Updated: Dec 3, 2021
How the time has flown by. It feels like it was only yesterday when we were welcoming in the new year with all those exciting announcements. Unfortunately, most of the items on the list got pushed back to 2022 but it’s the thought that counts.
Now we’re knocking on the door of the Christmas month and it’s time to take a break and catch up on some of the stuff you missed out on throughout the year. With all that spare time, what better way to spend it than with some good books?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, have a look at the list down below.
5. The Treadstone Exile – Joshua Hood
Starting this list off with a rapid breakneck pace, we have the first novel set in the Jason Bourne universe not written and helmed by Eric Van Lustbader as it has been since 2003. This new novel, The Treadstone Exile, follows former Treadstone operative Adam Hayes after he’s been cut loose from the program and is currently flying medical supplies in Africa.
This somewhat idyllic life is interrupted when his plane is shot down by extremists on their way to the extremist annual picnic and as it always tends to happen Hayes gets embroiled in the local conflict. He agrees – as in agree to do it or be shot at dawn- to transport Zoe Cabot, the daughter of a tech baron.
Again, as tends to happen Zoe gets kidnapped right in front of his eyes. Now, a superhuman assassin killing machine isn’t just going to sit around and let all those useful skills for say… rescuing a kidnapping victim go unused. Hayes mounts a rescue but it’s not all as it seems.
As I mentioned in my review, I found the novel to be an enjoyable romp filled with the hallmarks of a great thriller with enough character to keep the story from becoming stale. It’s a nice pulpy action thriller that’s great for a lazy Sunday holiday read.
4. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Taking a step back from the new and recent releases to an older work from a venerable master of the narrative art himself, Neil Gaiman. First published all the way back in 1999, Stardust follows young Tristran Thorn as he journeys out beyond his village wall in order to collect a valuable prize to win the heart of the beautiful Victoria Forester.
Tristran has vowed to retrieve a fallen star for the target of his affection. Unfortunately, the world he enters is a dangerous and highly peculiar one beyond the ancient walls of his village. It becomes a lot more dangerous when he discovers that the star isn’t just a star, it’s a beautiful woman.
As if that’s not enough, there are multiple parties vying to get the star for their own personal reasons… the main one being a trio of ancient witches that want the star to retain their youth.
This novel is just good plain fun to read. I’ve read it about five times start to finish now and every time I find something new to admire with it. Gaiman’s signature mix of humour and grand storytelling is at the forefront of this novel and if you haven’t given it a read yet, you absolutely should.
3. One Impossible Labyrinth – Matthew Reilly
Back into the present now and we’ve got the highly anticipated finale to Matthew Reilly’s Jack West Jr. helmed Seven Ancient Wonders series released earlier this year. This is the culmination of close to fifteen years of globe-trotting, ass-kicking adventures with former Australian SAS soldier Jack West Jr.
We pick up right after The Two Lost Mountains ended with Jack and his team plunging into the labyrinth, racing to sit on the throne at the heart of the labyrinth to halt the cataclysmic event that others are hell-bent on seeing come to fruition.
Now, I wasn’t exactly getting all hot and bothered after reading The Two Lost Mountains, it felt a lot to me like a filler novel where Reilly knew where he wanted all the characters to end up to be set up for this novel and just stretched the plot close to breaking point in order to get them there.
I’m pleased to report that I finished this novel on a much more positive note than the previous one. Sure, it is a little predictable and I knew what was going to happen by the end of it but Reilly’s trademark high energy action and breakneck pace kept me turning the pages.
2. Honey Bee – Craig Silvey
This entry’s quite a bit of a thematic and stylistic departure from the previous entries yet it’s more than deserved its spot on this list. Craig Silvey’s Honey Bee follows fourteen-year-old Sam Watson as they climb onto a quiet overpass and attempts to take his own life just as an old man Vic smokes his last cigarette.
As the novel progresses, we learn just what led the two of them to the bridge that fateful night and watch as the bond between Sam and Vic blossoms from a chance meeting into a deep meaningful friendship. It’s one of the best well-developed friendships between characters that I’ve ever seen in commercial fiction.
This is another great novel from Craig Silvey, whose debut work Rhubarb and subsequent follow-up Jasper Jones knocked it out of the park (Jasper Jones is the only novel from my high school English classes that I still have on my bookshelf).
Both Sam and Vic’s character arcs are well thought out, developed, and written in such a way that felt like I was watching two people in front of me as I read it.
1. Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
Coming in at the top spot, no surprises here for anyone that read my review from back in October, we have Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. The novel chronicles the journey of academic turned science teacher turned space cadet Ryland Grace as he travels light-years away from the Earth’s solar system to try and save the planet.
As I said in my review, the entire scientific theory and concepts are grounded and well researched, the action is tense and well written and the character's relationship between Grace and Rocky is second to none in any novel I’ve read during this year.
Andy Weir did a great job keeping the story enjoyable and the scientific terms and jargon uncomplicated to keep me interested without dumbing it down. It doesn’t lose that sense of scientific discovery and wonder that is at the heart of all great sci-fi.
Easily my book of the year, make sure to check it out.
Are there any books you’ve missed out on this year that you want to check out? Let me know down below.
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