As 2009 winds down, Paige MacGregor and Kelly Melcher decided to take a look back at the books released this year in an effort to create a Best Books of 2009 list for our Fandomania readers. After some research and deliberation, we reached the conclusion that so many deserving titles were released in 2009 that we couldn’t keep the list down to just ten books, but had to include another five as well! Given the length of our Best Books of 2009 list, we chose to publish the article in segments, releasing five titles at a time and counting down from #15.
If our Best Books of 2009 list is any indication, this past year should be declared “The Year of the Vampire”… or at least it should be considered the year of great science fiction and fantasy novels. In order to be considered for the Best Books of 2009 list, an edition of each book in question had to be published in 2009. In addition to hardcover, paperback, and trade paperback editions, this also includes the publication of any English translations of previously released foreign texts. Without further ado, here are the first five entries (that is, the five lowest rated books) that made it onto Fandomania’s Best Books of 2009 list. Enjoy!
15. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon, the sequel to Stephenie Meyers’s popular young adult vampire novel Twilight, sneaks in at #15 on our list of the best books of 2009 for a couple of reasons. Although Meyers’s writing style is very simplistic, mechanically speaking, it is the way that she uses such simplistic writing to convey such a deep level of emotion to her readers that we find impressive. If you haven’t experienced the heart-wrenching, gut-twisting pain that can accompany the loss of a significant other, then New Moon may not speak to you the same way it does to readers who have gone through such an event (of course, experiencing the insanity that is a teenage girl also helps a great deal). Meyers’s unsophisticated writing conveys so well the type of emotional breakdown that an insecure, overly emotional high school girl can have when she loses the “love of her life” that readers will feel as though they are part of the story unfolding on the pages before them rather than a voyeur. Ultimately, New Moon takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster ride complete with vampires, werewolves, love, loss, and longing. If you can forgive Meyer her sparkly vampires then we recommend that you give the series a try.
14. Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup
Words: you can’t avoid them. If you’re reading this list at this point you have already read 449 of them. What if those symbols were all it took to corrupt your mind? Jessup doles out the bizarre in Open Your Eyes, published through small press Apex Book Company, and while it is “space opera” in genre, it’s unlike almost anything else you have ever read. The imagery is surreal and takes you right out of your comfort zone, and the threat is pervasive. What is more prevalent or more exchanged than language? If you’re looking for your run-of-the-mill space opera, you will have to look elsewhere, but that is also why you don’t see any of those books on this list. Even months after reading, this book will stay with you if not for its surreal landscape than its imaginative prose. This book takes risks — this isn’t a comfortable space opera even if it does have some of the traditional tenets of the genre within its pages. This novella packs as much punch, if not more than novels twice its size. For those reasons alone it deserves recognition. Open your eyes and read this book.
13. Orphan’s Triumph by Robert Buettner
Not all Military Science Fiction is created equal. For a series that started out as a homage to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Orphan’s Triumph took a left turn and forged a path all its own. Orphan’s Triumph is an apt name for the final installment of Jason Wander’s five-book series, as it examines what winning an intergalactic war really means. Inspired by post-9/11 events without dwelling on them, the series can be seen as an allegory for what is going on right here and right now. Can one truly win a war when the only way to win is to completely annihilate the other? Or can war be solved by actually understanding your enemy and realizing that even though you are different, you both have a right to live? While the series as a whole is a romp of improbable situations, spaceships, destruction, and guns, this book is truly a triumph.
12. Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S. G. Browne
A somewhat unique take on the “traditional” zombie novel, S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament is written from the perspective of a newly-risen zombie named Andy. Breathers follows Andy as he tries to adjust to his new “life.” In a world where zombies must be registered to “owners,” are given mandatory curfews, and face constant threat of dismemberment, adjusting to “life” isn’t an easy task. That’s where zombie support groups like Undead Anonymous come into play. Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament is a hilarious and sentimental tale of love, longing and, well, zombies that will make you see zombies in a whole new light. Unlike George Romero and Max Brooks’s zombies, Andy and his zombie friends have more on their undead minds than other people’s braaaaaiiiinnss… in fact, they are self-aware and, in most cases (barring those who died due to brain or head trauma), retain memories from their old lives. Aside from the new-found problem of managing bodily decay and being treated like animals (rogue zombies are even taken to the pound like stray dogs), Browne’s zombies and the humans with whom they co-habitate aren’t all that different — humans and zombies alike want to be respected by and accepted into society, and each fears death at the hands of the other. Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament is a must-have for any fan of the zombie genre… as long as you aren’t freaked out by the idea of zombie sex, that is.
11. The Child Thief by Gerald Brom
Everyone remembers the tale of Peter Pan, a boy who takes children left behind by their parents to a land where they will never have to grow up, a land where they will get to fight pirates and Indians, but that’s not what The Child Thief is all about. While it might better be described as a horror novel as opposed to a dark fantasy, its striking story is what earns it a well-deserved place among the Best Books of 2009. The novel is blunt and brutal, and while you will recognize elements of the original story, this is a much darker representation. The Child Thief harkens back to the original fairy tales, which were dark and cautionary rather than the happy, light versions proliferated by the Disney corporation. While The Child Thief holds little back, it is also included on this list because it succeeds narratively and isn’t preoccupied with the shock value of abuse and violence. Try to avoid getting involved with the story and page-turning at a record pace, I dare you.