Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
If I had to pick one favorite book of 2013 this would be my choice. I'm not sure it would work for everyone but it worked for me. The two things that initially drew me in were:
(1) the main character is an artificial intelligence that once controlled a space ship, as well as hundreds of "ancillaries" created from the bodies of people taken from planets annexed by a sprawling intergalactic empire. Now she's down to just one body, and is on a quest for revenge.
(2) the sprawling intergalactic empire doesn't differentiate for gender in either dress or language (although they do have a concept of male and female, and seem to be some far future version of humanity). This is represented by the main character using "she" and "her" to refer to everyone, except when speaking in a local language where gender is relevant.
I feel like reading this book made my mind bigger-- stretched it out in ways I hadn't even realized it could be stretched. But it was also just plain fun, and I really came to feel for Breq (as the spaceship calls herself in her single form). There's not a lot of big action, but I loved the tension as Breq slowly reveals the painful, heartbreaking events in her past that led to her present situation. This book tells a complete and satisfying story, but I am definitely going to be watching for Leckie's next book (coming later this year I believe), which will continue the story of these characters and their world.
[Adult Science Fiction]
Champion by Marie Lu
This was the third and final book in a trilogy (following Legend and Prodigy). I actually read all three in the past year, and loved them all very much. The two main characters June and Day have wonderfully distinct voices and perspectives (which can be a stumbling block in some dual POV books). I love how the entire series explores power and choice, and doesn't try to give any easy answers. And that while there is a quite lovely romance, it doesn't dominate the plot.
[YA Science Fiction]
Stolen Magic by Stephanie Burgis
This was a great year for third books! It is so hard to write a compelling book, let alone a compelling SERIES, but I adored every one of the Kat books, including this one. I love how Kat herself continues to develop -- growing older and wiser but still remaining as spunky and loyal and fierce and wonderful as she ever was. I especially loved how so many of the ongoing character threads were brought together in this book, and resolved in a way that was satisfying and believable. If I were queen of the world I would commission another three books about Kat and her sisters!
[Middle Grade Historical Fantasy]
These Broken Stars by Megan Spooner and Amie Kaufman
This one had a lot of buzz and for me it totally deserved it. I downloaded a sample to my ereader and immediately had to go buy the full book. Very readable! [YA Science Fiction]
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
I think my fairy book-mother was looking out for me on this one. I was in one of those states when you know you want a particular type of book but you aren't entirely sure what. I kind of wanted something light and fun, maybe a little like Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, or Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. And I found this, which ended up being perfect: a teen hearthrob boy meets a girl poet from a small, seaside Maine tourist town via a mistaken email about a pet pig, and they become friends (without actually knowing who each other are). Then boy tracks girl down, and hijinks ensue. [YA Contemporary Realistic]
What have you read lately and enjoyed? I still have some holiday gift certificates to spend! :-)