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Best of 2015

January 2, 2016

Like I’d know. The ones I liked best, anyway.

I’m sick, which sucks. I can’t speak, which I’m sure everyone is very happy about. But I can TYPE. Neener.

So here are my favorite new reads of 2015, in no particular order, but grouped together by whether they came out in 2015 or before.

The 2015 Books

Spider-Man: Spider-Verse: Yeah, I realize I’m in a minority with this one. It’s a crossover and it’s not the best one and there’s a lot of repetition in it (chase, hide, run, hide, run, hide), but there’s a joy to it that Dan Slott always brings to his work. There’s Spider-Gwen, who surprised me with how invested I got in her so quickly. There’s Silk, whom people have called a Mary Sue, which is sexist for “a female character who does things well.” There’s Noir Spidey and Spider-Ham and movie Spideys and my old friend Miguel O’Hara, Spidey 2099. So many Spideys! A special nod to the head to its lead-in title Superior Spider-Man, where Doc Ock takes over Spidey’s body. Also super-fun.

The end of Fables: Bill Willingham proved himself a dick over and over again, but he mostly kept it to con attendances and the intro pages of the book. (Seriously: look at them. They’re just flooded with hatred for the female characters.) It’s sad to see Fables go, but it was time, and while there was a bit of a pacing issue with the last few books, the series wrapped up really well.

Sex Criminals is a book that writes about sex the way sexually active adults actually talk about and have it. Also, there is some sort of plot going on that I’m a little fuzzy on, but I have faith we’ll get to it at some point. The premise: two people who have the ability to literally stop time when they orgasm meet and fall in love, but not everyone is happy when they decide to rob a bank to save a library. The second book delves deeply into depression and still managed to make me laugh aloud almost more than any other book this year.

All-New X-Men crossed over with Miles Morales this year, so I’m all about that as well. I think the whole series has been very well done. In case you haven’t heard: the original X-Men are pulled into the present in a very stupid ploy to make sure that the current X-Men get a giant kick in the pants about all their recent actions. And then they’re stuck there, being innocent, wide-eyed optimistic X-Men in a post-grimdark world. Yeah. It’s great. Also, it means we get all the Jean Grey we want, which is all of it. Jean can be such a jerk, and yet she is still incredibly lovable and awesome. Aww yeah, Jean Grey.

Saga keeps being awesome too.

David Levithan had two great books this year: the companion to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, called Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. It’s written as a script, which you’d think I’d hate, and yet here we are. He also wrote a companion to Every Day, called Another Day, which gives us Rhiannon’s perspective.  It gives us a look into why people don’t leave bad relationships (answer: they’re not bad ENOUGH), and that’s an important thing to have in YA.

Ms. Marvel keeps being awesome, and I’m about to read all the rest of the series and I am so excited. And by “about to,” I mean, “uh…in the next few weeks?” Beginning of the year is tough. I’m happy that everyone I’ve recommended Ms. Marvel to has fallen in love with her. Because she’s awesome.

This Side of Home by Renee Watson deals in part with gentrification, and that’s another topic I’m glad to have read about in YA this year. A strong debut for teen readers who want to deal with important questions written in simple, fast-paced prose.

Moira Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season is, I believe, another debut, but lyrical and haunting. I’m not usually a magical realism person (or big on reading about teens who smoke) but this book grabbed me and would not let go. For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell. Definitely the weirdest book I’ve had to explain to people this year: It’s a metanarrative about a book series within a book that’s a lot like Harry Potter but um, then the author decided to write her own version of the fake series from the book she wrote where a character writes fan fiction about it. Yeah. I’m told that Harry Potter fan fic readers will get even more out of the book than I did, and I already thought it was amazing. Not perfect, but amazing.

Mo Willems put out I Really Like Slop, a great book about trying new things. Elephant & Piggie 4ever.

Oh, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s One Day, The End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories. Great for about four-year-olds and up, you get stories like “One day I ran away from home. Then I came back. The end.” Meanwhile the art directs you to what really happened between those words, which you can make up for your child or your child can make up for you.

Books I read in 2015 but weren’t published in 2015, also they are not rereads otherwise we’d be here all day

Rat Queens! Something I love, something my daughter loves. The me part is the weird part, though. I handed her the book and said, “This is about lesbians in a D&D world” and she was all over it. (It was a very limited description, but that’s how I hook her.) I, however, don’t care about fantasy, so this raunchy little tale surprised me with its ability to immediately win me over. I read the first issue last year and I’m super-excited for the next volume to finally get to me.

Neal Shusterman’s Undivided. The “dystology” ends as strongly as it began, or close enough that it makes no never-mind.

An Elephant & Piggie book I missed when I was out the librarian game: My New Friend is So Fun! Not every Elephant & Piggie books gets five stars from me, but almost all of them do.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really impressed the heck out of me. I laughed so much. I liked Greg despite his flaws. I was impressed by how it shows illness as something that can be tangential to one’s life, because most books put it front and center. Good bookend for The Fault in Our Stars but I don’t feel like they should be compared so much as contrasted.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead is maybe a misleading title for a very smart, very emotional book. Told in alternate perspectives–including one in second person–it’s primarily about a bunch of middle schoolers who are trying to figure themselves out. One girl was in an almost-fatal accident as a child and can’t stop wondering if there’s something about her life that’s meant to do. Another has a boy she likes who wants to trade pictures with her that grow increasingly daring (and increasingly hurt my stomach, so real). A boy is dealing with the loss of a family member. A teen is running away. It’s a wonderful book, and I need to see if my predecessor ordered it because if not, it’s going to be my first middle-school order of the year.

The Martian! Was as great as I was told, and as good as the movie but with more techie stuff in it.

Octavia Butler’s Unexpected Stories were very unexpected to me: I didn’t realize one was a prequel of sorts to Survivor. The other is more like the middle of the Patternist series, although it isn’t set there as far as I can tell.

Caroline Kepnes’s You is the book that should’ve gotten huge after Gone Girl, not the inferior The Girl on the Train. It’s dark, it’s smart, it has the best (and most terrifying) usage of social media I’ve seen in a book. You should totally read this book.

Joe Hill’s Locke & Key was a super-great comic series I should’ve read when it came out. (I think I got it confused with something else so kept passing it by.) It was my introduction to Stephen King’s son and will not be the last I’ve seen of him.

The Day the Crayons Quit is a super-cute picture book that also came out during that period I wasn’t a children’s librarian. A group of us read it aloud during story, and everyone from age 7 to age 38 enjoyed it very much.

Near Death is a comic about a hitman who has a near-death experience and decides he’s going to try to atone for his previous sins. Not everyone thinks this is a great idea. Strong first volume, slightly weaker conclusion, but I really liked it and its conflicted, flawed antihero.

Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book is a slow-burn of a time travel novel that takes place in near-future England and way-long-ago England. Time travel is used to study historical events, and university politics has caused one administrator to push what might be a dangerous trip just before the holidays. As historian Kivrin deals with a malfunction in the past, the present deals with trying to get her home and a big problem of their own. In part almost a mystery, the twists can be subtle and expectations are alternately fulfilled and subverted. So good.

Oh, and I think I got past where I’d originally read to in Peter David’s second X-Factor run and since my husband got me Marvel Unlimited, as soon as I knock out a few library books that were lingering from last year, that’s what I’m heading right back into. Aw yeah.

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