things about this book, especially if you’re looking to dip your toes into Afrofuturism.
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin
I’m conflicted, because on the one hand, this book deserves every bit of praise that has been directed at it. On the other hand, I feel like I needed a huge content warning. I loved it, but I know that my wife would hate it, because it deals heavily with the lasting repercussions of a horrific trauma suffered by the main character. So, I guess I’ll give that content warning here: trigger warning for child abuse and murder. This is not a happy world to spend time in.
That said, the story is incredible. These books deal with a post-apocalyptic world wracked by severe earthquakes, and a subset of humans who have developed special sensory mechanisms that can not only detect earthquakes but control them. In this world, these humans, known as orogenes, are enslaved, bred, and used to maintain the power of an empire. Essun, the main character, is an escaped orogene, and on a quest to save her surviving daughter from the husband who murdered her son when he discovered her secret. Along the way, she discovers what made the world this way, and must make a decision that could change everything.
Borderline, by Mishell Baker
I love this series so much. Millie, the main character, is a disabled woman with borderline personality disorder. She’s cynical (justifiably so) and has been through some shit. So she’s as surprised as anyone to be recruited into the Arcadia Project, a secret group that manages diplomatic relations with the fairy realm, regulating contact between humans and their fey muses. The other members of the Arcadia Project are equally broken humans, and when things inevitably go wrong, Millie finds herself wrapped up in the worst of it. Loads of fun, and a quick read. Highly recommended.