The 2016 Book Superlatives (Length: EPIC)

It is time, my friends. Yesterday, I posted the list of all the books and graphic novels I’ve read in 2016, and today I will review them in my customary way: superlatives! (Clearly, a tormented piece of my soul will always be trapped in high school.)

To be upfront: the greater majority of my Book Superlatives are positive and/or silly because this is meant to be fun, and because I realized how shitty I’d feel if something I wrote ever got singled out as Worst Book Of The Year or something. However, there are some critical superlatives–Most Annoying Romance, for example–because I do look at these awards as (admittedly oddly formatted) reviews, and also because I’ve never not had multiple candidates for that particular category. I do, however, generally try to say positive things about a book even when I’m highlighting something particularly negative, which, honestly isn’t usually all that hard. There are often a number of things I like about even those novels that frustrate me: Most Annoying Romance, for instance, actually went to a book that I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit, even envied if I’m being honest, cause, damn that author can write.

If you are a published novelist who has somehow stumbled onto my little blog and don’t necessarily want to get blindsided by the possibility of seeing something negative about your novel, I totally get that: feel free to check out that link of stuff I read this year and see if any of your work is even on the table before making your decision. For anyone who is interested in reading, welcome! Today’s post will be full of super important awards like Favorite Sidekick, Chief Asshat, Book I Would Most Like To See As A Video Game, and Best Boo-Yah Moment. There will also be a list of my Top 10 Favorite Books of the Year, if that kind of thing interests you, and a list of my many, many favorite book quotes I read this year. God help me.

Shall we begin?

OBLIGATORY MY GEEK BLASPHEMY DISCLAIMER (LITERALLY COPIED AND PASTED FROM LAST YEAR):

1. Any book I read for the first time this year, whether it was written in 2016 or not, is eligible.

2. I’m absolutely NOT one of those people who flips to the last page of the book before I finish it, so if you’re worried about Big Spoilers, fear not. I’ve created my typical Spoiler Section even for my Superlatives. I am going to discuss the books a little, though, so if you don’t want to know anything about any book you haven’t read, well. Sorry.

3. I’m going to post a veritable shitload of favorite novel quotes at the end of this post, like, it will be absurdly long. I post these because I love quotes and because I think they’re a great way to draw readers in, but if you happen to be an author of one of these quotes and do not wish it to be posted, please let me know and I will delete it immediately.

Now. Let’s begin. For real this time.

BEST EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR TURNING A STORY ON ITS HEAD

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TIE!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness; Every Heart A Doorway – Seanan McGuire

I have never met Patrick Ness. This man has no idea who I am, and yet I’m still halfway convinced that he wrote The Rest of Us Just Live Here just for me. A YA book about all the kids in high school who aren’t the Chosen Ones trying to save the world, just the kids trying to survive it? The premise alone is fantastic, but what really makes this book special is the focus on all the characters and their relationships with one another. This book is an emotional H/C smorgasbord that also happened to make me laugh out loud multiple times, and I loved it.

But Every Heart a Doorway was pretty great too, easily my favorite thing I’ve ever read by Seanan McGuire. While I wish it was a bit longer, I was enchanted by this dark look at the consequences of portal fantasies. I love the focus on personal identity, on never being anything other than who you are for someone else. I was really happy to see an asexual protagonist. And if all that wasn’t good enough, it’s also a morbidly funny murder mystery. So my kind of book.

Honorable Mentions: The Girl From the Well; The Girls at the Kingfisher Club; Romeo and/Or Juliet: A Chooseable Path Adventure

BEST BROMANCE

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Mike & Jared – The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Mike and Jared’s friendship is a huge contributing factor to how much I enjoy this novel. They have so many great little moments (anytime Jared catches Mike in an OCD loop and helps him out of it particularly gets me right in the Feels), and while I like the relationships between all of the characters in this book, Mike and Jared’s friendship is a particular highlight.

Honorable Mention: Finn & Miguel (Bone Gap)

BEST LADYMANCE

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Nina & Inej – Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom

Huh. I don’t think this has ever happened to me before, but I actually have more contenders for Best Ladymance than Best Bromance. (To be fair, such a thing is more likely in books than in TV and movies, considering I’m much more likely to pick up a book with a female protagonist than I am to find a show or movie with a female lead.)

Anyway. This duology has a lot going for it, but because I’m such a character-oriented writer and reader, it’s the little relationship moments that make me love these books, not just the witty banter or the elaborate heists. (Though, obviously, I love those too.) I particularly adored Nina and Inej’s friendship, especially since they’re the only girls in Kaz’s crew and there’s none of the typical bullshit about them competing for the same guy or anything like that. They are some badass young women, and I love their scenes together. I especially love that they get to have girl talk and kick all kinds of ass, because it defies that frustrating notion that ladies can only be Girly Delicate Flowers or Strong Angry Women.

Honorable Mentions: Amy & Frecks (The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School); Rosemary & Kizzy (The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet); Sophronia & Dimity (Manners & Mutiny); Hanalee & Fleur (The Steep and Thorny Way); Alana & Slip (Ascension)

BEST PLATONIC M/F RELATIONSHIP

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Kizzy & Jenks – The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

This book is basically one giant ball of found family dynamics in space (something I’ll discuss a bit more in a later award), but my very favorite relationship of the bunch was probably Kizzy and Jenks, who are such good friends that they’re pretty much siblings. They bring a lot of humor to the novel, and they have a very sweet moment near the end of the book which is just the perfect cap for their story.

Honorable Mentions: Jess & Bells (Not Your Sidekick); Finn & Roza (Bone Gap); Inej & Jesper (Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom)

ULTIMATE DYNAMIC DUO

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Kell & Lila – A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell and Lila on their own are both very fun characters, but together? They’re damn awesome. I enjoyed all their banter and running around, and while I could ship them, I also don’t feel any particular need to, at least not at this stage of the game. They just make a great dynamic duo, and I’m looking forward to reading more of their adventures.

The only problem with these two, as far as I’m concerned, is how often they managed to get separated over the course of the book. (It seemed like a lot. At one point, I’m pretty sure I shouted, “Tie yourselves together with a magic cord or something, you two!”)

Honorable Mentions: Maya & Kamala (The Star-Touched Queen); Cyrah & Gévaudan (The Devourers); Trista & Pen (Cuckoo Song); Trista & Violet (Cuckoo Song); Isobel and Gabriel (Silver on the Road); Hanalee & Joe (The Steep and Thorny Way); Verity & Ziggi (Vigil); Jo & Jake (The Girls at The Kingfisher Club)

FAVORITE SIDEKICK

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Kamala – The Star-Touched Queen

Because there is simply no better sidekick than a talking demon horse that eats flesh. None. That’s just science, damn it.

Honorable Mentions: Pen (Cuckoo Song); SmallvilleGuy (Fallout); Joe (The Steep and Thorny Way); Lucy (Heroine Complex)

MOST OVERUSED WORD, SENTENCE, OR PUNCTUATION MARK

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“Madness” – Silver on the Road

Silver on the Road is a neat fantasy-western novel with interesting characters and just this completely fantastic, original world, but one of my own personal pet peeves in writing is overuse of repetition, and the magician is described as “mad” or suffering from “madness” far too often for my tastes. It probably frustrated me especially because I never quite bought it: the character’s overall demeanor could be described as manic, but his actual actions never struck me as specifically delusional or otherwise insane, and if a character is going to be described as such so frequently in a story, I personally needed to see him do something that really sold it.

Honorable Mention: “Creepy” – Every Heart a Doorway; “Hipster” – Half-Resurrection Blues; “Chicken” – Manners & Mutiny; “Nova Quick” or “Alana Quick” (in dialogue) – Ascension

BEST COVER

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Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Córdova

We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but dude. Sometimes cover art is beautiful and deserves to be appreciated. This is one of those times.

I had some problems with this book, but the magic system and mythology were definitely not among them. I love the world Zoraida Córdova builds here, and Los Lagos (a Neverland-esque place) would be amazing to visit for a day. You know. Provided you had some kind of serious magic protection spell or something. In fact, it came very close to winning for that particular superlative.

BOOK I WISH I COULD FALL INTO FOR AT LEAST ONE DAY

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The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi

While I’d willingly visit any number of worlds I read about this year, nothing could quite beat out this book. Between the Night Bazaar and Akaran . . . just . . . I haven’t wanted to fall into a novel this badly since I read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Roshani Chokshi’s prose is lush and lovely and lets this wondrous world come alive. It’s also chockfull of Hindu mythology, which was a huge bonus to a mythology junkie like me.

Honorable Mentions: Labyrinth Lost; The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet; Bone Gap; Every Heart A Doorway; A Darker Shade of Magic; Vigil

BOOK I WOULD MOST LIKE TO SEE AS A TV SHOW

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TIE!

The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers; The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

I’ve never read a book that was more perfectly suited for a TV adaptation than The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. The space opera doesn’t have so much of an ongoing plot as it has a series of episodes about the crew of the Wayfarer, and it’s full of found family feels and cultural . . . er . . . are we calling it xenopology? Whatever, it’s awesome, and I would be the happiest little nerd ever if Syfy picked it up because seriously. It’s just meant to be a TV show.

At the same time, I literally don’t know if I can think of a TV show I’d sign up for faster than one about all the other kids at Sunnydale High, the ones who aren’t special or even BFFs with the Slayer, the ones who are just trying to get through class and and survive the Hellmouth. (I should probably make it clear: this isn’t actually BTVS fanfiction. But you know what I mean, right?) I would watch the hell out of such a show. CW, make it happen.

Honorable Mentions: Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom; Silver on the Road; Every Heart A Doorway; The Conclave of Shadows; Borderline; A Darker Shade of Magic; Half-Resurrection Blues; The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School; Manners & Mutiny; Fallout; Ascension; Not Your Sidekick; The Witch of Lime Street; Red Harvest; Vigil

BOOK I WOULD MOST LIKE TO SEE AS A MOVIE

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The Girl From The Well – Rin Chupeco

This book is actually the beginning of a duology (I accidentally picked up its sequel, The Suffering, last year) and I would happily take an adaptation of both novels as a TV series . . . but as a standalone book, I think The Girl From the Well would make a fantastic movie. It’d be a little like watching The Ring from Samara’s POV. (Yes, I’ve only watched the American version, failure that I am. I will get to Ringu eventually, I promise.) Seriously, a Japanese vengeance ghost as a movie protagonist? I mean, I am THERE. Plus, there’s so much fantastic creepy imagery in this one, like, I’d pay full ticket prices just to see one specific scene. (All I’ll tell you without spoilers is that it’s set in a mental institution and dolls are involved.)

Honorable Mentions: Half-Resurrection Blues; The Star-Touched Queen; A Darker Shade of Magic; Cuckoo Song; Bone Gap; The Girls at the Kingfisher Club; An Inheritance of Ashes; The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet; The Steep and Thorny Way; Heroine Complex; Labyrinth Lost; Red Harvest; The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

BOOK I WOULD MOST LIKE TO SEE AS A VIDEO GAME

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Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable Path Adventure – Ryan North

This book was probably about 100 pages longer than I thought it needed to be; it was also one of the funniest things I’ve read all year. You get to play as either Romeo or Juliet, and your story can go about a bazillion different ways. Sometimes, you end up married to different characters. Other times, there are robots. And occasionally there’s mass murder. Think of the possibilities!

Since I’m all about video games where your choices make an impact on the story, I think this book would be a whole lot of fun to actually play. After all, who wouldn’t want to get the chance to be Juliet? You could see Romeo crawling around your backyard, call him out for being a creeper, never ever date him, and see where life takes you!

I, at least, would buy such a game.

FASTEST READ

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A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s something about V.E. Schwab’s writing that is just damn addictive. It was REALLY hard to put A Darker Shade of Magic down, which was unfortunate because I picked it up at a bad time when I was busy and had to keep putting it down.

The agony, you guys. It was a whole ‘best of times, worst of times’ situation.

Honorable Mentions: Crooked Kingdom; A Monster Calls; The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet; The Rest Of Us Just Live Here; Every Heart a Doorway; Fallout; The Girl From The Well; The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time

FAVORITE SEQUEL

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Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

No question here: I loved this book, almost as much as I loved Six of Crows--and I LOVED Six of Crows. More elaborate heists, more great character moments, more FEELS. This book definitely upped the Inej/Kaz ship, which was great for me cause, like, that ship’s my jam. I only had a couple of minor problems: one, I thought there were a few too many villains and not enough time  to accommodate them all properly, and two, there are no more sequels planned. This is it. This is all I get.

I’m very depressed now. Give me a moment to find some waffles and slather a bunch of peanut butter on them, and then I’ll continue on with the superlatives.

Honorable Mentions: Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch; The Conclave of Shadows – Alyc Helms

WAFFLE INTERMISSION
WAFFLE INTERMISSION

WAFFLE INTERMISSION

Okay, I’m sated. Let’s continue.

FAVORITE WTF BOOK

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TIE!

All The Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders; A History of Glitter and Blood – Hannah Moskowitz

It’s not unusual for books to contain a soft melding of science fiction and fantasy, but All the Birds in the Sky doesn’t play it subtle or safe; there are witches and time machines and magic schools and AIs and all sorts of things that don’t normally go together in one book. It’s also probably one of the most optimistic novels about the apocalypse that I can think of, save for possibly Good Omens. AND it’s the most cracked out version of Science versus Magic ever, like, usually that sort of thing is all thematic and shit, but here it’s literal, and I love it. There’s a lot of really neat, weird stuff here, and all of it is anchored by Patricia and Laurence’s complex, evolving relationship.

I figured All The Birds in the Sky had this award in the bag, but then I just recently read A History of Glitter and Blood, too, and that book is also very, VERY deeply weird, not just because there are many passages devoted to fairies being eaten alive (so much macabre humor in this book), but also because the narrative structure of the novel is incredibly messy. Intentionally so, but still. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a messier novel than this; at the same time, it’s really striking how much A History of Glitter and Blood actually says about, like, Big Stuff. It’s definitely a book about fairies and gnomes and murder; it’s also a book about racism and war and identity and all kinds of heavy shit.

FAVORITE MYSTERY

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Borderline – Mishell Baker

Easily my favorite urban fantasy I’ve read in a while, Borderline is a mashup of mystery, Hollywood, and the fey. It also has a striking intersectional protagonist in Millie, a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder. You don’t always like Millie, or at least I didn’t, but you can still find her engaging and sympathetic, which I appreciated immensely. I never felt like I was wasting my time reading her story; on the contrary, this is a fun book with some decent surprises and trope subversions, and I’m eagerly looking forward to its follow-up, which will hopefully come out next year.

Honorable Mentions: Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett; Devil in a Blue Dress – Walter Mosley; Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch

FAVORITE UPDATED OR ORIGINAL FAIRY TALE

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TIE!

Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge; Every Heart A Doorway – Seanan McGuire

Cuckoo Song is just such a dark, original fairy tale that always avoids going to any of the expected places. Basically all of the characters are complex. None of them are just one thing–even one of the primary antagonists of this book feels more three-dimensional and tragic to me than he probably would in someone else’s story. And I cannot stress enough how much awesome creepy imagery there is in this book. SO INTO IT.

Meanwhile, Every Heart A Doorway (which also has some pretty disturbing imagery) wins this one for pretty much the same reasons it won for ‘Best Example of An Author Turning A Story On Its Head’: this novella has such a fascinating spin on fairy tale worlds and tropes, showing that the portal fantasy dream that so many of us nerds had (or have) could come with heartbreaking consequences. (And yet the moral of the story isn’t “grow up, move on, and forget,” the way that so many portal fantasies seem to conclude. This makes me very happy.)

Honorable Mentions: The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi; The Girls At the Kingfisher Club – Genevieve Valentine

FAVORITE NON-FICTION

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The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World – David Jaher

All right, fine, this one’s winning by default since it’s the only non-fiction book I actually read this year, but I still really enjoyed it. While it was occasionally a bit slow at points (I can’t help but feel the book was probably 100 pages longer than it really needed to be), I found the material just fascinating. I’ve been really intrigued by mediums and spiritualism since reading Spook by Mary Roach years ago, and this is a whole book on the subject. The conflict between Harry Houdini, the most infamous debunker of psychics, and Mina Crandon, the most well-known medium of the era, is really interesting, and there’s a surprising amount of tension written into a story that, after all, has something of a foregone conclusion.

Mostly what I took from this book is that it totally wasn’t worth it to pretend to be psychic. I know there was prize money and notoriety involved and all, but good Lord. Men put their hands up in all kinds of places to make sure you weren’t stuffing fake ectoplasm anywhere. If I actually was a psychic? No way I’d be telling anyone. Some things just aren’t worth it.

FAVORITE BOOK

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Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

This book (which also wins for FAVORITE YA/MIDDLE GRADE) just surprised and delighted me more than I think anything else I’ve read this year. Obviously, I’ve known that epic heists and fantasy books are a great combo since reading Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, but I just wasn’t anticipating how much I’d enjoy this one. From the great multi-ethnic cast of characters to the awesome snappy dialogue to the healthy heapings of glorious backstory to the small moments of unrepentant violence . . . I had so much fun reading this book, and I haven’t been that desperate to snatch up a sequel in a long, long while.

Here is the rest of my top ten, which is not in any particular order–because life’s hard enough–and then a few honorable mentions that almost made the Top Ten List. (I went back and forth A LOT. I even considered cheating and putting Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom together as one big book to make more room on the list, before my very silly sense of integrity kicked in.) Also, FAVORITE NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR ended up being a split tie between Leigh Bardugo and Patrick Ness because they both managed to get two books on my Top Ten list, not an easy feat in a year this awesome. (Well, for reading anyway. Obviously, we know 2016 wasn’t exactly great in a lot of other respects.)

2. Cuckoo Song
3. The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
4. Crooked Kingdom
5. Every Heart A Doorway
6. Bone Gap
7. All The Birds In The Sky
8. A Monster Calls
9. A History of Glitter and Blood
10. The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet

Honorable Mentions For Top Ten: Borderline; The Star-Touched Queen; A Darker Shade of Magic

Honorable Mentions for Favorite New-To-Me Author: Frances Hardinge, Mishell Baker, Becky Chambers, Gwenda Bond, Roshani Chokshi, Laura Ruby, Hannah Moskowitz

All right, folks. All the following superlatives contain spoilers (mostly in my descriptions, but sometimes the award itself might tell you stuff you don’t wanna know, like Best Twist), so if you’re continuing onwards, you’re doing so at your own risk

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

Okay, here we go!

FAVORITE FEMALE HEROINE

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TIE!

Trista – Cuckoo Song; Cyrah – The Devourers

I love the journey Trista goes on here, the very literal process of self-discovery. It’s obvious that there’s something wrong with her from the start, but I’ll admit to assuming that she was just possessed by something; I didn’t initially suspect that she actually was a doll (made of sticks and leaves, a kind of changeling) come to life. And I love that this isn’t Pinocchio, that she doesn’t become human or anything boring like that. Trista is a wonderful YA heroine: she’s strong, wonderfully unique, and yes, just a bit on the creepy side. I adore her desperately.

And then there’s Cyrah from The Devourers, and full disclaimer: I’m friends with the author, so feel free to question my objectivity as you will. But Cyrah is an amazing character; she honestly makes the entire book for me. She’s a rape survivor and that’s a pivotal part of her character, but it’s not her entire character, either. To quote my own Goodreads review of this book: “Cyrah is complex and badass and sharp, terrified and brave, furious and evolving. In another’s hands, she could have been a few different stereotypes, minimized to one event or trope, but instead Cyrah is a fully developed character who leaps off the page and, for me, was the best part of the whole novel.”

Honorable Mentions: Roza (Bone Gap); Inej (Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom); Nina (Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom); Okiku (The Girl From the Well); Izzy (Silver on the Road); Nancy (Every Heart a Doorway); Missy (The Conclave of Shadows); Millie (Borderline); Lila (A Darker Shade of Magic); Jo (The Girls at the Kingfisher Club); Hallie (An Inheritance of Ashes); Lois Lane (Fallout); Hanalee (The Steep and Thorny Way); Maya (The Star-Touched Queen); Beckan (A History of Glitter and Blood)

BEST BOO-YAH MOMENT

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Roza slices her own face and gains her freedom – Bone Gap

For most of the novel, Roza has been held captive by a man who’s obsessed with her physical beauty, who thinks of her as something he owns, something he deserves; she’s a prize to him, not a woman. When she gains the upper hand, though, it’s a glorious thing to behold: she tricks him into admitting that her physical beauty is the only reason she or Finn (who has come to rescue her) are in his magical prison; then, to her abductor’s horror, she cuts open half her face. And then we get this passage:

‘Despite the pain and the blood, Roza took in the icy-eyed man’s expression of frozen, stony horror and reveled in it, delighted in it. It was delicious, his horror. She wanted to see it up close.

She wanted to eat it.

She walked toward the stage and stood right in front of him, letting him see the wound, her red and seething insides, the place where her fury pulsed, where her fire lived.”

She said, “Do you love me yet?” ‘

People. It’s just unspeakably badass. Roza is my hero.

Honorable Mentions: Cyrah tells Fenrir she is one woman, not all women (The Devourers); Jo gets the girls out in time (The Girls at the Kingfisher Club); Jo sees her father again (The Girls at the Kingfisher Club); Inej tells off Van Eck (Crooked Kingdom); Inej kills Dunyasha (Crooked Kingdom); Inej threatens to kill Rollins (Crooked Kingdom)

BEST DEATH

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Yoko – The Girl From The Well

Because it’s the eeriest damn scene in the entire book.

I’d planned to reread the scene and go over it in detail here, but I forgot I’d loaned the book out and it’s been several months since I’ve read it myself. I remember this much, though: Yoko tries out a very rash exorcism, and basically everything ends up decapitated. Like, even dolls are decapitated. The whole scene just oozes creepiness, so it’s only fitting that it also wins CREEPIEST MOMENT OR SCENE.

Honorable Mentions For Best Death: Sarco (Half-Resurrection Blues); Mattias (Crooked Kingdom)

Honorable Mentions For Creepiest Scene/Moment: Triss eats a doll (Cuckoo Song); EYELIDS (The Ballad of Black Tom)

JIMMY, NOOOOO!

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TIE!

Sumi (Every Heart A Doorway); Barron (A Darker Shade of Magic)

Both Sumi and Barron are relatively small, supporting characters, but I liked them both immensely and was super sad when they died. Sumi basically had no chance, since her death kickstarted the whole plot, but for a while I was wondering if maybe there would be a chance to rescue her, a trip to the Underworld or some such. Alas, this was not to be, and I was pretty bummed for a while because she was so funny and fascinating right from the start.

Meanwhile, I had actual hope that Barron might make it out of there, but oh no. That fucker Holland had to come around and kill him. Good on Barron for trying to shoot that bastard immediately, though. (An aside: I glanced back at my reading notes for this book, and the very last line I wrote about A Darker Shade of Magic? “Also, BARRON, nooooo.” That pretty much sums up my feelings on that.)

Honorable Mentions: Lovey (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet); Matthias (Crooked Kingdom)

BEST SURPRISE

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Everything ends happily ever after – The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

One might expect a fairy tale retelling to have a happy ending, but I sure as hell didn’t, not with this book. It seemed all too certain to me that at least one of the girls would have to die; there were a number of possibilities on who it could be, although easy money would be on Jo to die in some noble moment of self-sacrifice. I read this novel trying to brace myself for the fact that when you take a fairy tale into the real world, you have to accept the real world consequences and all that jazz . . . only to be utterly relieved when all of the girls escaped their terrible father and survived.

Tragic endings can be beautiful, of course, but sometimes the best endings are the ones that don’t include the tragic death scene that we’ve all come to expect.

Honorable Mentions: Babcia doesn’t die tragically (Bone Gap); Gévaudan doesn’t tragically die in some annoying moment of redemption (The Devourers); Neither Beckan nor Scrap die (A History of Glitter and Blood); Sebastian doesn’t come back to life (Cuckoo Song); Trista doesn’t become human (Cuckoo Song); Kaz has a phobia of skin-on-skin contact (Six of Crows); Nancy returns home to Underworld (Every Heart A Doorway); The professor wasn’t involved, or even in the book (Borderline) Time doesn’t revert/not everything is undone (All the Birds in the Sky)

FAVORITE SHIP

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Kaz/Inej – Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom

I liked a fair amount of romantic relationships this year–I absolutely shipped Beckan and Scrap in A History of Glitter and Blood, and Maya and Amar have a moment in The Star-Touched Queen where I was like, “Man, I’d be okay if someone said something like that to me”–but in the end, nothing could quite beat out the Ulta-Ship of Kaz/Inej.

I just love these two, both on their own and together. I was really interested in Kaz’s vulnerability and trouble with physical contact in Six of Crows, and I like that we see Inej has her own problems with touch and physical proximity, if for entirely different reasons. I like the slow burn of their relationship, their struggle with emotional intimacy, the violence that ensues if one of them has been hurt. The scene in Crooked Kingdom when Kaz is helping Inej with her bandages, just, guh, LOVED IT. And I really like the very end too, where they’re just standing, holding hands together. It’s definite progress and it’s very touching, but it’s also not Love Has Easily Fixed Me/I Have Been Suddenly Cured By Love bullshit. That always means a lot to me.

Honorable Mentions: Beckan/Scrap (A History of Glitter and Blood); Maya/Amar (The Star-Touched Queen); Petey/Finn (Bone Gap); Patricia/Laurence (All The Birds in the Sky); Rosemary/Sissix (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet); Nina/Matthias (Crooked Kingdom); Jesper/Wylan (Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom); Lois/SmallvilleGuy (Fallout); Alex/Rishi (Labyrinth Lost)

SUPER ABILITY (OR SUPER GADGET) I’D MOST LIKE TO STEAL

darker-shadedrearcliffnys

TIE!

Creating Doorways to Alternate Worlds (A Darker Shade of Magic); Keep A Whole Book In Your Head and Be the Expert On One Subject For A Short Time (The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School); Human Compass (Not Your Sidekick)

Yeah, fuck it, it’s a three-way tie. Look, when you primarily read SF/F, you’re going to find an overabundance of awesome magical powers and gadgets that you’ll desperately envy.

First, obviously, the ability to create doorways to alternate worlds is just inherently neat. I don’t really feel like I have to explain this one, do I? It would just be unbearably awesome. My vacations would be SO MUCH COOLER than your vacations. And anytime I needed to escape someone, boom. Try to follow me into another world, motherfucker.

But the idea of being able to keep an entire book in my head and become an expert on any subject, even if only for a short time, strikes me as hugely practical, especially if I could relive high school because Jesus Christ, I would have been the best student ever (unless I was unfortunate enough to have two tests on the same day). But even outside a scholastic setting, I think it could be useful. I’d just wheel a suitcase around with me at all times with a variety of books I might think were useful. Having a medical emergency and can’t get to a hospital? Here I am with my handy copy of Gray’s Anatomy to help out. Has your loved one unfortunately been possessed? Here I am with my handy book on Latin to help provide an exorcism. (In fact, I would have books on every language imaginable so that I could communicate with anyone, at least in the short term.)

Finally, being a Human Compass would be great because it’d be pretty awesome to be able to find anyone you wanted. It’d be a horrifying power in a villain, mind you, but an amazing one for a hero or even just an everyday person. You’d never have to send another text like “hey, have you already gone inside the restaurant?” while meeting friends. And you could totally open up your own Missing Persons Investigation and make a killing. Or at the very least, you could work at Disneyland and just find kids every time they run off from their parents. (I wonder if you could get free admission and churros out of that. My God, that’s all I want from life.)

Honorable Mentions: Healing Others & Communing With Cats (The Rest Of Us Just Live Here); Heartrending (Six of Crows); Put Things In A Pocket and Make Purple Duplicates (Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School); Controlling Bones And Otherwise Raising the Dead (Crooked Kingdom); Learning Languages By Eating Human Flesh (The Devourers); Tunneling Through Earth (A History of Glitter and Blood); Wearing a Ghost’s Plucked Out Spirit Eye Like A Contact To See What They See (Half-Resurrection Blues); Two Second Time Machine (All the Birds in the Sky); Super Strength (Vigil); Fireballs (Heroine Complex); Super Speed in Fingers/Actions/Thoughts (Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School)

WORST PLOT CONTRIVANCE

fallout

Lois all but trips into a job offer by Perry White – Fallout

I know this is a more critical superlative, but I want to stress that I really enjoyed reading Fallout quite a bit: it’s funny and fast-paced and I like Lois Lane a whole lot. I didn’t know I needed a Lois Lane YA book series, but apparently I totally did, and I have every intention of continuing on with it because I had a great time reading this book . . .

. . . but it did take me a little while to get into it, and I think that’s mostly because I couldn’t initially shake off my disbelief when Lois Lane just happens to stand up for Anavi right in front of Perry White in the first 15 or so pages of the book and subsequently gets an immediate job offer which, of course, provides the entire foundation for the novel’s plot. I absolutely believed Lois would stand up for Anavi, of course, and maybe it’s a silly thing to get hung up on, but the sheer convenience of Perry White just happening to be right there and immediately offering a job .. . . I just didn’t buy it. Once I could move past that, the rest of the novel was a joy, but it did take a while for me to move past it.

Honorable Mentions: Tark’s dad is conveniently called away on business before his son’s exorcism (The Girl From the Well); The father dies only a few months after the girls escape (The Girls at the Kingfisher Club); Jess can’t figure out Abby is M (Not Your Sidekick); Lanyon dies from emotional shock after watching Mr. Hyde transform back into Dr. Jekyll (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

WORST TWIST

inheritance

Heron is John Basalm – An Inheritance of Ashes

There’s a lot to like about this book: the world, the Dark God, our narrator Hallie, and the story’s strong emotional catharsis–particularly in this one scene near the end between Hallie, the mayor dude, and the mayor dude’s wife.

But I found Heron’s secret identity to be disappointing because it was so entirely obvious; I hoped and hoped and hoped it was a fake-out, but of course it wasn’t. And an obvious twist certainly isn’t the end of the world or anything–I’ve liked plenty of books that have had them–but they can sometimes grate if you have to wait hundreds of pages to be told something you figured out in the first few chapters, and that’s pretty much how I felt here.

Honorable Mentions: Abby is secretly M (Not Your Sidekick); People with mental illnesses are chosen for plausible deniability (Borderline)

BEST TWIST

broken-homes

Lesley is working with The Faceless Man – Broken Homes

I’m gonna have to see how it’s handled in the next book to decide how much I actually like this development, but I’ve got to admit: nothing I read this year shocked me as much as Lesley betraying Peter at the end of the book, like, my hand went to my mouth and everything. It didn’t feel cheap, like, I could see it happening, but my brain just didn’t even go there. I was floored, and sometimes that’s a pretty neat feeling.

I can’t decide how I want this to all turn out when I eventually read Foxglove Summer. (PLEASE don’t spoil me, guys, if you’ve already read it.) On one hand, I don’t know that I really want Lesley to be a bad guy because she’s just so awesome and I love her. On the other hand, this twist isn’t just surprising, it’s interesting, and I’m worried a quick ‘oh, she was just pretending to be a bad guy all along’ reveal will weaken that.

Honorable Mention: Tom is a robot (The Conclave of Shadows)

MOST ANNOYING ROMANCE

hrb

Carlos & Sasha – Half-Resurrection Blues

There’s a whole lot to like about this book–it’s a fantastic urban fantasy with a wonderful voice and great supporting characters, not to mention it’s quotable as fuck–but the romance between Carlos and Sasha was a serious problem for me. Part of that’s because Sasha is one of those female characters who’s, you know, basically okay in scene, but isn’t so FantabulousSexyFascinatingPERFECT that you understand why the lead guy falls in love with her instantly, nor why he continues talking about her for the entire book like she’s the only woman in the whole world.

Mostly, though, it’s because Carlos is a giant asshat. Actually, in every non-Sasha related aspect, I like Carlos quite a bit. Unfortunately, Carlos gets tricked into killing Sasha’s brother in the beginning of the book, and then Carlos starts screwing Sasha full well knowing who she is and that it’s wrong. It’s super gross and awful, and Carlos feeling bad about it doesn’t make up for the fact that he does it AND never tells her. She finds out herself.

The only thing slightly redeeming about all of this is that Sasha leaves him at the end of the book . . . but this is the beginning of a series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they get back together. And Carlos has the audacity to whine about her taking his baby and leaving (oh yeah, she totes gets pregnant), and I’m like, “Fuck you, Carlos. You are being insanely terrible right now.”

Honorable Mentions: Alana & Tev (Ascension); Cordelia & Aral (Shards of Honor); Evie & Nate (Heroine Complex); Alex/Rishi/Nova love triangle (Labyrinth Lost); Easy & Daphne (Devil in a Blue Dress); Verity & David (Vigil)

CHIEF ASSHAT

curious

Christopher’s Father – The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time

Oh my GOD, this fucker.

Okay. So, Christopher is an autistic teenager who decides to investigate who murdered his neighbor’s dog. While doing that, he discovers that his supposedly dead mother is not, in fact, dead; she had an affair with the neighbor lady’s husband and went off to live with him. Rather than explain that he’s been jilted, Christopher’s Father tells the kid that she died and has since been hiding all of the letters she sends. This alone would be enough to make him a serious contender for Chief Asshat.

What pushes him to the top, though, is that Christopher’s Father has some kind of fling with the neighbor lady after his wife leaves him, only when the neighbor puts an end to that, he, in a fit of rage, murders her fucking dog. Yeah. He sticks a garden fork through the dog’s neck because a woman didn’t want to screw him. What the fucking fuck.

Christopher, quite rightly, decides that his father isn’t safe to be around and takes the fuck off to go live with his mom. That goes badly because almost every adult in this novel is awful (both parents have physically abused him at least once, although this is treated very casually, like who wouldn’t lose it now and then and hit their autistic kid), but in the end, Christopher’s Father shows Christopher that he loves him and that he’s sorry and that he’s trustworthy now because look! He got Christopher a new puppy! That’ll totally make murdering the last dog okay! In related news, WHO LET THIS FUCKING MAN BUY A FUCKING DOG WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK TIMES INFINITY?

I desperately wanted Christopher to be adopted by someone actually kind, supportive, not abusive, and not a dog-murderer. However, that never turns out to be the case. The actual ending of this book is a tragedy, although apparently it’s not supposed to be.

Honorable Mentions: Carlos (Half-Resurrection Blues); Corbin (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet); Sean (Bone Gap); Claudia (Not Your Sidekick); Fenrir (The Devourers); The Father (The Girls at the Kingfisher Club); Principal Butler (Fallout); Maya’s Father (The Star-Touched Queen); Laurence (The Steep and Thorny Way)

BEST VILLAIN

birds

Theodolphus Rose – All The Birds In The Sky

Because I love him. Desperately. Which is why he also wins FAVORITE SUPPORTING CHARACTER, a list with many, many, MANY nominees.

Our assassin turned guidance counselor is a huge part of why I love the first section of this novel so much. Everything about him is equally fascinating and hilarious. I’ve read a lot of weird and funny things this year, but I don’t think I read anything that made me laugh so hard as Theodolphus’s up-and-down adventures with ice cream. I’m aware that doesn’t exactly make him sound like a Best Villain candidate, but he is an important antagonist (at least, for a while) and highly effective at manipulation, and he is so perfectly whimsically weird that no one else really stood a chance in this category. The only thing I didn’t like about Theodolphus Rose was how he pretty much just disappeared in the second half.

Whenever I eat ice cream now, a part of me will always be thinking about Theodolphus. Which either means I’ll be laughing, crying, or fearing that said ice cream is poisoned.

Honorable Mentions for Best Villain: The Woman in Black (The Girl From the Well); The Architect (Cuckoo Song); Astrid & Athos (A Darker Shade of Magic)

Honorable Mentions For Favorite Supporting Character: Petey (Bone Gap); Miguel (Bone Gap); Karé Kun (Star Wars: Before The Awakening); Jared (The Rest Of Us Just Live Here); Mel (The Rest Of Us Just Live Here); Tark (The Girl From The Well); Pen (Cuckoo Song); Violet (Cuckoo Song); Kade (Every Heart A Doorway); Sumi (Every Heart A Doorway); Jack (Every Heart A Doorway); Caryl (Borderline); Dr. Davis (Borderline); Tjuan (Borderline); Jack (The Conclave of Shadows); Johnny (The Conclave of Shadows); Mama Esther (Half-Resurrection Blues); Kia (Half-Resurrection Blues); Riley (Half-Resurrection Blues); Doris (The Girls at the Kingfisher Club); Pepper (The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet); SmallvilleGuy (Fallout); Gauri (The Star-Touched Queen); Kamala (The Star-Touched Queen); Lucy (Heroine Complex); Bells (Not Your Sidekick); Whisper (Red Harvest)

ULTIMATE SURVIVOR

steep

Hanalee- The Steep And Thorny Way

The odds seem stacked against Hanalee. She’s a biracial girl living in 1930’s Oregon where the KKK runs rampant; as if that wasn’t enough, her story is based on Hamlet, you know, that play where basically everybody dies.

But one of the things I most enjoyed about this book was how it maintained a surprisingly optimistic tone, even in the face of horrors pulled from the real world. Hanalee is a strong, interesting protagonist whose determination to survive and refusal to give up make me respect the hell out of her. Not only does she survive this story, I have no doubt that she’ll manage to someday become a lawyer like she’s always dreamed, no matter how impossible it might seem in this time period.

Honorable Mentions: Roza (Bone Gap); Tark (The Girl From the Well); Kaz (Six of Crows); Fairies (A History of Glitter and Blood)

BOOK THAT SORELY TESTED MY FEMINISM

shards

Shards of Honor – Lois McMaster Bujold

Some of my disappointment with this book was my own fault. I didn’t realize I’d essentially picked up the prequel to the novel I was looking for, so of course it didn’t quite meet expectations. It ended up being much more of a romance than I’d been hoping for, although I feel like I could have gotten past that if I felt the romance was convincing.

But hey, things like that happen. My real problem with this book is all the super icky rape stuff in it, like, SO MUCH icky rape stuff. There’s an attempted rape scene that’s pretty much taken from a mustache-twirling villain’s handbook. Our protagonist briefly sympathizes with a sadistic rapist, thinking they have “common ground” just because they both like the same guy. She thinks at one point, Maybe he’s only a rapist. It might be possible to handle a simple rapist. Such direct, childlike souls, hardly offensive at all. And then there’s the mentally ill man who cares for a catatonic rape victim by ‘treating her like his own wife,’ and when I say that, yes, I mean he rapes her too.

This book. Drowning in NOPE.

Honorable Mention: Half-Resurrection Blues – Daniel José Older

FAVORITE “SHOULD HAVE READ THIS IN SCHOOL” BOOK

dr-j-mr-h

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

Okay, so this mostly wins by default, since I don’t think I read anything else this year that an English teacher would have ever assigned. (At least, not one out of a movie who breaks the rules and gives passionate speeches against the crusty school board because he’s a rebel, damn it, and he really cares about the kids). But it was enjoyable enough, especially because I kind of expected it to be something else. This story was a bit more nuanced than Hollywood had led to me believe it would be.

Although. I will never, ever stop mocking Lanyon for dying from the emotional shock of seeing Dr. Jekyll transform. That loser. Lanyon absolutely earns his WORST DEATH here. Any death that makes me think “SHE’S LOST THE WILL TO LIVE!” is an automatic contender for Worst Death.

BOOK THAT MADE ME CRY LIKE A BABY

monster

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

For once, this award doesn’t go to a Connie Willis novel. Probably because I didn’t read any Connie Willis novels this year, but also because this book, oh, this book.

The thing about A Monster Calls is that I think most readers probably know where it’s going, that the monster isn’t there to heal the mother but the child. Knowing that, however, doesn’t rob the story of its power in the slightest. It’s a hugely emotional story without ever becoming overly sappy or sentimental, and there were definitely some tears, particularly while I was reading the hospital scenes. When the mom finally admits that this is The Talk and that she understands if her son is angry right now and that she’s angry herself . . . just . . . ugh. So. GOOD.

FAVORITE OPENING LINE OR PASSAGE

cuckoo

Her head hurt. There was a sound grating against her mind, a music-less rasp like the rustling of paper. Somebody had taken a laugh, crumpled it into a great, crackly ball, and stuffed her skull with it. Seven days, it laughed. Seven days.  – Cuckoo Song

This one had me hooked from the very beginning. In a few sentences, Frances Hardinge manages to not only set the book’s tone with the weird creepy imagery of crumpled laughter shoved inside one’s brain, she also effectively sets the clock: seven days until something very important happens. We don’t know quite yet what this something will be, but I think we’re all pretty clear it ain’t gonna be good.

Honorable Mentions:

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. – A Monster Calls

It was midmorning on a Monday when magic walked into my life wearing a beige Ann Taylor suit and sensible flats. – Borderline

Kell wore a very peculiar coat.
It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible. – A Darker Shade of Magic

Once upon a time there were four fairies in the city who hadn’t been maimed. – A History of Glitter and Blood

I am where dead children go. – The Girl From the Well

The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing. – Labyrinth Lost

Staring at the sky in Bharata was like exchanging a secret. – The Star-Touched Queen

A week after Mother found her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett was delivered to her new school. Like a parcel. – The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

I am not a superhero.
This was the only thought I could muster when a cupcake with fangs launched itself at my head. – Heroine Complex

FAVORITE QUOTE

devourers

“I am one woman. I am not all women. Do you hear me, you fucking sad, sad thing?”
The Devourers

I love this line. Cyrah said any number of brave, defiant, and unapologetically truthful things over the course of this book, but this might be my very favorite moment, when she confronts her rapist for the final time. Her downright refusal to be seen as a symbol or stand-in for all women is one of the most stirring, badass, and feminist things I’ve read all year.

Now. Here are your Honorable Mentions for Quotes. There’s approximately 200 of them. You might be thinking that sounds like a lot or that doesn’t sound very accurate, both of which are probably right, but I want you to appreciate how difficult this was. I made a hard limit for myself: no more than five quotes per novel, and you need to understand how absolutely impossible that was with many, many books. Actually, if you want an additional superlative, Most Quotable Book (AKA Book I Agonized The Hardest About Keeping At Only Five Quotes) is a four-way tie between Bone Gap, Half-Resurrection Blues, Six of Crows, and All the Birds in the Sky.

ALL THE QUOTES

“Don’t look now,” he said, “but there’s a mouse behind you, and he’s got a crossbow.”
– Bone Gap

“She’s not here for me.”
“How do you know?”
“Her dad once asked my dad if he knew any gangsters in Mexico.”
“Isn’t your dad from Venezuela?”
“Do I really have to explain this to you?”
– Bone Gap

Miguel’s voice boomed in his head. Any minute now, a cat will jump out in front of you and you’re going to feel like a dumbass. And just when you relax, the ax murderer will chop off your head. Surprise cat, then head chop. Always in that order.
– Bone Gap

“You have ruined yourself. No one will want you now.”
“Then I don’t want them,” said Roza. “Foolish boys who drop you in puddles. You are the puddle.”
– Bone Gap

Propose a theory to explain one of these eternal mysteries: Mona Lisa’s smile, crop circles, or Velveeta.
            Here is a theory of love:
You find a sister, you gain
a brother, you lose
a sister, you lose
a brother, you lose a cat,
you find a girl, you kiss
a girl, you find the cat,
you hope
that there is nothing left to lose, and
all there is, is there to find.
Bone Gap

The indie kids, huh? You’ve got them at your school, too. That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the thrift shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs the Source of All Light or something. They’re too cool to ever, ever do anything like go to prom or listen to music other than jazz while reading poetry. They’ve always got some story going on that they’re the heroes of. The rest of us just have to live here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.

Having said that, the indie kids do die a lot. Which must suck.
– The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Chapter The Second, in which indie kid Satchel writes a poem, and her mom and dad give her loving space to just feel what she needs to; then an indie kid called Dylan arrives at her house, terrified, to say a mysterious glowing girl has informed him of the death of indie kid Finn; Satchel and Dylan comfort each other, platonically.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here

“I brought that essay I did last year on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” he says, handing it to me. Me and Mel are the only two in AP English, and that awful, awful book is one of our exam tests, so he’s really helping us out here.
– The Rest of Us Just Live Here

“Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for its consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumor.”
– The Rest of Us Just Live Here

We kept hearing reporters say “this little middle of nowhere” as we passed. Which, yeah, I also say a lot, but it’s different when I say it.
– The Rest of Us Just Live Here

“Rapier Four. Standing by.”
“You see,” said Poe, “you should all follow Muran’s example, there. You hear how nicely Rapier Four reported in, without editorializing or anything?”
The sound of Karé’s yawning for effect came over Poe’s speakers. He grinned, despite himself.
Star Wars: Before The Awakening

“What do you want me to tell you, Iolo?” Poe asked. “I’ve been writing to the Guavians daily asking them to step up their criminal activities, but so far, they’re just not responding.”
– Star Wars: Before The Awakening

“I gave you an order, Captain Kun.”
“Sorry, can’t hear you because of all these TIE fighters coming at me.”
– Star Wars: Before The Awakening

“A handsome horse, a handsome woman, they’ll never give you grief. Pretty is heartbreak waiting to happen.”
“That’s a man’s take on it. Beauty is power.”
– Silver on the Road

“But they do eat people?” Her voice did not squeak.
“Sometimes. Not often.”
That failed to be reassuring.
– Silver on the Road

It is an unpleasant sensation, being in agreement with a demon.
– Silver on the Road

“Ours is not to question God’s will, only to do as we are called.”
“That’s an excellent way to get yourself killed,” Isobel agreed.
– Silver on the Road

“Why does she like standing on the ceiling?”

“Sometimes she stands the right way like us, but she got used to ceilings too. Someone hurt her really, really badly, and they put her down someplace that was dark and smelly, like a big hole. Her head went in first before her feet and she died like that, so she got used to seeing everything upside down.”

“I don’t understand.”

The girl swivels in her swing seat. She grasps the sides of the swing with both hands and tips herself over backward so that her hair grazes the ground and she is looking over at the teaching assistant from the wrong way up.

“Like this,” she says. “She died looking at everything like this.”
The Girl From the Well

My experiences with Tarquin and Callie do not
crush them take them break them
still the hungers, the malice that bubbles within.
I am who I am.
– The Girl From the Well

“Your name is Okiku, isn’t it?”
Without looking back at her, I nod slightly.
“The same Okiku from Himeji Castle?”
Another nod.
She says nothing for some time. I imagine that conversing with the dead is always difficult for the living.
“Did you kill those boys that were in the news today?”
I smile.
– The Girl From the Well

Arts and Antiques, definitely not known by the rest of the Met as the Arts and Crafts squad, occasionally recover an item so valuable that even the evidence storage locker in the middle of New Scotland Yard isn’t secure enough.
Broken Homes

Peter Grant at the South Bank, I thought. His eyes wide, his testicles on fire.
– Broken Homes

I couldn’t remember a single step of any procedure relating to the discovery of a bomb, but I was pretty certain that step one wasn’t hyperventilating.
– Broken Homes

Having made his millions he headed to London, for the culture, the nightlife and most of all because, as far as he knew, none of his immediate relatives lived there.
– Broken Homes

“He lives on the outskirts,” said Jaget and we shared a moment of mutual incomprehension at the inexplicable life choices of commuters.
– Broken Homes

If Triss were found here, even she would be in trouble. She might have special privileges for loitering near death’s door, but Sebastian had passed through it and so outranked her.
Cuckoo Song

This was jazz that had wiped its feet and put on its best manners to meet somebody’s mother.
– Cuckoo Song

“You remind me of a little girl I knew years ago. One day, all of a sudden, her head fell off. It was very sad.”
– Cuckoo Song

After a long period of silence, there came a sense that hugging had solved all it could.
– Cuckoo Song

“I don’t want to go to prison!” she wailed at last. “I want my mommy!”
“I know,” said Trista, who had no mommy. “I know.”
– Cuckoo Song

“It disturbs me, the ease with which I feel sad for him, after he’s told me a story steeped in carnage, not to mention a rather romantic outlook on kissing people in their sleep.”
– The Devourers

“One question, foreigner. How do you speak my language so well?” you asked.
“A dead man taught me, after I ate him, just as the Christ taught his disciples the love of their God after they ate him.”
– The Devourers

“Your teeth are sharp stones, dulled by civilization,” said Gévaudan.
The Devourers

“Listen to me, white man. You’ve no right to buy your way into a woman’s bed with nothing to barter with but fear. If you will not stay your hand, I want my fucking payment.”
– The Devourers

“What is it with you two and love?” I shouted, the echoes bursting through the crumbled chasms of the city. I got on my knees next to this false man, not caring that my legs were steeped in cold blood and mud. “You rage against it constantly, but think of nothing else in the human world. I don’t love anyone on this earth but my dead mother.”
– The Devourers

He looked older. The years didn’t wear on people the same way, but Pitts had taken the last six pretty personally.
An Inheritance of Ashes

“That was the stupid me,” he replied, eyes glinting. “He’s dead now. I put a hatchet in his face.”
– An Inheritance of Ashes

She might be leaner, and taller, and half strange with absence, but she was still the same Nasturtium Blakely who’d run all our games as a child, forever frustrated that we were catching her imaginary trout wrong.”
– An Inheritance of Ashes

“You know,” she said mildly, “if either of you hurt the other, I will kill you.”
“Which one?” Tyler asked.
“I can’t decide. Neither. Both.” She shook her head. “I’ll call it even and you’ll both just die.”
– An Inheritance of Ashes

“Home doesn’t wait for you, sometimes.”
– An Inheritance of Ashes

“What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.
Six of Crows

“Do you know how to shoot?”
Wylan nodded slowly. “Skeet.”
Jesper rolled his eyes. He snagged the rifle from his back and shoved it into Wylan’s chest. “Great. This is just like shooting clay pigeons, but they make a different sound when you hit one.”
– Six of Crows

She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.
– Six of Crows

Even Matthias gave her an awkward bow and said, “I understand you’re the reason we made it out of the harbor alive.”
“I suspect there were a lot of reasons,” said Inej.
“I’m a reason,” Jesper offered helpfully.
– Six of Crows

“Because you’re horrible. You’re loud and lewd and . . . treacherous. Brum warned us that Grish could be charming.”
“Oh, I see. I’m the wicked Grisha seductress. I have beguiled you with my Grisha wiles.”
She poked him in the chest.
“Stop that.”
“No. I’m beguiling you.”
– Six of Crows

It’s funny how your own thoughts sound meaner when they come out of someone else’s mouth.
Borderline

He started the car, looking irked, as though I had started crying on purpose. Men seem to think that women do this on a regular basis, which is bullshit. Just because you don’t feel something, the other person is faking it. You know who thinks like that? Sociopaths.
– Borderline

Memory is a sketch artist, not a camera. People add and subtract whatever detail they need to. They say they forgive you, but they don’t.
– Borderline

“Teo, your mom was an asshole. You can’t judge a culture by its assholes.”
– Borderline

“It’s Ironbones!” she said in delighted surprise, as though I had not identified myself at the buzzer. “What a terrifying honor! Would you like to come in for sex and oranges?”
– Borderline

Brad is tall and thick. His blonde hair is close cropped in a military buzz cut. Of the crew behind him, three are basically Brad clones with different colored hair, one is an Asian Brad, and another little guy is definitely Indian/Pakistanian or maybe Puerto Rican. Or half-black. Whatever he is, he gets randomly searched every time he’s within twenty feet of an airport.
Half-Resurrection Blues

His mind is so cluttered with boring roommate drama that it’s spilling out in waves. One of the Amandas fell in love with him, but he loved the other one; then they all switched, some frenzy of postadolescent musical sex chairs that I’d rather not know the details of, but there they are, suspended in the air around his head like a stupid halo.
– Half-Resurrection Blues

Words are such pitiful stupid things sometimes. Like when I speak them. To people who really need to be comforted.
– Half-Resurrection Blues

“Anyway, they were like ‘Look, Russell, this can go one of two ways: you can continue to fuck up your life and die in a sniffing pool of your own self-centeredness’—I’m paraphrasing, of course.”
“Of course.”
“Or you can embrace the wild enigmatic complicated bitch that is your destiny and ride it into the motherfucking sunset.”
– Half-Resurrection Blues

“I never drank again. I sold all my coke.”
“You sold it? Most people just flush it.”
“I’m a businessman.”
“Understood.”
– Half-Resurrection Blues

“The old man just turned up, alive!” Koudelka greeted him.
“Huh! I hought the Betans had cut his throat,” said the yeoman, surprised. “And we did the funeral dinner up so nice.”
Shards of Honor

“Why can’t you just lose your temper with subordinates, like normal men, instead of with superiors, like a lunatic?”
Shards of Honor

“He breaks it for a price, then.”
“Not for a price. At a cost.”
“I fail to see the distinction.”
“A price is something you pay. A cost is something you lose.”
Shards of Honor

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice.
“Sure I do,” Lila countered cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London.”
A Darker Shade of Magic

“Some people steal to stay alive, and some steal to feel alive.”
A Darker Shade of Magic

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”
A Darker Shade of Magic

“Don’t send me there. Don’t send me there.”
“I thought you were a seeker.”
– The Ballad of Black Tom

Buckeye watched Black Tom quietly. He’d been hustling long enough to know there are questions you don’t ask if you want to avoid being pulled into a court case later.
Black Tom said, “I did something big, bigger than anyone will understand for a long time. I was just so angry.”
Buckeye nodded, ate another few bites of his mofongo, and strenuously did not ask follow up questions.
The Ballad of Black Tom

The Sleeping King is dead but dreaming.
– The Ballad of Black Tom

She first saw Drearcliff Grange through the train’s smuts-spotted windows. Shifting from seat to seat, she kept the school in sight as long as possible.

Amy had hoped the name was misleading. It wasn’t.

She should have known. Misleading place names like Greenland or the Cape of Good Hope ran the other way, passing off desolate climes as pleasant resorts. Drearcliff was exactly what it sounded like. A rambling, gloomy ill-repaired estate on top of a cliff. This was wind and rain country.
The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

Frecks had what Mother called ‘a strong personality,’ which was code for a friend of Amy’s she didn’t approve of.
– The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

Amy had never heard of the Other Ones, but didn’t like the sound of them. A good rule of thumb was not to trifle with groups who liked to be called the Anything Ones—the Old Ones, the Wicked Ones, the Deep Ones, the Comely Ones. All thoroughly bad lots.
– The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School

The girls were wild for dancing, and nothing else. No hearts beat underneath those thin, bright dresses. They laughed like glass.
– The Girls At The Kingfisher Club

Married. Said like it was a prize for them, like it was a choice.
She thought about her mother, what situation she must have been in that marrying their father would have been the way out. It wasn’t a compelling case.
– The Girls At The Kingfisher Club

Ella knows that when you ask for a favor from a man, you must always be smiling.
– The Girls At The Kingfisher Club

“You’ve been all right, then?”
If this was his way of drawing her out, he didn’t know how to do it very well. She said, “No doubt it’s just the benefit of sunlight and some clothes that can be bought in person.”
– The Girls At The Kingfisher Club

“I like boats,” said Doris blandly, and crossed her legs at the ankles.
The Girls At The Kingfisher Club

This was the kind of event Petunia had craved since first entering society. This was the dinner party to end all dinner parties. The fact that there was a slim chance they might be the dinner at said party was a small price to pay for the honor of being invited.
Manners & Mutiny

“Do come in—I insist—and your fine young man. Oh, my, is he wearing anything at all? Sophronia, did you bring me a present?”
“No,” said Sophronia, cheerfully. “I brought you a werewolf, but he entirely belongs to me.”
– Manners & Mutiny

Dimity had firm opinions on cucumber, which she felt was nothing more than slimy, embarrassingly shaped water and should never, under any circumstances, be presented at table.
– Manners & Mutiny

Ashby didn’t care much for gravity that couldn’t be turned off.
– The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

“You’re not a dinosaur.”
“You don’t know that. You weren’t there. Maybe some of them built ships and left.”
– The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

“You know, there are crazy speciest Aandrisks, too,” Sissix said. “But they don’t go bugging other people about it.”
“What do your crazy speciests do?” Kizzy asked.
Sissix shrugged. “Live on gated farms and have private orgies.”
“How is that any different from what the rest of you do?”
“We don’t have gates and anybody can come to our orgies.”
– The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

“I hate this game,” Sissix said, frowning over the checkered pixel board.
Ashby took a bite of spice bread. “You’re the one who wanted to play.”
“Yeah, well, I’m going to win one of these days, and then I can be done with it forever.”
– The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

However this person wanted to greet her, she was going to flow with it. She was part of a multispecies crew now, and she was going to be graceful about it, dammit.
The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

I stopped halfway up the steps of the old Russian Hill Victorian, canvas bags filled with farmers’ market produce slung over my shoulders, sunflowers cradled in one arm, the other arm thrust through the frame of my collapsible shopping cart. All of it because I was too lazy to make a second trip up the stairs. Humans are funny creatures. The lengths we’ll go to just to avoid retreading old ground.
– The Conclave of Shadows

In San Francisco, the fog is a living thing. His name is Karl. He has a Twitter feed.
– The Conclave of Shadows

On the wall above my headboard, the plaster had been scratched away in jagged clumps. Left behind were rough sigils oozing black in the center. They looked like the sort of thing a horror movie killer would leave over the bed of a dead roommate.
– The Conclave of Shadows

It had been the same when I’d learned the Shadow speech. My grandfather had spoken it to me growing up the way other people spoke Spanish or Chinese to their kids to help with language acquisition. And I had never thought it strange because to me it was just another language. Albeit one that was best spoken at night, in dark places.

There were many things about my upbringing that were only strange in the retrospect.
– The Conclave of Shadows

I gave myself a few moments to come up with a response more diplomatic than “the hell you will.”
The Conclave of Shadows

(about Macbeth) “It’s not a good sign when the witches are the most sympathetic characters, that’s all I’m saying.”
Fallout

“Is that why Butler thought one of them had a crush on you?”
“No, that’s just because I’m a girl. Isn’t that what adults always think when you complain about treatment by boys?”
– Fallout

But I had to pretend that it didn’t hurt. When bravery didn’t turn out like you wanted, there was always that option.
– Fallout

The woman tottered at the negative version of warp-speed until she was behind a futuristic white desk.
– Fallout

He might pretend to be nice, but you could always tell what kind of boss someone was by how their assistant acted around them. He had poor Ronda walking on eggshells, which must have been uncomfortable in high heels.
– Fallout

Juliet, you instantly calm down. It’s entirely reasonable that a man you just met at a party would now be lurking in the bushes outside your house! This is what romance looks like!
Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable Path Adventure

“If my dad finds you here he’ll kill you,” you say.
“One angry look from you would be worse than twenty of your homicidal relatives,” he says. “Look at me with love in your eyes and I will be invincible!”
“I’m serious, dude,” you say, “my dad will murder you.”
“I’d rather die than live a second more without your love!” Romeo says.
“He owns like thirty swords,” you say.
“Oh,” Romeo replies. “I didn’t realize it was that many.”
– Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable Path Adventure

Fill in the blanks below to embark on an erotic journey without parallel.
– Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable Path Adventure

“Exactly. But she’s shielded from Cupid’s arrow by her +2 shield of chastity. She won’t listen to my words of love!” you say.
“That’s her choice,” Benvolio says.
“She won’t let me look at her with my eyes of love!” you say.
“Again, it’s really her choice to do that or not,” Benvolio says.
“She won’t even open her lap to receive my golden gift of love!” you say.
“I don’t think you can fault her for this,” Benvolio says, “as consent is the center of any defensible system of sexual ethics.”
– Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable Path Adventure

You can’t figure out why she wouldn’t bend the rules even a little for you. You’re a 15-year-old boy who confessed your love to a woman in her thirties within five minutes of meeting her! What’s not to like?
– Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable Path Adventure

The habit of narration, of crafting something miraculous out of the commonplace, was hard to break. Narration came naturally after a time spent in the company of talking scarecrows or disappearing cats; it was, in its own way, a method of keeping oneself grounded, connected to the thin thread of continuity that ran through all lives, no matter how strange they might become. Narrate the impossible things, turn them into a story, and they could be controlled. So:

She squinted in the daylight. From the look of her, it had been quite some time since she had seen the sun. Her small wheeled suitcase was bright pink, covered with cartoon daisies. She had not, in all likelihood, purchased it herself.
– Every Heart A Doorway

She looked at Nancy with unconcealed suspicion before asking, “Are you a servant of the Queen of Cakes, here to punish me for my transgressions against the Countess of Candy Floss? Because I don’t feel like going to war right now.”
“No,” said Nancy blankly. “I’m Nancy.”
– Every Heart A Doorway

“We’ve much to do, and time does insist on being linear here, because it’s awful.”
Every Heart A Doorway

“I think the rules were different there. It was all about science, but the science was magical. It didn’t care about whether something could be done. It was about whether it should be done, and the answer was always, always yes.”
– Every Heart A Doorway

Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colors and kept trying to set her up on a date with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”
– Every Heart A Doorway

Our tale did not end in tragedy.
– The Steep And Thorny Way

He placed his hands on his hips, looking tall and sturdy and strong—or at least like a boy pretending to be all those things.
The Steep And Thorny Way

“They’ve won.”
“No.” I folded my hands in my lap. “I won’t let them win.”
“Then what do you propose we do?”
I sat up tall. “We survive.”
– The Steep And Thorny Way

When we children were even younger, we’d play hide-and-seek in the middle of the woods. We’d also pretend we were characters in a fairy-tale forest, and I always got to play Snow White, on account of my hair color being only a few shades shy of “black as ebony.” Both Fleur and Laurence would lean over and kiss my cheeks as I lay on the grass beneath the boughs of fir trees singing in the wind, and they’d try to see who could rouse me from my sleep of death. One Laurence surprised me by kissing me on the lips, and when my eyes burst open, he grinned and said, “I won! I woke her in the fastest time of all.”

After that day, he kissed my lips a few more times, always while playing amid the trees in our kingdom of pretend.

Until he outgrew such games.

Until he moved on to girls as white as snow.
– The Steep And Thorny Way

In Bharata, no one believed in ghosts because the dead never lingered.
– The Star-Touched Queen

“The truth,” said Amar, taking a step closer to me, “is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way.”
The Star-Touched Queen

“I bet you taste like spice and cinnamon. I bet you taste like heartbreak. Young things always do.”
– The Star-Touched Queen

“What do you expect me to do?”
“I don’t expect anything,” said Kamala archly. “I expect sunshine and moonshine. But I am telling you to stop being a broken bone. You are in one place, so be in one place. Or I’ll bite you.”
– The Star-Touched Queen

I was a dead girl walking. I was a ghost making peace with the places I once haunted.
– The Star-Touched Queen

My own heart felt too big for my body, beating against my breastbone so hard that I was sure it was mere seconds away from bursting clean out of my chest. We knew we were witnessing something big enough to knock our world off its axis: superheroes who looked like us.
– Heroine Complex 

We took a few precautions. We agreed to go slow. And at my request Nate found the fire extinguisher we kept downstairs and put it next to the bed.
Heroine Complex

Maybe gravity is more will than physics, and all it takes is a lapse of faith to float away.
– Ascension

“Your eyes will weaken. Your legs will start to hurt when you climb stairs. The space behind your knees will ache, like growing pains all over again, but this time you’ll know the feeling is your body stretching and reshaping, pulling itself apart to make room for death. You’ll fight it with medication like you always do, but she’ll still come for you. Memories will lose definition around the edges, smoothing over in places that were once sharp and precise. Your skin will seem to expand and deflate, wrinkling in places that were once like silk. You’ll feel as if you’re shrinking inside your skin, disappearing. You’ll get implants and upgrades, you’ll fill your body with scaffolding to hold it together, to buy time, but the truth will remain: you’re dying. You have always been dying.”
– Ascension

“You’re useless, Nova Quick and you have no heart.”
– Ascension

Even the mere mention of the name Adul was becoming a trigger for me. I was starting to realize my parents would be dying all the time, in my head. Over and over again, they would die, and Adul would fade, and I would never not see that when I closed my eyes, or when I heard their names, or when I heard certain sounds, saw certain colors, felt certain things. Everyday things, like the weight of the shoes I wore the day they died, or the feeling of the navigation console beneath my fingers. When I felt these things, I’d lose everything all over again. That was what it meant to grieve.
– Ascension

“Love is like sunlight,” she said when I didn’t respond. “You can give all of yourself to someone and still have all of yourself to give to others, and to yourself. To your work. To anything or anyone you choose. Love isn’t like food; you won’t starve anyone by giving it freely. It’s not a finite resource.”
Ascension

“I am bound and facing the prospect of torture or worse. Are you actually flirting with me?”
– Crooked Kingdom

“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
Crooked Kingdom

“In the story it does, and”—she cleared her throat—“they spend a long time getting to know each other. In his cave.”
“He lives in a cave?”
“It’s a very nice cave. Furs. Jeweled cups. Mead.”
“Ah,” he said approvingly. “A treasure hoard like Ansgar the Mighty. They become allies, then?”
Nina picked up a pair of embroidered gloves from another stand. “Do you like these? Maybe we could get Kaz to wear something with flowers. Liven up his look.”
“How does the story end? Do they fight battles?”
Nina tossed the gloves back on the pile in defeat. “They get to know each other intimately.”
Matthias’ jaw dropped. “In the cave?”
– Crooked Kingdom

“You’re better than waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips. “Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”
– Crooked Kingdom

“The blood you spill is the blood of kings,” seethed Dunyasha. “You are not fit for such a gift.”

Inej almost felt sorry for her. Dunyasha really believed she was the Lantsov heir, and maybe she was. But wasn’t that what every girl dreamed? That she’d wake and find herself a princess? Or blessed with magical powers and a grand destiny? Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.

Inej raised a brow and slowly wiped the blood of kings on her trousers.
– Crooked Kingdom

His mum had her own bread and cereal which she bought at a health food shop in town and which Conor thankfully didn’t have to share. It tasted as unhappy as it looked. – A Monster Calls

Who am I, the monster repeated, still roaring. I am the spine that the mountains hang upon! I am the tears that the rivers cry! I am the lungs that breathe the wind! I am the wolf that kills the stag, the hawk that kills the mouse, the spider that kills the fly! I am the stag, the mouse, and the fly that are eaten! I am the snake of the world devouring its tail! I am everything untamed and untameable! It brought Conor up close to its eye. I am this wild earth, come for you, Conor O’Malley.
“You look like a tree,” Conor said.
– A Monster Calls

This was a kingdom.
(“What?” Conor said, looking around his backyard. “Here?”)
The monster cocked his head at him curiously. You have not heard of it?
(“Not a kingdom around here, no,” Conor said. “We don’t even have a McDonalds.”)
– A Monster Calls

“And if, one day,” she said, really crying now, “you look back and you feel bad for being so angry, if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know that it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud.”
A Monster Calls

When he looked at me I felt a thrill of fear, but that went away quickly because I was used to white people by 1948.
I had spent five years with white men, and women, from Africa to Italy, through Paris, and into the Fatherland itself. I ate with them and slept with them, and I killed enough blue-eyed young men to know that they were just as afraid to die as I was.
– Devil In A Blue Dress

The white workers didn’t have a problem with that kind of treatment because they didn’t come from a place where men were always called boys.
– Devil In A Blue Dress

He put up his hand as if he wanted me to bend down so he could whisper something, but I didn’t think that anything he had to offer could improve my life.
– Devil In A Blue Dress

It was a strange experience but I had seen it before. Mr. Todd Carter was so rich that he didn’t even consider me in human terms. He could tell me anything. I could have been a prized dog that he knelt to and hugged when he felt low.

It was the worst kind of racism. The fact that he didn’t even recognize our difference showed that he didn’t care one damn about me.
– Devil In A Blue Dress

“Guilt don’t tell time,” I said.
– Devil In A Blue Dress

“Don Wilsson’s gone to sit on the right hand of God, if God don’t mind looking at bullet holes.”
“Who shot him?” I asked.
The gray man scratched the back of his neck and said:
“Somebody with a gun.”
I wanted information, not wit.
– Red Harvest

“I’ve got a mean disposition. Attempted assassinations make me mad.”
“That won’t get you anything but a box.”
– Red Harvest

He stood at the foot of the bed and looked at me with solemn eyes. I sat on the side of the bed and looked at him with whatever kind of eyes I had at the time.
– Red Harvest

It was a shoe. It was lying in a position that empty shoes don’t lie in.
– Red Harvest

One of the blond boys drove. He knew what speed was.
Red Harvest

Being able to skip two seconds could be quite useful—if you picked the right two seconds. Like when you’re at the dinner table with your parents and your mom has just said something sarcastic about your dad being passed over for another promotion, and you just know your father is about to let out a brief but lethal burst of resentment. You need godlike timing to pick the exact instant when the barb is being launched. There are a hundred leading indicators: the scent of overcooked casserole, the sensation of the room’s temperature dropping slightly. The ticking of the stove, powering down. You can leave reality behind and reappear for the aftermath.
All The Birds in the Sky

“Children,” said Theodolphus Rose, “are adults who haven’t yet learned to make fear their hand puppet.”
– All The Birds in the Sky

“A society that has to burn witches to hold itself together is a society that has already failed, and just doesn’t know it yet.”
– All The Birds in the Sky

Theodolphus had not eaten ice cream since the poisoning at the mall, and he didn’t deserve any now. Ice cream was for assassins who finished their targets.
– All The Birds in the Sky

“Isobel, you can’t kill her. She’s my rocket ship.”
– All The Birds in the Sky

“Do me a favor. Let’s have the rain forest that sets itself on fire be our warning for the rest of our time here.”
Labyrinth Lost

“That’s the thing, my love. Even if you don’t think of the dead, the dead are thinking of you.”
– Labyrinth Lost

“Why’s it always the heart or the eye of something?” Rishi asks. “You notice that? There are so many body parts that don’t get enough love, like earlobes and belly buttons.”
– Labyrinth Lost

I put on a smile when all I want to do is roll my eyes. It’s always nice when your older male relatives tell you how great it is to be a woman now, like I was an androgynous experiment before.
– Labyrinth Lost

“Alex doesn’t have many friends.” The traitor who birthed me pleads my case.
– Labyrinth Lost

“It sounds like nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see.”
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

“Jekyll had more than a father’s interest; Hyde had more than a son’s indifference.”
– The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

As a rule he never trusted physicists. They spent too much time gazing into space, he said, and were far too eager to solve mysteries.
– The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

He became instructor of surgery at Harvard, and in that position made extensive use of cadavers. He liked to point this out to strangers at parties, for some reasons.
– The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

Was the medium in the hypnotic state, they privately scoffed, when she packed artificial hands into her vagina?
– The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

This makes you wonder what he was called before he carried Christ across the river. But he wasn’t called anything because this is an apocryphal story, which means that it is a lie, too.

Mother used to say that it meant Christopher was a nice name because it was a story about being kind and helpful, but I do not want my name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I want my name to mean me.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary.

Which means that a murder victim is usually killed by someone known to them and fairies are made out of paper and you can’t talk to someone who’s dead.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Missing body parts were nothing to cry about and nothing to take too seriously. Ferrum (the oldest fairy city, the living, gasping legend) was nine square miles of cracked cobblestone and iron scaffolding and playgrounds and libraries and was hardly a hazardous space, all in all, so the chunks of fairy that ended up in gnome stomachs were reasonable collateral damage. They were conveniently located around the waterways and farmlands, and they had gnomes to drive their buses and sweep their streets. Sometimes some fairy limbs had to be sacrificed to keep all of that. Call it a tax.
A History of Glitter and Blood

She thinks she remembers Scrap telling her once that Ferrum used to be a fortress. Or maybe she wants to believe there’s something other than racism that made a modestly sized fairy city surround itself with walls too high for anyone to climb.
– A History of Glitter and Blood

Once upon a time there was a writer who couldn’t write a fucking book.
I don’t know what comes next. That whole chapter’s going to need to get thrown out anyway. You completely forgot halfway through that you’d said it was raining at the beginning.
Was it raining?
No one’s ever going to know and it’s all your fault.
Put a fucking map in the next draft.
Chapter two.
– A History of Glitter and Blood

“You are wrapped around each other,” Rig says. “When one of you moves, the other does too.”
“We strangle each other.”
“You keep each other warm.”
– A History of Glitter and Blood

He is not going to die with dignity, he realizes. He is not ready. He will never be ready.
He is going to die fighting and kicking and screaming and crying, and whether that’s good or bad, it’s just the reality. It’s just Scrap. He doesn’t know how to give up.
– A History of Glitter and Blood

“The heir to a fortune and he’s like you—half and half—but no powers to speak of.”
“Thank you for making me sound like a pizza.”
– Vigil

Her hair colour came out of a bottle that hadn’t delivered on the promises it had made.
– Vigil

“Really? After all this time, you thought I’d drop something because you told me too?”
– Vigil

“Maybe I could say sorry with a cup of something warm? It would be overpriced warmth to show my sincerity,” he said.
– Vigil

The incongruous sight of an angel with a Corona in one hand and a hastily constructed ham and cheese sandwich in the other chased away most of my weariness.
Vigil

Oh my God, that’s finally it. 2016, thanks for all the lovely books!

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8 Responses to The 2016 Book Superlatives (Length: EPIC)

  1. So… we must have read the same i09 article or something because there’s a lot of overlap in our 2016 reading list. A few thoughts of mine:

    I LOVED both SIX OF CROWS and CROOKED KINGDOM something fierce. All of the relationships in that duo were awesome and Nina is just all kinds of badass (and Matthias… oh…). You need to read her GRISHA series, which pre-dates this one and is (obviously) part of the same world. I’ve only read the first, SHADOW AND BONE, so far and while it’s not quite as polished as these more recent books (it is her first novel), it’s such an awesome world.

    I also really liked BORDERLINE. The audiobook on it was fab as well. So many things just cracked me up – a lot of great lines in it. I definitely recommend it to many people.

    Still working through both SMALL ANGRY PLANET and THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE.

    Aside from the GRISHA series, a couple recommendations for your 2017 list:

    * PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR MULTIVERSE THEORY — it is incredibly ridiculous, but the audiobook is great (I’m sure it reads well as a hard copy too). It’s a less poignant take on the BUFFY-verse/Chosen One storylines, and it’s just… so absurd you have to experience. I was cracking up basically the entire time and the audiobook performances really sell it (I don’t know if you’re able to listen to things at work or anything, but HIGHLY recommend)

    * GHOST TALKERS — I *cannot wait* until the next one; paranormal magical realism set in WW1 with a pretty badass main female character and a romance that didn’t have me rolling my eyes the entire time. The end is great, too.

    * The EXPANSE series — read it, read it now, at least the first two books. Honestly, the audiobooks are even better because the guys who reads #s 1-3 and #5 is just PHENOMENAL but the world is amazing and talk about a fantastic found-family space opera. The second book is EVERYTHING and may be on my top 10 EVER list. I loved it.

    * AS I DESCENDED — a retelling of Macbeth set in a private southern boarding school where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are a lesbian couple and major shit goes down. There are some legitimately creepy moments in it. It is *not* a perfect book, but it is entertaining and I’d be curious your take on it.

    • You know, I might try Shadow and Bone out at some point, but for some reason when I looked it up, I just didn’t have much interest, despite how much I was into Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Ghost Talkers and As I Descended, though, are both very high on my to-read list.

      I was trying to decide on The Expanse series, as I was interested in the books before I started the show, but never got around to it. Now that I’m really into the show, I’m trying to decide if I wanna read the books or not, if it’ll spoil the show for me.

      I’ve never heard about Practical Applications for Multiverse Theory before, but it looks pretty interesting. Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. Bryan says:

    That scene in Half-Resurrection Blues with Carlos and Russel that you quoted twice? If you think it’s hilarious now, you should hear Older read it out loud. Dude’s got a pretty great stage presence.

    • I’ll bet he does. I loved that video where he explains why he doesn’t use italics for different languages.

      If I hadn’t hated the Carlos/Sasha stuff so, so much, HRB definitely would have been on my Top 10 Books of the Year. I’m hoping that when I eventually pick up the second book, I’ll be able to give it a fresh start. You know, without wanting to throw stuff at Carlos for half the story. 🙂

  3. Teacups says:

    Christopher’s memory and ability to do puzzles ect. in his head would be a terrific ability to have, although that Rain Man bullshit annoys the living hell out of me. I’m autistic, I’ve met a lot of other people who are autistic, and not one of us has had a eidetic memory or any of that kind of shit. But the only canonically autistic character I can think of who wasn’t a damn savant is Gary from Alphas, which is pretty pathetic.

    I also highly enjoyed The Girl In The Well – at first I was a little concerned it was going to be, well, Twilight from Edward’s POV, basically. A lot of “I’m an angsty monster, woe is me, but gosh, I fell in love at first sight with this random teenager, he makes me feel ALIVE again, I shall renounce my angsty monster ways and devote myself to stalking him, protecting him from all harm, and occasionally sticking my tongue down his throat.”

    I was rather delighted that Okiku A) never stopped killing people, B) never stopped looking like a corpse, C) took a long damn time to even be ready to TALK to Tark or anyone else, forget about getting into a relationship, and D) stalked and found her lost humanity through Callie as much as she did Tark.

    I was also pleasantly surprised that as far as the humans went, Callie was really the one who got to do the whole hero’s journey thing, and Tark was basically the damsel-in-distress that she and Okiku had to rescue. And seriously, I loved Callie. Like, she’s obviously not comfortable with supernatural shit like Tark is, and would much rather just teach third-graders and stay normal – which she could. She doesn’t have to be involved. But she loves her cousin, and HE’s involved, so fuck it, she’ll chase down serial killers and investigate ghosts and generally go full Agent Mulder in the hope that somehow, she can help.

    I have to go, but I once again have found a bunch of new books I wanna read. I might comment more later, IDK.

    • Yes, I’ve now read multiple things about the depiction of autism in this book being extremely poor. And you’re right, the list of canonically autistic characters who aren’t savants is awful. On a possible upside, have you heard of a book called On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis? I haven’t read it myself so I can’t actually recommend it, but it’s a YA SF book with an autistic protagonist who I hear isn’t written in the typically emotionless robotic way that so many autistic characters are, very probably because the author herself is autistic. I’ve seen some good reviews and thought maybe you’d be interested, if you hadn’t already heard about it/read it.

      I was totally okay with Tark being the damsel in distress, but I’ll admit, I was actually bummed that Tark was such a minor player compared to Callie. Cause in The Suffering, Tark is actually the protagonist and I pretty much loved him. I was super excited to read from Okiku’s POV in The Girl From the Well, but I was a bit disappointed that Tark had so much less to do than Callie, who doesn’t have as large of a role in the follow-up. I suspect that if I had read this duology in the proper order I would not have had these problems. (Agreed, too, on the awesomeness of Okiku never stopping killing anybody and the like, although obviously I knew that going in. Okiku is awesome.)

      • Teacups says:

        My friend brought up that apparently the author didn’t intend Christopher to be autistic, and Asperger’s was something the publishers just slapped on the blurb. Although having read his blog post about it, I am… less convinced. Like, he carefully points out that Christopher never said he had Asperger’s, and that he regrets the blurb, but he conspicuously doesn’t say that Christopher ISN’T autistic, either. There’s just a lot of blather about labels being bad. (The blog post is here, if you want to read it.)
        http://www.markhaddon.com/aspergers-and-autism

        He also said that he deliberately didn’t do any research on autism, because “imagination always trumps research,” – so he apparently had at least used autism as a base for Christopher’s issues.

        Can I just say, fuck that guy? Like, you don’t get to deliberately write a character who looks like a duck and walks like a duck, get a bunch of shit wrong because you didn’t do any research into ducks, and then when people start asking you about ducks, just go “Oh, but I don’t want to LABEL him as a duck because labels don’t allow you to really understand a person, and anyway, my book wasn’t about ducks,” and skip away. I would have less of an issue if the author didn’t realise that Christopher came off as autistic until the blurb came out, but he clearly did.

        I enjoyed much of the book otherwise, but goddamn, man. Own the characters you write.

        Hee, I was the opposite. When I read The Suffering, I was disappointed in the lack of Callie – although I did enjoy what we got of her, especially the bit about her inviting herself to all of Tark’s exorcisms even though she can’t see ghosts and probably can’t do much. It’s not that I don’t like Tark; I just didn’t love him the way I did Callie.

        • I know the question is rhetorical and you don’t actually need my opinion, but just to throw in my support: yes, you can definitely say fuck that guy.

          Anyone who says imagination always trumps research is a lazy, privileged asshole. It’s one thing to make mistakes; everything you just described is so, so much worse than that. I thought the book was interesting enough and a quick read, but this is all bullshit. (Also, I think there are some payoff problems, and it just kills me that we’re not supposed to think the dad is such a bad guy by the end, even though he murdered a lady’s dog just because the lady didn’t want to sleep with him. UGH.)

          Re: The Suffering – Exactly how I feel in reverse. Callie was fine, I just didn’t love her the way I loved Tark.

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