Some are dystopia and some are magic realism and some are from light years away. These are my favorite novels that just don't neatly fit into a category.
Let me start by saying Station Eleven was the best book I read in 2014. Arthur, a famous actor, dies on stage while playing King Lear the same night a pandemic begins that kills 99.9% of the population. We follow Kirsten, who shared the stage with Arthur that night, 20 years in the future. But, through flashbacks, we meet a paparrazo-paramedic, 2 ex-wives and a son, and a best friend. It's in these characters that the novel finds its strength. Normally, I can't wait to get through chapters vacant of the lead but not so with Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel gives us 6 characters we become totally invested in. It was short listed for the National Book Award for good reason! - randy's October Staff Pick, 2014
First, I thought The Nickel Boys would be my favorite read of 2019. Then The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was recommended, and I devoured it--best mystery I've ever read. Now comes along Bunny. Wow! At no moment was I quite sure what I was reading. I first thought it was a Meangirls/Heathers mashup, but then it quickly became Carrie via The Secrect History as seen through My Pretty Pony. It doesn't stop there, but I will so you can experience this gloriously fun romp of a satire. I loved it! - randy
What did I just read? Part post-apocalyptic nightmare, part ghost story, part Hatfields & McCoys, and totally awesome! - randy
Gary Shteyngart must be the most prescient writer today. In the near future, it's happened. China owns all of our credit, and they're ready to cut their losses. Perhaps we're in this position because everyone that has a vlog is considered a serious journalist - even if your only documenting your sexual exploits; people wear onion-skin pants (hello Lululemon); and the verb "to speak" has been lost due to the fact that we only text one another. Laugh-out-loud funny! - randy
Hello! A thought provoking read with so much packed into its 110 pages. I've said it before, I love a book that leaves me wondering what just happened. I will definitely revisit this and soon!
Wow! I can’t count how many times I said Wow! as I was reading The Power. This is an in your face look at what the world would be if women developed the ability to generate electricity with their bodies. It’s more than that though. It’s a look at what power is, how power is used, and why power is abused. Here’s a hint: there’s no one, easy answer. And it’s a fast, thrilling read with an ending that totally flips the script. - randy
I read Dune several years ago expecting it to be a chore. It was not. I came across a copy with the new cover, which is awesome, and decided it was time to read it again. Yes! Twice as great as the first time. One of the best messianic stories ever written. - randy
What a wonderfully original book! What do you do if one night trees erupt from the ground destroying all infrastructure, making all of England a forest, a dense forest? Adrien wants to wait for the army and the government to fix everything. Hannah wants to take her son, Seb, west to find her brother, who shares her love of all things nature, and celebrate the earth's victory. Fate brings these 3 disparate characters together and they head west ultimately ending up in Ireland looking for Adrien's wife but more importantly finding Adrien's destiny. Along the way, Shaw creates a great supporting cast including some creatures that may or may not actually exist. I loved it! - randy
The Crane Wife is a wonderful tale about love. Not syrupy, sappy love but rather the myriad of necessary bonds people create and destroy with one another. George is the father of Amanda, grand pere of JP, ex-husband of Clare, and fiance of Kumiko. Ness wraps these relationships in a wonderful folk tale about the destructive and creative powers of a Volcano and it’s need to be forgiven by the Crane Wife who in turn is bound by the forces of the Volcano. Five stars for sure! - randy
I was more than pleasantly surprised. While it is scary, it is a quite impressive feat of storytelling. Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with It, the Losers are summoned back to Derry, ME to finish It off. King does a beautiful job of weaving these 2 timelines together, and along the way, he shares tales from Derry’s past that seamlessly carry the story forward. A really beautiful story, if not horrifying at moments. - randy
What a great read! A gripping tale of survival and rebuilding following a pandemic killing off 95% of humans. The story is engaging and the characters are spot on. I never saw the end coming and loved it. - randy
This was an eerily fun read. What if big brother was as small as an ant? Patients at a private asylum deep in the woods are all from the world of either Foresight Strategy or Strategic Forecasting. This means they are smart people, deeply depressed (and many have gone insane) because they are paid to look into the future and it ain't good. 1984 meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. - randy
A total joy ride! It’s the near future and the climate is collapsing so people are retreating into a virtual world known as OASIS. Chock full of ‘80’s and early ‘90’s pop culture—think playing Pac Man or Joust while listening to Billy Idol or Oingo Boingo, Ready Player One is super fun. - randy
This is the story of broken hearted Phil who takes out his bitterness on the Inner Hornerites when they spill over the border because Inner Horner is only big enough for 1 of its 6 citizens. Phil ends up deposing the president of Out Horner and goes about dismantling the Inner Hornerites. Saunders'creative genius shines bright in this fable that unfortunately resembles our current situation a little too closely. - randy
What a wonderful book. The characters' lives are so tragic, but you feel their strength and resilience throughout. And the worlds created are magnificent in both their beauty and their dread. Very Murakamiesque. - randy
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The Lost Time Accidents is Waldy's letter to a woman with whom he is obsessed. The letter is his family's history with the Lost Time Accidents, and the experimentation by Waldy's great uncle, The Black Timekeeper, with Holocaust victims. Along the way we meet his two reclusive aunts, his father - a science fiction writer who unwillingly becomes inspiration for a new religion based on the Lost Time Accidents, and Mrs. Haven, wife of the founder of this religion, and the intended recipient of this letter. This is not about time travel. It's about the hold families have on one another. And it's a great read! randy's February Staff Pick, 2017
A deliciously crazy adventure! The chase is fun but it's Ollie's and Maja's internal struggles with their pasts and futures that are really at the heart of this story. I love the use of magic as a window into the insides, the very metaphorical insides. - randy
All of a sudden, injured or sick parts of our bodies begin to illuminate. We meet a group of wonderful characters as a journal is passed along to each of them one by one chronicling the Illumination. It's a great exploration of what it means to be human and how we are related with one another. A great read and an original idea for a story. - randy