The very first book I read in 2012 also happened to be my first ever Stephen King novel, not counting my feeble attempts to read Cujo when I was eight (didn't quite make it past the first two pages). I've never considered myself a fan of horror, despite being a fan of Thomas Harris (or more aptly his character, Hannibal Lecter), which explains why I'd avoided Stephen King books like the plague. That is until I found out that he also wrote in my favorite genre, science fiction. 11/22/63 is just such a book, an 800-page monster of a novel that tells the story of a man who travels back in time to stop the assassination of U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, in a bid to better the future. It also has elements of historical fiction and alternate history, and should appeal to fans of those genres.
The Rise of Nine
The third book of the I am Number Four series continues the adventures of the six remaining Gardes from Lorien as they develop their legacies in preparation for an inevitable showdown with the Mogadorians. I got into the series after watching (and being pleasantly surprised by) the movie adaptation of the first book. While they might not be as popular with today's kids as the likes of Twilight and The Hunger Games, these books still appeal to that same part of me that loved reading Animorphs back in the day. Admittedly though, it is with this book that it becomes safe to wonder whether the series might be running out of steam. Hopefully the authors would be able to wrap everything up in the next book or two, without trying to milk the whole thing dry.
Just like The Hunger Games, Divergent was another work of dystopian fiction that managed to strike a chord with fans of the ever-popular YA genre. One of the things I loved about it was its post-apocalyptic setting, a futuristic Chicago were everything is split between five ideology-based factions. The second book expands upon that world, all the while revealing more back stories, key players, and of course government conspiracies. And while not as engaging as the first book, Insurgent still does a decent job of setting the stage for the third and final book. I can't wait to see how it all translates onto the big screen when the movies come out.
Wool (Omnibus Edition)
And right here is another book-to-movie adaptation that couldn't possibly come soon enough. Every now and again, a book/movie/TV series comes out of nowhere and simply blows your mind away. In 2012, that book was Wool by science-fiction writer, Hugh Howey. It is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the remnants of humanity have been forced underground after the Earth's surface becomes uninhabitable. The omnibus edition brings together the first five books in the series, and we follow the lives of the inhabitants of Silo 17 (an underground city of sorts) as they slowly uncover a vast conspiracy that could very well lead to the next great uprising. It is one of those rare stories that you just have to experience for yourself, in order to understand its true magnitude.
The Casual Vacancy
I've been a Harry Potter fan ever since I'd read the opening lines of the first book. From the very beginning, I was captivated by J.K. Rowling's writing style and her dark sense of humor, both of which carry over nicely into her first book for adults. The closest parallel I can draw to The Casual Vacancy is the TV show, Desperate Housewives. Both take place in small communities, and their events are set into motion by the death of a prominent member of the community. Here, it is a parish councilor called Barry Fairbrother that dies, and we get to see, through the course of the novel, the impact his death has on the residents of Pagford. Ms. Rowling has definitely proven here that she can write whatever see very well chooses, and write it to near perfection. But if you're looking for the same sense of magic and wonder found in Harry Potter, then kindly look elsewhere, because The Casual Vacancy paints a very crude and realistic picture of modern-day life.
And the winner is...
Wool (Omnibus Edition)
If 2011 was the year I became a self-published writer, then 2012 must be the year that I discovered the wealth of talent in the vast pool of self-published writers. I read Wool #1 back in June, after hearing nothing but good things about the series as a whole. And I was blown away by one of the best endings I've come across in years. The remaining four books in the omnibus where just as mind-blowing (if not more so). The characters are well-written, and the story itself is very visual, painting a vivid picture of an underground city and the desolation that has kept its inhabitants from returning to the surface. You can almost feel the claustrophobia of their hallways, and the strain they go through ascending the steps of the stairwell that links the many levels of the Silo. I really hope Ridley Scott does the movie adaptation the justice it deserves, and that we don't have to wait 10 years to see it.