The Book Superlatives, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a list of all the books I read in 2013. Now I present to you SUPERLATIVES!

(The way every mature young woman analyzes and reviews her reading.)

NOTE: 

Condition for Eligibility: I read it for the first time in 2013. That’s all.

FAVORITE OPENING LINE

1984

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – 1984

I struggled some through 1984 — I struggled through ALL of my ‘Should Have Read in School’ Books this year, honestly — but this is just a great opening line. It sets a certain mood and lets you know right from the get-go that there’s something strange and probably wrong with the world we’re about to immerse ourselves in.

Honorable Mentions: “The circus arrives without warning.” – The Night Circus

FAVORITE FEMALE HEROINE

fairyland1fairyland2

September – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

September is not just my favorite female character this year. She is one of my favorite heroines of all time. She’s brave but not fearless, headstrong but occasionally insecure. She’s intelligent and funny, sometimes Heartless — like all children — but overall kind. In fact, I like her enough that I’ve added September to the list of possible baby names I keep in a file called Someday. (Cause, come on. September St. George? Kind of a ring to that. Also, my friend just had a baby named June. Maybe it’s a sign.)

Honorable Mentions: Sophronia (Etiquette & Espionage); George (Feed); Imp (The Drowning Girl)

WORST PRIORITIES:

rook

Myfanwy Thomas – The Rook

The Rook has a lot of good things going for it: a fun set-up, an awesome opening scene, and a variety of really neat magical powers. It is the kind of book that I would very much like to see turned into a television show . . . but it did occasionally drive me crazy, especially when our heroine — who has kind of a lot going on right now — decides to go clubbing with some long lost relative cause, you know, that’s important.

And maybe you’re thinking, hey, family’s important too, Carlie. And it surely is, but let me just be clear: someone is currently trying to kill Myfanwy, and she has no idea who because she has total amnesia and can’t let anyone know, and all that is especially unfortunate because she works at some super secret magic government agency and has to fumble through what she’s doing based on a ton of notes and luck. Oh, and the apocalypse could basically be heading their way.

But, you know. Clubbing’s a priority, too.

BEST EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR TURNING A STORY ON ITS HEAD

last final girl

The Last Final Girl – Stephen Graham Jones

This is one of the most unique takes on slasher films that I’ve ever seen, written by a man who has seen an awful lot of slashers. The whole book is written in what is basically a long series of stage directions, and while I struggled a bit with the ending, it was overall a very enjoyable, witty, and intelligent deconstruction of horror.

BOOK I WOULD MOST LIKE TO SEE TURNED INTO A MOVIE

night circus

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

This was hard because I could imagine great film adaptations being made out of a lot of books I read this year. I came very close to picking Etiquette & Espionage because I am beyond ready for a no holds barred steampunk film — not to mention the costumes would be so AWESOME.

However, I ultimately decided to go with The Night Circus for two reasons. One, it could be a beautiful movie full of wonder and exquisite visuals, and two, I think a film could actually improve on the one aspect of the novel I felt was lacking: the actual romance. The novel is basically a romance of epic proportions, but I never really felt the passion between Celia and Marco — in fact, their whole characterization felt a bit distant to me. But if two talented actors with great chemistry were cast, I’m pretty sure that problem would resolve itself.

Honorable Mentions: Etiquette & Espionage; The Last Policeman; Countdown City; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; Feed; Whose Body?

BEST CHRISTMAS STORY

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NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

Okay, so I didn’t read any other Christmas stories this year. To hell with it. This is clearly the best one. You go ahead and watch your classics. I’m going to curl up and read about creepy Christmas wonderlands and road vampires, thanks.

MOST CHALLENGING READ

drowning girl

The Drowning Girl – Caitlin R. Kiernan

When people talk about unreliable narrators, they usually mean narrators who are deliberately holding back information — like, for instance, how they totally killed that one dude back in Chapter Uno. Imp, however, is a different kind of unreliable narrator — she has schizophrenia and cannot always trust her own memory of events.

The Drowning Girl is a fascinating read and I’d definitely recommend it, but it’s hardly an easy read. I struggled through it, particularly whenever Imp would start talking about something that happened to her and then abruptly break off to talk about something else. All the strange back and forth and parallel chronologies make absolute sense for the narrator, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t occasionally frustrating, too.

Honorable Mentions: The Name of the Rose

SUPER ABILITY I WOULD MOST LIKE TO STEAL:

libriomancer

Libriomancy – Libriomancer

Issac Vainio is a libriomancer, which means he can pull fictional items out of any book he’s reading and make it a real thing. So say a guy keeps harassing you on the bus? Just grab a copy of Game of Thrones out of your purse and pull Needle from it. (Needle’s a sword.) The guy will probably get the message. Admittedly, there might be a few cops who take issue with you drawing a sword on public transit, but you know. You’ve got a lot of reading material to help with that.

There are, of course, rules and logistics in Libriomancer, limits on your power, side effects from using too much magic, etc . . . but I can’t seem to care about any of that. I just keep looking around my living room and realizing that, if I had such powers, it would totally become an armory.

Honorable Mentions: Finding Things – NOS4A2, Control Other People’s Bodies by Touching Them – The Rook

BOOK I WISH I COULD FALL INTO (FOR AT LEAST A DAY):

night circus

Because I desperately want to attend this circus. Actually, I read two circus books this year, and I’d jump at the chance to visit either . . . but I feel like I might be slightly safer at this one. Also, some of the descriptions of the magical tents in The Night Circus just totally won me over, like the Ice Garden, the Cloud Maze, the Labyrinth, etc. I would pay a ridiculous amount of money to see any of these wonders.

Hand me a red scarf, people. I am certainly a Reveur.

Honorable Mentions: Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

FAVORITE ‘YOU SHOULD HAVE READ THIS IN SCHOOL’ BOOK

1984

1984 – George Orwell

This was a difficult choice for me — like I said before, while I enjoyed aspects of all the ‘school’ books I read this year, I found myself frustrated with all of them at one point or another. I read somewhere that this novel was more interested in evoking a mood than telling an actual story, and at points that certainly seemed the case to me, and it kind of drove me crazy.

But the book does do a great job creating this really tense, paranoid atmosphere, and I did ultimately find myself engaged in what was going on. The ending is incredibly powerful, if not entirely an upper. And I must have written down a dozen lines I liked while reading the novel. I know I read 1984 more recently than the other books, but I feel like it’ll stick with me more in the long run.

FASTEST READ

the yard

The Yard – Alex Grecian

(Technically, I think The Ocean at the End of the Lane was my fastest read, but picking it seemed like cheating, since it’s under 200 pages and I didn’t have anything else to do that day before going to the Neil Gaiman reading.)

The Yard is a mystery that takes place shortly after Jack the Ripper disappeared, and I’ll admit, it’s not without its problems. I am not at all an expert on the late 1800’s in England, and even I had some doubts on language and anachronisms in the novel. That being said, I enjoyed having multiple protagonists from the police force, the way you often have in a TV shows but rarely seem to have in books. And I did read the greater majority of The Yard on literally no sleep, when I usually can’t focus on crap. So that’s kind of impressive. If there is more in this series — and I expect there will be — I’d probably give them a try.

Honorable Mentions: The Last Policeman; Countdown City; Etiquette & Espionage; The Big Sleep

FAVORITE MYSTERY

last policeman

The Last Policeman – Ben H. Winters

Easily one of my favorite books of the year. The Last Policeman is about a rookie detective trying to solve a murder that everyone else thinks is a suicide. There’s been quite the rash of suicides, you see, as an asteroid is scheduled to hit the Earth and destroy all life in six months.

I’ll admit, I don’t know if the mystery itself is super hard to figure out. (Or anyway, I easily picked out the bad guy, if not his/her motivation.) But I thought this was a fantastic novel — it is very much a story about the inevitability and fear of death, which is obviously a universal fear, but also happens to be something that I am, in particular, drawn to in fiction. Also, Henry Palace is a great, original narrator — this is very much apocalyptic noir, but Henry isn’t a typical noir hero at all. He’s a by-the-book kind of guy. He likes order. He says ‘gosh’ non-ironically. And yet, he’s not annoying. You have to admit, that’s not the easiest thing to do.

Honorable Mentions: Countdown City; Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead; Whose Body?

FAVORITE SEQUEL

countdown city

Countdown City – Ben H. Winters

This was close — I had a lot of fun reading Red Seas Under Red Skies, too, and my plan to not read its followup, Republic of Thieves, until it makes it to paperback seems worse and worse every day. But I did have a couple quibbles with the first half of Red Seas, and so I have to give it to Countdown City, which advanced the storyline from The Last Policeman in some really awesome ways. The feeling of apocalypse has intensified by half, and I am eagerly awaiting the third and final book in this trilogy. (Although I suspect I might need to follow it up with some feel-good movies and a shitload of cupcakes or something. Cause, yeah. Kind of anticipating a downer ending.)

Honorable Mentions: Red Seas Under Red Skies

FAVORITE YA/MIDDLE GRADE

fairyland1

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente

This book. Oh, this book. I’ve already talked about how much I like September, but I haven’t talked at all about how much I love the writing. And man, I do love it — there are dozens of sentences I could eat; they’re so damn good. If I ever have kids someday, this is definitely a book I plan to read to them at night.

Honorable Mentions: Doll Bones; Etiquette & Espionage

FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL

court owls

Batman: Vol. 1: The Court of Owls – Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (illustrator)

Man, I loved this Batman comic. And really, I still do . . . it’s just that I recently read the follow-up to it, and I was, ah, not very happy with it. At all. Still, between this and Batman: The Black Mirror, I’m definitely interested in checking out more of Scott Snyder’s work.

Honorable Mentions: Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 -4 – Bryan Lee O’Malley

FAVORITE NON-FICTION

gulp

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal – Mary Roach

I have said multiple times on this blog that I don’t like science, and that’s not really true — but it is true that I have no particular aptitude for it, which basically means that I need a good teacher if you want me to learn and/or pay attention. And Mary Roach is the best teacher. She is a hilariously funny writer, and I have followed her work religiously since first falling in love with Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Only Mary Roach could have me reading a book about the human digestive system, and actually enjoying it, too.

Honorable Mention: Police Procedures & Investigations – Lee Lofland

LEAST FAVORITE BOOK

raylan

Raylan – Elmore Leonard

So as many of you know — and are probably tired of hearing — Justified is one of my favorite TV shows, like, ever. Justified was based on an Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole,” and after a couple of seasons, the late author decided to write a full-length novel about Raylan Givens. I decided to hold off on reading it for a while because I heard there would be some overlap between the book and show, and I didn’t want to spoil myself for the series. I also knew going in that there would be some differences, and I was okay with that, or thought I was.

What I couldn’t predict was that nearly everything would feel different, especially one of my very favorite characters, Boyd. Oh, Boyd. In the TV show, Boyd is brilliant. Walton Goggins does such an amazing job with him — he is so cunning and erudite and hilarious — but in the book, he’s just some bumbling asshole, and I couldn’t deal with that at all. Not to mention the book is comprised of a few loosely connected cases that overall created a very weakly tied together plot and just didn’t do much for me. I’ve liked Elmore Leonard’s work before and I plan to read more of it, but this just wasn’t the story for me.

Honorable Mentions: Deadline; After the Golden Age; Empire State

FAVORITE BOOK:

fairyland1

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente

Because — for reasons already stated, and maybe a few more to come in the Spoiler Section — I loved it best of all. It is simply fantastic.

Honorable Mention: The Last Policeman

FAVORITE SHORT STORY/NOVELETTE:

Always, They Whisper” – Damien Angelica Walters (as Damien Walters Grintallis)

You guys, you have no idea how hard this was for me. There are more superlatives to come in the Spoiler Section below, but I actually had to skip this one and come back to it several times because I just couldn’t make up my mind.

In the end, I decided to go with “Always, They Whisper” because I grew up listening to Greek mythology, and I feel like what Walters did with the Medusa myth is absolutely brilliant. I don’t want to talk too much about it in case you decide to read it for yourself, but it’s a very lovely story with a perfect undercurrent of rage, and I like it more each and every time I read it.

Honorable Mentions:

“Sincerely, Your Psychic” – Helena Bell (Shimmer, Issue 17)
Feminine Endings” – Neil Gaiman
All My Princes Are Gone” – Jennifer Giesbrecht
You Have to Follow the Rules” – Ada Hoffman
In the Greenwood” – Mari Ness
Labyrinth” – Mari Ness
If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” – Rachel Swirsky
“Blessed” – Helen Marshall (Hair Side, Flesh Side)
“Dead White Men” – Helen Marshall (Hair Side, Flesh Side)
Selkie Stories Are for Losers” – Sofia Samatar
“Cleansed and Set in Gold” – Matthew Sturges (Masked)
Terrain” – Genevieve Valentine
Glass Boxes and Clockwork Gods” – Damien Angelica Walters (as Damien Walters Grintallis)
“Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” – Damien Angelica Walters (Shock Totem #7)
“How Bunny Came to be” – A.C. Wise (ShimmerIssue 17)

And now we come to Spoilers. Be warned.

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

Now, I’m serious about those spoilers. We’re going to start off pretty light, but I will be discussing a few big, BIG twists in this section. If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest skipping on to the next award.

CHIEF ASSHAT:

othello

Othello

Honestly, I don’t even know why I put this in the spoilers. Everyone knows what happens in Othello, right? Exactly, Othello’s a murderous asshat. Oh sure, Iago tricks him into thinking his wife is unfaithful and encourages the man to strangle Desdemona in their bed and all, but . . . you know, he didn’t actually have to do it. Besides, when Iago first tells Othello, “Dude, I could be wrong, but I think your woman might be cheating on you,” O’s like, “Oh, ha ha ha! Jealousy cannot get to me!” And maybe five minutes later he comes back into scene, all, “That whore! My brain is on FIRE!”

To top it off, Othello decides not to kill Iago once he figures out what’s happened because living’s the harder punishment, or some bullshit. I just . . . look, you asshat. Death might be easier when you’re tormented with guilt, but do we really think Iago is wracked with remorse right now? No, we don’t because he’s obviously not. Othello, you’re a loser.

Honorable Mentions: Prospero (The Night Circus), Jack (Lord of the Flies), Ralph (Lord of the Flies)

BOOK THAT SORELY TESTED MY FEMINISM

othello

Othello – William Shakespeare

So back to Othello strangling Desdemona . . . well, she doesn’t die right away. First, Iago’s wife, Emilia, comes by, and Desdemona weakly cries out something like, “Oh, I’ve been murdered!” And Emilia’s like, “Holy shit, Othello’s a murderer!” and Desdemona’s like, “Wait, I’ve changed my mind! I killed myself! Yes, it was me. I alone am responsible!” And then she dies.

Of course no one really believes that lie very long cause it’s kind of impossible to strangle yourself with your bare hands, not to mention Othello’s all, “Don’t listen to that silly dead woman. I killed Desdemona, and I did a good job doing it too!” But honestly . . . Desdemona is already an innocent victim in all this. She actually loved her husband so much that she lied to protect him after he murdered her? Please.

Oh, and about Emilia — she actually has some good lines earlier in the play about double standards and stuff that I enjoyed. So, she’s not too bad. Of course, she gets murdered too.

BEST DEATH

feed

George – Feed

I kind of figured George or Shaun was going to go by the end of the story, and I even thought it might be George, despite the fact that Shaun is more reckless — and, you know, not actively narrating the book. But I figured if George died, it wouldn’t be until the very end of the novel — I didn’t at all anticipate her dying a hundred pages or whatever before the book ended.

And it’s not just that George’s death took me by surprise — although that’s always nice — it’s that the scene itself is terrific. George uses her last moments to get the truth out there until the virus starts taking hold. Then she’s forced to incoherently beg her brother to kill her until he finally, abruptly does. It’s hugely moving and one of the strongest parts in the whole book.

Honorable Mentions: Baby (Midnight Riot); Idiot Burned to Death by Dragon (The Rook)

MOST DISAPPOINTING BOOK

deadline

Deadline – Mira Grant

Unfortunately, the sequel to Feed was not only my most disappointing book of the year; it was also the Worst Sequel and featured the Worst Retcon. Retcons, really. The novel itself is easy enough to read, and there are a few actions sequences in there that I was totally into. However, there are also two big reveals that I absolutely hated, mostly because I felt they cheapened or completely reversed things I loved about the first novel.

Maybe I could get over the existence of the George clone(s?) eventually. I did call it from about the first hundred pages of the book, so at least I get to feel smart — if annoyed because, honestly, it kind of takes away from the very thing I just got through praising. (Enough that I almost didn’t pick the scene for Best Death.) But there’s no way I will ever, EVER like that George and Shaun had a sexual relationship. One of my favorite things about Feed was that it featured an awesome sibling relationship — it’s seems so rare to find good sibling relationships in fiction that aren’t all consumed with rivalry and pettiness. To turn their connection incestuous in the second book — and yes, I’m well aware they aren’t blood-related — really, really bothered me. Plus, while I’m not totally averse to the idea of a story headlined by incestuous heroes, I do think I need that shit brought up early. You know, it should be something you’re clearly building to from the start, not a twist or a surprise.

I still plan to read the final book in the trilogy — I do want to know how it all turns out — but I have to say my excitement to do so has seriously waned.

Honorable Mentions: Raylan, Empire State

WORST PLOT CONTRIVANCE

gun machine

Gun Machine – Warren Ellis

Actually, I enjoyed this book quite a bit for the most part. It’s a quick read, enjoyable, with a neat premise and some fun, offbeat characters . . . but I simply can’t get past the point where our protagonist, Tallow, finds the clue to unravelling this whole mystery . . . because he bumps into her at a sandwich shop. No. I’ll take some conveniences in a story, but you don’t get to discover an important bad guy simply because his wife happens to be buying her BLT at the same place you are. Can’t. Deal.

BEST VILLAIN

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The Marquess – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I know. You get it — I really liked this book. Spotlight something else, why don’t ya? But I couldn’t help but pick the Marquess here because the whole idea of her is just so perfect. You know how villains are always going on about how the hero is just like them? Well in this case it’s actually kind of true, and it’s amazing. And it’s great, too, because this story gives you something you rarely get to see: the consequences of having adventures and growing up in a faerie world, when you’ll always be forced back into the mortal one eventually as a powerless child. The Marquess is a wonderful example of a sympathetic villain, maybe one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

Honorable Mentions: Charles Talent Manx (NOS4A2)

BEST ROMANCE:

libriomancer

Issac/Lena/Dr. Shah (Libriomancer)

Romance isn’t something I generally read for — I tend to skip all that bedroom stuff and move straight to the magic and gore  — but the unique relationship between these three characters in Libriomancer is one of the biggest reasons I want to read Codex Born, the sequel to this novel. This is easily the most interesting resolution of a love triangle I’ve ever read, and it completely makes sense for all the characters involved. I’m deeply excited to find different types of triangles that move past ‘girl has to choose between two (usually asshole-ish) boys’.

If this kind of thing continues, maybe I’ll even start seeking out romances. (Okay. Probably not.)

FAVORITE SHORT STORY QUOTE:

“You just can’t be dead enough for some people. They want to burn your footprints right off the earth.”
– Genevieve Valentine, “Terrain”

I heart Genevieve Valentine’s writing something fierce, and there’s something about this quote in particular that has stuck with me all year. I want to steal it and keep it close, or else just pretend that I wrote it. (Shut up! It’s not too late for that!)

Honorable Mentions:

“And she loved her mother enough to bear the pain, she really did, enough to not ask why or how long she would suffer, for how long she must bear the weight of her love.”
– Helen Marshall, “Blessed”

“In London they eat their dead.”
Helen Marshall, “No Ghosts in London”

“All my daughters were born with teeth.”
-Jennifer Giesbrecht, “All My Princes Are Gone”

“Of course, Mommy’s noticing powers weren’t very good. She’d said and said that the convention would have Star Wars, fairies, space captains, even a room the color of deep space where projected stars whooshed past, where Annalee could lie on her tummy and pretend to zoom through hyperspace. She’d said and said that Annalee could make friends, as if that was more exciting than a space-room.”
– Ada Hoffman, “You Have to Follow the Rules”

“A man who can’t lie is sometimes a good sign.”
– Genevieve Valentine, “Terrain”

“I’d feel like a coward if I ran.”
“Then feel like a coward,” she said, “and live.”
– Genevieve Valentine,  “Terrain”

“It’s strange, the things that happen. I had a husband I didn’t love. I’ll be his widow the rest of my life.”
– Genevieve Valentine, “Terrain”

“She does not know she is adopted, nor do her parents ever intend to reveal the information to her. For the first six months of her life her parents discussed the numerous scenarios in which it would be morally or medically imperative to inform their daughter of her origin. At first they felt they would tell her when she was old enough. Then they decided to tell her only if she were struck with a serious genetic disease. They role-played the conversation alternating which parent played Annabelle and which parent played the One Who Reveals We Have Lied to You Since the Day You Were Born. None of the conversations ended well and they chose the path of least resistance. In this, her parents are very much like you.”
– Helena Bell, “Sincerely, Your Psychic”

“I hate selkie stories. They’re always about how you went up to the attic to look for a book, and you found a disgusting old coat and brought it downstairs between finger and thumb and said “What’s this?”, and you never saw your mom again.”
– Sofia Samatar, “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”

“I won’t even tell her what she needs to know: that we’ve got to be tougher than our moms, that we’ve got to have different stories, that she’d better not change her mind and drop me in Colorado because I won’t understand, I’ll hate her forever and burn her stuff and stay up all night screaming at the woods, because it’s stupid not to be able to breathe, who ever heard of somebody breathing in one place but not another, and we’re not like that, Mona and me, and selkie stories are only for losers stuck on the wrong side of magic—people who drop things, who tell all, who leave keys around, who let go.”
– Sofia Samatar, “Selkie Stories Are For Losers”

“I want to be perfect. When I am perfect, I will be allowed to leave.”
– Damien Angelica Walters “Glass Boxes and Clockwork Gods”

FAVORITE NOVEL QUOTE:

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“I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about their Heart’s Desire — well, that’s a load of rot. Hearts are idiots. They’re big and squishy and full of daft dreams. They flounce off to write poetry and moon at folk who aren’t worth the mooning. Bones are the ones that have to make the journey, fight the monster, kneel before whoever is big on kneeling these days. Bones do the work for the heart’s grand plans. Bones know what you need.” – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led the Revels There

Because it’s kind of like Catherynne M. Valente wrote this quote just for me.

Honorable Mentions:

“One way or another, I guess we’re finishing things tonight.”
“Let’s pick one way, okay? I don’t like another.” – Feed

“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” – The Night Circus

“Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”  – The Night Circus

“Trespassers will be exsanguinated.” – The Night Circus

‘Conflict resolution,’ said Nightingale. ‘Is this what they teach at Hendon these days?”
‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘But don’t worry, they also teach us how to beat people with phone books and the ten best ways to plant evidence.’ – Midnight Riot

“My brain kept trying to slide away from the idea that someone had thrown a baby from a second-story window. Tried to convince me that what I was seeing was a scrap of cloth, or a doll, but it wasn’t.” – Midnight Riot

“Time and I have quarrelled. All hours are midnight now. I had a clock and a watch, but I destroyed them both. I could not bear the way they mocked me.” – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

“Mr. Robinson was a polished sort of person. He was so clean and healthy and pleased about everything that he positively shone – which is only to be expected in a fairy or an angel, but is somewhat disconcerting in an attorney.” – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

“Houses, like people, are apt to become rather eccentric if left too much on their own; this house was the architectural equivalent of an old gentleman in a worn dressing-gown and torn slippers, who got up and went to bed at odd times of day, and who kept up a continual conversation with friends no one else could see.” – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

“Mr. Norrell (who knew there were such things as jokes in the world or people would not write about them in books, but who had never actually been introduced to a joke or shaken its hand) considered a while before replying at last that no, he did not think they could quite claim that.” – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.” – The Big Sleep

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” – The Big Sleep

“I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn’t a game for knights.” – The Big Sleep

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on the top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.” – The Big Sleep

“One of the twin coaches, just walking. But with purpose. With Terminator intent.” – The Last Final Girl

“This should be a pleasant little interview. All I have to do is put on my scary face.”
“You have a scary face?” Ingrid sounded skeptical.
“Yes,” said Myfanwy indignantly. “I have a very scary face.”
Ingrid surveyed her for a moment. “You may wish to take off the cardigan then, Rook Thomas,” she advised tactfully. “The flowers on the pocket detract somewhat from your menace.” – The Rook

“Mew,” the kitten retorted, locking gazes with him. It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. ‘I was comfortable, and you dared to move,’ those jade eyes said. ‘For that you must die.’ When it became apparent to the cat that its two or three pounds of mass were insufficient to break Locke’s neck with one mighty snap, it put its paws on his shoulders and began sharing its drool-covered nose with his lips. – Red Seas Under Red Skies

“Know something? I’d lay even odds that between the people following us and the people hunting us, we’ve become this city’s principle means of employment. Tal Verrar’s entire economy is now based on fucking with us.” – Red Seas Under Red Skies

“You are beyond mad,” said Locke after several moments of silent, furious thought. “Full-on barking madness is a state of rational bliss to which you may not aspire. Men living in gutters and drinking their own piss would shun your company. You are a prancing lunatic.” – Red Seas Under Red Skies

“All children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one.” – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“That’s what happens to friends, eventually. They leave you. It’s practically what they’re for.” – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“You can’t ignore orange things.” The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“Who are you?”
“I am Death,” said the creature. “I thought that was obvious.”
“But you’re so small!”
“Only because you are small. You are young and far from your Death, September, so I seem as anything would seem if you saw it from a long way off-very small, very harmless. But I am always closer than I appear. As you grow, I shall grow with you, until at the end, I shall loom huge and dark over your bed, and you will shut your eyes so as not to see me.” The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“As all mothers know, children travel faster than kisses.” – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“Hats change everything. September knew this with all her being, deep in the place where she knew her own name, and that her mother would still love her even though she hadn’t waved goodbye. For one day her father had put on a hat with golden things on it and suddenly he hadn’t been her father anymore, he had been a soldier, and he had left. Hats have power. Hats can change you into someone else.” – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“We all just keep moving, September. We keep moving until we stop.” – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“Fairyland is a very Scientifick place. We subscribe to all the best journals.” – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“Is it good? It ain’t Shakespeare, but then, Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus, so you tell me.” – Redshirts

“But define completely ridiculous shit,” Duvall said. “Does space travel count? Contact with alien races? Does quantum physics count? Because I don’t understand that crap at all. As far as I’m concerned, quantum physics could have been written by a hack.” – Redshirts

“I thought I saw him once, but it turned out to be a yeti.” – Redshirts

“Is it a shark made of ice?” Hanoen asked. “Or a shark that lives in ice?” – Redshirts

“. . . so one day my mother sat me down and explained that I couldn’t become an explorer because everything in the world had already been discovered. I’d been born in the wrong century, and I felt cheated.” – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“I did love her, of course, but mostly because loving your mom is mandatory, not because she was someone I think I’d like very much if I met her walking down the street.” – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“We hadn’t spoken since the day he nearly shoved me off the roof, but we both understood the importance of maintaining the illusion of having friends.” – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“He books it into that little playground there. I mean the guy is zooming like the Road Runner, skidding through the gravel and the slush and everything. I’m yelling, “Police, police! Stop, motherfucker!”
“You do not yell, “Stop, motherfucker.”’
“I do. 
Because you know, Palace, this is it. This is the last chance I get to run after a perp yelling, “Stop, motherfucker.” – The Last Policeman

“Evil turned out not to be a grand thing. Not sneering Emperors with world-conquering designs. Not cackling demons plotting in the darkness beyond the world. It was small men with their small acts and their small reasons. It was selfishness and carelessness and waste. It was violence divorced from conscience or consequence. It was high ideals, even, and low methods.” – Red Country

“Severed heads never go out of fashion. Used sparingly, and with artistic sensibility, they can make a point a great deal more eloquently than those still attached.” – Red Country

“He was as tall as Lincoln and just as dead.” – NOS4A2

“The last man she’d dated said something to her, shortly before they broke up. “I don’t know, maybe I’m boring, but I never really feel like you’re there when we’re out to dinner. You live in your head. I can’t. No room for me in there. I don’t know, maybe you’d be more interested in me if I were a book.”
She hated him at the time, and hated herself a little, but later, looking back, Hutter had decided that even if that particular boyfriend had been a book, he would’ve been one from the Business & Finance aisle, and she would’ve passed him by and looked for something in SF and Fantasy.” – NOS4A2

“Well. That’s helpful. We’ll put an ABP out on the Gingerbread Man. I’m not hopeful it’ll do us much good, though. Word on the street is you can’t catch him.” –NOS4A2

“Adults should not weep, I knew. They did not have mothers who would comfort them.” – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“I am not an angel,” I asserted, “and I will not be one till I die. I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me — for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it out of you, which I do not at all anticipate.” – Jane Eyre

“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to Hell,” was my ready and orthodox reply.
“And what is Hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there forever?”
“No, sir.”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable. “I must keep in good health and not die.” – Jane Eyre

“Cats never listen. They’re dependable that way. When Rome burned, the emperor’s cats still expected to be fed on time.” – Rosemary and Rue

“Respectfully, sir, the asteroid did not make you leave her. The asteroid is not making anyone do anything. It’s just a big piece of rock floating through space. Anything anyone does remains their own decision.” – Countdown City

“Ghosts are those memories that are too strong to be forgotten for good, echoing across the years and refusing to be obliterated by time.” – The Drowning Girl

“I do not giggle without purpose. Lady Linette says you must never misapply a giggle.” – Etiquette & Espionage

“He had reads lots of stories where heroes succeeded in spite of long odds, where they accomplished a task that everyone else had failed at. He wondered for the first time about all the people who’d gone before those hero, about whether they’d been at each other’s throats, before everything else had gone wrong. He wondered if there was a point where they realized they weren’t going to make it, weren’t going to beat those long odds — that in the legend that would follow, they were going to be the nameless people who failed.” – Doll Bones

“If they were real, then maybe the world was big enough to have magic in it. And if there was magic — even bad magic, and Zach knew it was more likely that there was bad magic than any good kid — then maybe not everyone had to have a story like his father’s, a story like the kind all the adults he knew told, one about giving up and growing bitter.” – Doll Bones

“Now that he recognized himself as a dead man, it became important to stay alive as long as possible. – 1984

“She was very young, he thought, she still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.” – 1984

“He had the sensation of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was not much better because he had always known that the grave was there and waiting for him.” – 1984

“The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you understand me?” 1984

“I don’t want to be a Princess,” she said finally. “You can’t make me be one.” She knew very well what became of Princesses, as Princesses often get books written about them. Either terrible things happened to them, such as kidnappings and curses and pricking fingers and getting poisoned and locked up in towers, or else they just waited around till the Prince finished with the story and got around to marrying her. Either way, September wanted nothing to do with Princessing.” – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland And Led the Revels There

“Mr. Alfred Thipps was a small, nervous man, whose flaxen hair was beginning to abandon the unequal struggle with destiny.” – Whose Body?

“Come, be a man. Drown thyself? Drown cats and blind puppies!” – Othello

“There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing.” – The Name of the Rose

All right, I think that’s it for 2013. Thanks for reading along.

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2 Responses to The Book Superlatives, 2013

  1. Teacups says:

    DEADLINE SPOILERS BELOW

    Bwahahaha. I read Feed, and gradually gave into spoiler temptation for Deadline. I went back and reread what you said about George and Shaun’s sibling relationship being awesome and how it’s so great that there’s no love interest, and was wondering whether you were having a sort of private joke, or whether you hadn’t yet made it to the sequels and were unaware of the irony.

    So this answers that question, then. *snicker*

    I solemnly promise to try out at least most of those short stories you linked to, at some later date when I am less sleep deprived.

    • DEADLINE SPOILERS

      God, it was so frustrating. I felt a little bad about coming down so hard on the series — I’m in awe of how fast Seanan McGuire writes, and the amount of research she must have put into the Newsflesh books alone is ridiculous — but it was just like . . . EVERYTHING I loved about the first book got retconned by the second. I may have had tantrums. Immature, nerdy tantrums.

      END DEADLINE SPOILERS

      I hope you like some of the short stories, when you get around to trying them out. I think there are some really good ones in there.

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