The Best Books of 2018

Women fighting for equality. A time traveler stuck in the past. A universe on the brink of an endless war. These stories captivated readers in 2018, filling our imaginations with far-off planets, technologies we can only dream of, and societies that showcase the best and worst of humanity. This list represents the stories I couldn’t stop thinking about, and the authors whose brilliance stayed with me long after I finished the final page.

NOTE: I was provided free copies of some of these books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

THE CALCULATING STARS

By Mary Robinette Kowal
Published by Tor Books

Spanning the gamut of physics, mathematics and space travel, The Calculating Stars is an alternate history of the space race, as humanity attempts to ensure their survival following a catastrophic global event. With a brilliantly rendered protagonist and a group of dedicated women pilots and mathematicians, this ode to female empowerment is a wonderful read that will leave you feeling inspired.

TIME’S CHILDREN

By D.B. Jackson
Published by Angry Robot

Time’s Children is a tour-de-force, setting a fascinating tale of magic and intrigue amidst a world filled with dark corners and creatures who are not to be trusted. I loved every part of this book, and applaud the author on creating a compelling story filled with brilliantly rendered scenes, settings and details that made the world come alive. Prepare to be swept away by the tides of this masterful story. Received from NetGalley.

THE FATED SKY

By Mary Robinette Kowal
Published by Tor Books

The Fated Sky is a rare thing — a sequel that is just as wonderful as its predecessor. Dr. Elma York is a relatable, multi-faceted, brilliant character who fills the book with life. The cast of supporting characters remains just as compelling, and Kowal treats their trials and tribulations with care, showing the individual experiences of traveling millions of miles from home. I love this series and it’s my deep hope that we’ve not seen the last of it.

VOX

By Christina Dalcher
Published by Berkley

Vox is the kind of novel that slams into you, showing you how terrible the world can be. Dalcher’s novel demands to be read. You’ll feel the frustration, anger, and pain of our protagonist, and you’ll be ready to scream along with her. This is our generation’s Handmaid’s Tale. It’s a book that compels us to wake up, look around, and do everything we can to prevent this horrifying dystopia from coming true. Received from NetGalley.

EMBERS OF WAR

By Gareth Powell
Published by Titan Books

A literary space opera set in the aftermath of a universal conflict, Embers of War drives the reader toward a startling destination and inspiring finish. By combining a masterful prose style featuring multiple narrators with a richly devised word-building blueprint, Powell has created a cast of outstanding characters whose combined actions examine humanity and our place in the universe.

TEMPER

By Nicky Drayden
Published by Harper Voyager

Temper reveals a brilliant world filled with magic, both good and evil, that paints a vivid portrait of a deeply flawed society. Drayden’s use of class structure examines the struggles of the real world and the implications of poverty on a child’s future. Complete with an epic clash between religion and science, and a fast-paced narrative, Temper is a must read.

SIDE LIFE

By Steve Toutonghi
Published by Soho Press, Inc.

A wild journey through infinite possible realities, Side Life will leave you reeling, contemplating the existence of reality and the many ways your life could have turned out differently. It starts with a simple enough story and ends as a warped and twisted take on life and the reality of this man who no longer knows who or where he is within the fabric of the universe. It’s a truly thought-provoking, mind-blowing set of circumstances, journeys, and revelations that will leave you feeling a bit out of sorts with the infinite expanse of time and its possibilities.

MECHA SAMURAI EMPIRE 

By Peter Tieryas
Published by Ace

Mecha Samurai Empire is a beautiful complexity, weaving alternate history, military fiction, cultural appreciation, and a coming-of-age story into a well-rounded novel that demands to be read. It’s more than epic battles between mechanical warriors, though those are exciting and well-done. It’s a story about good versus evil and a young man’s place in the world as he grapples with the realities of war and the inevitable losses that result. It’s a story with heart, and I appreciated every page of it. Received from NetGalley.

FREE CHOCOLATE

By Amber Royer
Published by Angry Robot

Free Chocolate is everything I could have wanted and more, complete with intricate and dramatic characters, dozens of twisting plot lines that lead to a slam-bang finish, and an absurd resource at the center of all the drama: chocolate. Say the words “Space Opera” and I’m there with the popcorn, ready for the ride. This is an outstanding debut novel in a universe I can’t wait to dive deeper into.

THERE BEFORE THE CHAOS

By K.B. Wager
Published by Orbit Books

There Before the Chaos epitomizes the space opera genre, weaving a complex universe with a powerful protagonist and a story that utilizes political intrigue, space travel, and a strong history. The novel is an extension of an existing universe, but it stands mightily on its own. Wagers is an expert at dialogue and discourse, taking you directly into the action that unfolds after the dust of war has settled. Prepare to contemplate the trappings of power and the consequences of actions that could put an end to the universe. Received from NetGalley.

BLOODY ROSE

By Nicholas Eames
Published by Orbit Books

Bloody Rose is the most fun I’ve had all year. It’s a great equation. Take a well-done fantasy novel filled with monsters, battles, and arena brawls, add in a band of rock star warriors that are worshipped throughout the land and you’ve got Bloody Rose. Everyone from the group brings something different to the table, whether it be god-like fighting abilities, intense magic, conjuration, or simply the fresh eyes of a newbie. I enjoyed everything about this book and urge you to read it. Received from NetGalley.

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