Welcome to part 3 of the series in which I’ll be giving short reviews of all 50-something books I’ve read this year, in blocks of 10! I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll finish off the post with my highlight from these 10 books.
Crazy Busy, by Kevin de Young – 6/10 … a book that was somewhat disappointing – focusing more on diagnosing busy-ness in people’s lives rather than offering a great deal in terms of solutions. The author was honest about not having it all sorted, and that did show, but it doesn’t really make for the most helpful book in the world.
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons – 10/10 … here we are, at the first 10/10! This was a phenomenal book, science fiction at its best. There was clear imaginative drive from the author as he spun his interplanetary novel, but what was also nice to see was a willingness to experiment with literary style. Inspired by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Simmons wove together several shorter stories to form a singular, compelling tapestry.
The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons – 10/10 … I challenge you to find a worthier sequel than this second of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion novels. Perhaps less daring than its forerunner in terms of literary style, but arguably even more ambitious in terms of the scope of the plot. I have books 3 and 4 in this series sitting on my bedroom floor post-Christmas, and I can’t wait to get into them.
The Case for Grace, by Lee Strobel – 7/10 … the latest major instalment in a generally strong series by Strobel, this is another book that aims to convince non-Christians through interviews and true stories. In this book, Strobel asks people for their stories of how their lives were turned around by God, with a huge variety of events coming out. It was a good book, but I’m definitely not the target audience!
Gardens of the Moon, by Steven Erikson – 9/10 … here we go. My fantasy revelation of the year, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Epic fantasy of titanic proportions, this series has been consistently stunning. This first book is actually not the best in the series, but it’s a stunning opener, throwing the reader head first into the world of the Malazan. If you like fantasy and you haven’t read this series, get on it. Now.
Planetwise, by Dave Bookless – 7/10 … this is a book on a topic that I think Christians can definitely engage more with: the environment. Bookless (most ironic name for an author?) is clearly passionate about the subject, and attacks it in a very Biblical way. Whilst important, I felt like the book was lacking the spark that would have made it truly brilliant, but an interesting start for anyone looking to grapple with these issues.
2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson – 6/10 … the third sci-fi book in this block of 10, it unfortunately had nothing on Hyperion. It was an ambitious book, envisioning the future of our solar system, mingling lots of different narrative styles in short chapters. It was an interesting book, but I could never really get into it.
The Gender Agenda, by Lis Goddard and Clare Hendry – 8/10 … for any Christians looking at both sides of the ‘women in leadership’ debate, this is a brilliant place to start. Two women, one on each side of the debate, send emails back and forth looking at the different issues and going through relevant Bible passages around it. Whatever you think of their arguments, it’s clear that both authors are loving, honest and genuinely living out their faith, and as well as a book about a debate, it’s also a powerful example of Christian unity across theological differences.
Deadhouse Gates, by Steven Erikson – 8/10 … The second Malazan book swiftly followed the first, thanks to eBay, and it was also excellent. Perhaps it is somewhat difficult to follow at times, but it plunges you deeper into the world, showing more and more of this incredible fantasy reality. Tough, raw, brutal, stunning, Erikson continues to impress.
House of Hades, by Rick Riordan – 8/10 … I’m a big fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books – I have been for years. In this penultimate instalment in the Heroes of Olympus series, Riordan continues to write extremely entertaining books that brilliantly intertwine classical mythology (Greek and Roman) and modern teenage life.
There were some really excellent books in this group of 10, but the highlight has to be Hyperion, by Dan Simmons. Ingenious, powerful, and intriguing, this is one of the best sci-fi books I have ever read. Honourable mentions have to go to The Fall of Hyperion, for being equally excellent, and Gardens of the Moon, for kick-starting my interest in one of the greatest fantasy series I have ever read.