Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Best Fiction Releases of 2008

As it now seems to be an obligatory exercise for review sites and magazines, I thought I’d just provide a short, Top-10 list of the best fiction (from all genres) that were released in 2008. It’s been an excellent year for fiction, so it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just ten, but I think I’ve managed to present a balanced and fair selection of this year’s finest. Finding a single novel as the tenth was impossible, so I’ve included three notables for my final selection:

1-3. Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel Trilogy (comprised of The Way of Shadows, Shadow’s Edge and Beyond The Shadows). They take the top spot because they fulfill every criteria that goes into making an excellent read: plotting, characterization, pacing, interest, style, imagination and originality. Weeks does this while also side-stepping or completely avoiding criteria that would have ruined this series (cliché, needless exposition, and - as it’s fantasy – over abundant use of ridiculous, made-up words). A stunning achievement for a first time author. (Orbit Books)

BrentWeeks-WayOfShadows BrentWeeks-ShadowsEdge BrentWeeks-BeyondTheShadows

4. David Baldacci’s Stone Cold. Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return for their third novel, and this time they’re up against two frightening enemies, each with completely different motives and goals, all of which place our intrepid cast in serious danger. It also has a great closing scene which sets up beautifully for Divine Justice, which was released this year, but I haven’t managed to get reviewed yet. (Pan Books)

5-6. Jason Pinter’s The Mark and The Guilty. Just released this year through MIRA, these are the first two outings for new New York journalist hero, Henry Parker. Blending deft, tight plotting with great characters (even if the romantic scenes are a touch cliché and too-sweet), Pinter has proved with these that he’s a thriller writer to keep a very close eye on. (MIRA Books)

Baldacci-StoneCold Pinter-TheMark Pinter-TheGuilty

7. Brett Battles’ The Cleaner. Ticks all the boxes for making an excellent international thriller: betrayal, action, revenge, realistic dialogue and plotting, the occasional moment of levity. Highly recommended, and yet another author to watch closely. (Preface Publishing)

8. Richard North Patterson’s The Race. The most timely of American political thrillers from one of the most gifted author in the genre. Covering a fictional Republican Party primary season (in itself noteworthy, considering the Democrat-as-protagonist bias in political fiction), The Race is filled with plenty of social and political commentary, disguised as a gripping, well-paced thriller novel. Measured arguments (from both sides of the political spectrum) make this far from an opinion piece, but also provides plenty to make the reader think. (Pan Books)

9. Troy Denning’s Invincible. The final volume in the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series, this brings all the plot-strand together into an explosive (and surprisingly, graphically brutal) conclusion. At the same time, it leaves the series wide open, as it’s not clear how things will proceed from here, or how main characters will recover from their various ordeals. (Well, ok, it actually is: Millennium Falcon is out now, and a new series follows, called Fate of the Jedi – with luck, we’ll be able to bring you reviews of these as they become available). (Arrow Books)


10. John Sandford’s Phantom Prey (Simon & Schuster); Mike Lawson’s Dead on Arrival (Harper Collins); Terry Pratchett’s Making Money (Corgi)

Sandford-PhantomPreyLawson-DeadOnArrival TerryPratchett-MakingMoney

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