2019 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2019-published works, which people have read and recommend to other Filers.

There will be no tallying of recommendations done in this thread; its purpose is to provide a source of recommendations for people who want to find something to read which will be Hugo-eligible next year.

You don’t have to stop recommending works in Pixel Scrolls, please don’t! But it would be nice if you also post here, to capture the information for other readers.

The Suggested Format for posts is:

  • Title, Author, Published by / Published in (Anthology, Collection, Website, or Magazine + Issue)
  • Hugo Category: (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Graphic Novel, etc)
  • link (if available to read/view online)
  • optional “Brief, spoiler-free description of story premise:”
  • optional “What I liked and didn’t like about it:”
  • (Please rot-13 any spoilers.)

There is a permalink to this thread in the blog header.

319 thoughts on “2019 Recommended SF/F List

  1. Have you heard of the Hilda animated series on Netflix? Did you know that it’s based on a graphic novel series? It’s been running since 2010, featuring much of the same adventures of young Hilda and the Scandinavian folklore-inspired world of Trolberg. On a whim I decided to check out Pearson’s newest installment, Hilda and the Mountain King (Flying Eye Books), and wow. Was not expecting the strong emotional reaction I had to this story, especially as someone who had not read the other comics. From what I could gather, this is the saga’s darkest book, picking up from Book 5’s cliffhanger which saw Hilda turned into a troll, kidnapped and swapped with a troll child that her mother Johanna finds herself taking care of. One notable difference between the Netflix show and the comic series is that the latter feels rougher, more willing to push the boundaries of what is ostensibly a children’s comic, both thematically and tonally. We get deep into the history of Trolberg as Pearson fully explores the thorniness of the need to “keep the trolls out.” I’m only thinking about this now as I type it, and I don’t know if Pearson intended it, but this exploration feels rather timely. It helps to give the book an aspect that appeals to adults, along with Pearson’s ability to not talk down to his readers and the persistent thread of parenthood, of mothers who would do anything for their children. May very well end up on my ballot.

    Amazon; B&N; Publisher

  2. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

    Novel

    An engaging modern riff on a classic Machen occult horror story, this will appeal to fans of botany, dogs, and gradually increasing threat.

  3. +1 to The Twisted Ones. I just finished it, and thought it was wonderful. Oor Wombat is a master at depicting perfectly ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Also there’s a lot of humor alongside the horror in this book, not snark necessarily but just finding the absurdity in some of the tropes she’s dealing with. It’s delightful.

  4. DP WATCH

    So, The Lighthouse.

    I’ve been talking up (read: cheerleading) this film on File 770 well before it came out, because its mere existence excited me; an indie, A24-distributed film starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, directed by the man who brought us The VVitch, filmed in black-and-white and set in a confined location, taking cues from dark fantasy? I was all in. Now, having finally seen it, I’m happy to report that it’s met my expectations.

    I wish I could say what qualifies this film as fantasy. I’d like you to find that out for yourself. I will say that this aspect of the film’s genre is more…ambiguous than I was expecting. It’s one of those ostensible fantasy films whose fantastical imagery is entirely reliant on the subjective view of the protagonist. And usually the protagonist is going, slowly but surely, absolutely insane. You can just as well see the surreal aspects of the film as occurring solely within Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson)’s mind.

    That said, I think The Lighthouse is still fair game for consideration. Throughout the film there’s this grimy, overpowering sense of a supernatural otherworldliness. If The VVitch was a Puritan’s tale modernized, then this film is some sort of perverted sea shanty. It’s a horror film that’s less about “scares” and more about getting under the audience’s skin by increasing the level of discomfort until it all boils over. That’s largely due to the relationship between the two characters, a trainwreck built on skewed dynamics of power, secrets, and possible attraction, amicable one second and at each other’s throats the next. The light within the titular lighthouse seems to draw in the two men, with Tom Wake (Dafoe) being extremely protective of it and Winslow wanting in, wanting access to its secrets. It describes their entire relationship.

    One of the best films of the year, hands down. Still a mainstay on my ballot. Fair warning: this movie gets extremely gross. It’s a Hard R. There are moments of levity, though – it has a surprisingly palpable sense of humor to it. It probably needed to.

  5. Jade War, by Fonda Lee

    Novel (second in a series)

    On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade. Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, and confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers.

    Jade War is more ambitious and more expansive than Jade City, exploring more of the world, more of the issues, and more of the growing problems in Kekon. This also makes the book more diffuse; while there is something of an overarching plot, it lacks the focus of the great Clan War of the first book. Nonetheless, the story does not lack for action or interest, and it’s worth following for the characters alone. That’s saying something when the protagonists are sometimes awful; the book does not flinch from the fact that they are criminals and killers. One does something so unforgivably awful that I completely despise him now, and another tacitly condones his action. Keeping the reader invested in the characters after something like that is a difficult thing to manage, but Fonda Lee pulls it off.

  6. Russian Doll Season One, for your further consideration (video contains spoilers but it’s also an in-depth look of why the show’s so great)

  7. Der-Shing Holmer’s webcomic Mare Internum is ending for real this time, and what a ride it’s been. If you’re looking for a heartbreaking, hard sci-fi tale of self-discovery I highly recommend it. Consider it for your Best Graphic Story ballots.

    Starts here.

    TW: Scenes of attempted suicide/suicidal ideation, implied sexual assault

  8. Stealing Worlds, Karl Schroeder, novel, Tor (June, 2019).

    This is an old-fashioned very hard SF work taking place in the fairly near future. It involves mixed-reality larping, blockchains, and autonomous corporations. The main character, Sura Neelin, is a cat-burglar.

    I was confused at one point, but I like the complete story.

  9. Best Dramatic Presentation, Long

    Terminator: Dark Fate

    I know this movie has had a mixed reception and isn’t doing well at the box office, but I loved it. It makes abundantly clear, if we didn’t already know, that the Terminator films are not about Ah-nuld or John Connor–they’re Sarah’s story. Here, I think Sarah gets the resolution and send-off she deserves.

    Best Dramatic Presentation, Short

    She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Season 4 (Netflix)

    There’s some impressive character work done on (almost) all the main characters this year, and at the end, Etheria is thrust into a wider and more science-fictional universe. Standout eps: “Princess Scorpia” (probably my favorite episode of the season), “Mer-Mysteries,” “Hero,” and the finale, “Destiny Parts 1 and 2.”

  10. Best Novel and/or Lodestar for Best YA

    Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

    I’m not sure it’ll surprise anyone that this expansion of Cat Pictures Please is delightful, but I’m going to tell everyone anyway. I did the classic start-reading-late-evening-unable-to-stop-til-finished thing with it.

    This novel expands the ideas from the short significantly by telling the story of Steph, a teen girl whose mother drags her around the country in a series of apparently paranoid escapes from Steph’s father. Within a few pages you want someone to swoop in and look after Steph so well-drawn a character she is, and luckily her one escape is a small community on CatNet, a mysteriously well-moderated social site. Shenanigans ensue, but so does some really heartwarming characters and relationships. It’s not twee though, there’s a good sense of drama and a strong pace to the story.
    Behind all that there’s some interesting stuff to think about, like the differences between online and RL identities, and the ethics of AI.
    It could qualify in either YA or Novel, I suspect I’ll nominate it in YA but either way I really think this is going to do well.

  11. Novel (and Series)

    Silver by Lina Nagata (part of the Inverted Frontier series, sequel to the Nanotech Succession series)

    I already recced Edges and this is the second and (for now) concluding novel in this sub-series. Nagata says there may be more, presumably if it does well enough. It concludes the events that kick-off towards the end of Edges, and shows that this setting is a great combo of hard SF ideas, Big Objects, nanotech, and more.

    Interestingly this turns out to also be a continuation of sorts of Nagata’s earlier novel Memory. I don’t think not having read Memory will affect your enjoyment of this book, because I’ve not read it myself, although I had read her Asimov’s story Theories of Flight in the same setting.

    Therefore this and Edges also create eligibility for the shared world of The Nanotech Succession/Memory/Inverted Frontier. I’ve yet to read them all so can’t say if I recommend them, but based on these two I’m going to have to try to get to them soon!

  12. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH: Short Form

    Look, I don’t know how closely Watchmen (HBO) dovetails with its source material, but I am willing to say that much, if not all, of the controversy surrounding it is misguided, especially in regards to a continuation of a story that was already political. I feel comfortable saying this, since “This Extraordinary Being” is one of the best pieces of media period I’ve seen this year. Every piece of it – the direction, writing, acting, story as part of the larger series, story as a standalone – is finely executed, fully bringing us into the mind of Hooded Justice. I don’t even want to say anymore – just watch it anyway you can. (TW: flashing images)

    I’ll also toss in a mention here of The Mandalorian (Disney+), with its third outing “Chapter 3: The Sin”. I greatly enjoyed this as someone who was never really into Star Wars and who has grown exasperated with its modern-day omnipresence (and all the discourse surrounding it), so take that as high enough praise. There’s more here than Baby Yoda, I swear.

  13. “The Athena Club”, Theodora Goss
    BEST SERIES
    Premise: mostly-known female “monsters” from genre (Catherine the puma from “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, Rapacini’s daughter (Beatrice), the “Bride of Frankenstein” (Justine), and a byblow of the alter-ego Hyde) coalesce around Jekyll’s daughter to deal with the real monsters: the men (and occasional women) who created and are trying to use them. I raved here about the 1st of these a couple of years ago; the 2nd could maybe have been trimmed a bit, but the 3rd wraps up the narrative hooks from the 2nd and is a great story. (2 adds a number of other genre “monsters”; I don’t think 3 does, but I’m not up enough on 19th-century fiction to be sure.) The latest book ends with a six-months-after postscript rather than a cliffhanger, and one capsule review refers to a trilogy — so look at it now, as it may not be eligible after 2020.
    titles:
    The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
    European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman
    The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl

  14. Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K. J. Parker

    Novel

    A siege is approaching, and the city has little time to prepare. The people have no food and no weapons. To save the city will take a miracle, but what it has is an engineer.

    Honestly … I had mixed feelings about this one, and it took me a long time to decide to put it here on the recommended page. But I did enjoy it and there’s a lot to like about it. Basically, the first half had me engrossed. Desperate straits, clever strategies, political plots and counterplots, all great, dramatic fun. Then we finally find out who is behind the siege of the city and why and … it’s all a little too neat and coincidental without really having enough depth of theme to back it up. It tries to go more deeply into its ideas about prejudice and empire, but it never really gets there. Ultimately, did I enjoy this book? Yes. Would I recommend this book? Maybe. Do I think it’s among the best of the year? No, not really. But on the strength of my answer to the first question, I’ll put it here anyway.

  15. Short story: “Inheritance” by Elise Stephens, Escape Pod Episode 702
    (This is a podcast, but you can also read the transcript.)

    Three siblings have parts of their recently deceased grandmother’s memories grafted into their own minds. For all three, this gives them some new skills but comes with some quirks they didn’t expect. For one, the main character, it also offers an unexpected opportunity for healing.

    This was a poignant story, and while the technology was interesting, the family relationships were front-and-center.

  16. For Graphic Story: Cosmoknights (Book One) by Hannah Templer. Originally published online in March (available here), later published in print in September.

    Set in a neo-medieval interstellar world where “cosmoknights” fight in jousts to win princesses, protagonist Pan gets roped into the orbit of two rebels working on the inside to disrupt the system.

    Stumbled upon this on a 2019 best-of comic list and it caught my interest, especially since it was free-to-read online. Overall I found this to be a rollicking, engaging action story with that I’d definitely read more of. At times it gets a little too overt with its “fight the patriarchy” theme for my personal tastes – I found the more quieter scenes where the toxicity of the jousts wears down on the characters much more effective. Worth a look; recommended if you’re a fan of She-Ra on Netflix.

  17. Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

    Novel

    Cyberpunk-ish thriller about a young woman on the run who stumbles into a world where hackers and AIs are using live-action video games to try to create new economies as the old ones continue to crumble.

    This book is bursting with ideas, ranging from the fascinating to the terrifying. I loved the taxi company “owned” by eagles–run by an AI that identifies with the eagles, and works to make money to protect their habitat. Unfortunately, the plot suffers a bit from a lack of focus. But I still thought it was reasonably interesting. If you don’t mind an excess of entertaining exposition that occasionally distracts from the story, this is well worth checking out.

  18. @Xtifr. Bought based on your description. Sounds right up my alley, including the “excess of entertaining exposition’. Thank you.

  19. @N
    Definitely on my to watch list. Previous episodes have been on my ballot. Possibly on more people’s radar now because of the cancelation/resurrection.

  20. @N

    I’m in the middle of watching it. Just finished episode 6, and it had me on the edge of my seat, despite my having read the book and knowing {redacted} wasn’t going to die. I’m liking what they’re doing with the split storylines this season, giving everyone a chance to shine, and I think Frankie Adams (as Bobbie Draper) has improved tremendously as an actor. I’ll have to judge the entire season later, but ep 6 was a nail-biter.

  21. A first-season episode of the Expanse won the Hugo in 2017, and another episode was a finalist this year. Chance of it making the ballot next year seems fairly decent.

  22. The first book and series are also previous finalists. The series is eligible again so books and show might give each other a boost.

  23. Worth noting that the Expanse novel series is due to wrap up with book 9 next year, and a finalist appearance this year for the not-quite-finished series will prevent the finished series being eligible next year. Admittedly this is a personal prejudice of mine, but I think it makes much more sense to put the finished series in for consideration.

    I’m trying to fit a binge of the TV show into my pre-Christmas plans, and I’m pretty confident it will feature on my ballot in some way.

  24. looks left and right

    So, I liked Joker.

    Quite a bit, actually. To the point I’m strongly considering putting it on my ballot. And after saying that I had no interest in doing so. Joke’s on me; I hadn’t seen the movie, not initially wanting to until hearing about some occurrences in the movie that seemed to contradict some of the popular criticisms. Removed from a viewing, I’m inclined to agree. Not to the point of calling it a masterpiece, but at least a more ambitious film than some of the more insular film communities are giving it credit for. It clearly has a lot to say about the inequity of class and mistreatment of mental illness brought about in the wake of a post-Reaganite America, at least from my perspective. In fact, a criticism I have about the film is that it tends to overplay its themes a bit. But I guess you can’t be subtle in a superhero film. Not that I’d call this a “superhero” film; Without spoiling, the film takes a…very critical view of the Batman/Gotham City mythos I don’t think I’ve ever seen, even in the Nolan films (maybe I need to read more comics…)

    Honestly I haven’t even decided if it’s a “great” movie or not, but it’s one I haven’t stopped thinking about since I saw. What did Filers think of it? Part of me thinks it’s good to have such a major release inspire so much discussion, but it does feel very polarized.

  25. The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

    Novel (2nd in a series)

    A worthy follow-up to The Poppy War, this book explores the evolution of the characters as more time passes and the state of the world gets … not worse, but only because it couldn’t have possibly gotten any worse than it already was. The introduction of the Hesperians as characters was a standout part of the book, as was in general the elaboration of the world and the mythology.

  26. Not a recommendation per se, but today I noticed that Comic Book Roundup has a tool, listing comics for the year sorted after some kind of critic rating. Should make it a bit easier to find new interesting comics, even if the listed items seems limited to a very small set.

  27. Best Series

    The Winternight Trilogy, Katherine Arden

    I made some noise about putting up The Winter of the Witch for Best Novel earlier, but now I’m rethinking that, as a couple of other books have squeaked past it on my personal Best-Of list. However, I am definitely nominating the series. Arden’s evolution as a writer is evident and impressive throughout, and her characterizations and mastery over her plot and world are on full display in the final volume.

    Jane Yellowrock, Faith Hunter

    Urban fantasy seems to me to be tailor-made for Best Series (as Seanan McGuire proves each year she’s eligible) but there are a few other long-running series still out there. This is one of them. I had skipped a few of the books in this one after reading the beginning volumes, and decided to tackle it again with this year’s entry, Shattered Bonds. The protagonist’s character growth and the author’s expansion and deepening of her world from the earlier books was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. The only thing that might be iffy for some is the fact that the author is a white woman and her protagonist Jane Yellowrock is an indigenous (Cherokee) woman, so I don’t know how accurate the language/cultural depictions are.

    Lodestar

    Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer

    This of course is the novel-length expansion of Kritzer’s story “Cat Pictures Please,” and it is delightful. I guess it’s been marketed as a young adult thriller, which it sort of is, but it also asks some probing questions about the internet and its intrusion into our lives, and how an emerging artificial intelligence could develop a conscience and a set of ethics. This makes the final confrontation both hilarious and unnerving, which you’ll see when you get to it. The characters are well-drawn and the pacing is excellent.

  28. Lost and Found, Orson Scott Card, Blackstone.
    Lodestar (YA)

    Premise: a boy can find things that are lost (not abandoned) and trace their owners — but he’s given it up because of repeated accusations that he stole them. He gets ~pushed by a small person, even brighter than he is, who joins him on the walk to school (the school bus being a place for abuse). Plot ensues, including partly connecting to other teenagers with microtalents (cf “deuces” in Wild Cards) and thinking about how even small talents can help.
    This is not a perfect book; the author’s hand directing the plot is not always hidden. But it’s still a good, plausible story, without the blatant sexism, homophobia, and/or general creepiness that I see in other Card; I don’t know whether other Filers will find issues. I didn’t suggest this for Greg’s list because it gets dark with issues of family and child abuse, but I thought it was at least worth the read.

    The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern, Penguin Random House
    Novel
    A college student trying to find the source of a book that more-or-less dropped into his hands gets more and more entangled with Stories and the people who guard, preserve, and remember them — and who are not in agreement about what these tasks entail. I’m sorry I don’t have better words to explain that this is absorbing and beautifully written — even the symbol manipulations that would be wooden in Sanderson’s hands support the story; the only puzzle is how it has such wide appeal (#1 on the Los Angeles Times list per Locus, over 150 people queued for it at the Boston Public Library, …) despite being not at all trivial to follow and having a gay lead.

  29. The Pursuit of William Abbey, Claire North, Orbit
    Novel
    The main viewpoint character is cursed to be haunted after not stopping a lynching; the haunt immediately kills whom this person most loves, but takes time to come back and discover who is next-most-loved — and for some time before, the person sees the truth of whoever is near, then becomes incapable first of lying and then of not saying all the truths they perceive. Naturally the government (UK in this case) finds a way to weaponize this, but so do other governments — and revolutionaries, who themselves turn dark. Thirty years of history are told to a World-War-I nurse. This is not an easy read — if any of you remember T. L. Sherred’s “E for Effort”, this starts on the far side, with bleaker views not just of politicians but of the powerful generally — but it’s also not easy to ignore.

  30. Changed my nominations for The Mandalorian and Watchmen to “Chapter 7: The Reckoning” and “A God Walks Into Abar,” respectively, ‘cuz I don’t believe in nominating more than one episode from a show.

    If anyone’s curious, my Dramatic Pesentation Short Form ballot is pretty much donezo:

    Counterpart: “Twin Cities,” written and directed by Justin Marks (Starz)
    The Expanse: “Saeculum,” written by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck, directed by Breck Eisner (Penguin in a Parka, Alcon Entertainment, Amazon Studios)
    Interface: “Part I,” written and directed by Justin Tomchuk (YouTube)
    The Mandalorian: “Chapter 7: The Reckoning,” written by Jon Favreau, directed by Deborah Chow (Lucasfilm, Disney+)
    Watchmen: “A God Walks Into Abar,” written by Jeff Jensen and Damon Lindelof, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (HBO)

  31. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

    Novel (11th in a series)

    As generals and politicians prepare to face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, Mercy has to fend off a new threat when two witches come to town …

    After several entries in this series that I found disappointing, I was close to giving up on it. However, Storm Cursed is a solid return to form. A good yarn, well told.

  32. The Archive of Alternate Endings by LIndsay Drager

    Novella

    Tracking the evolution of Hansel and Gretel at seventy-five-year intervals that correspond with earth’s visits by Halley’s Comet, The Archive of Alternate Endings explores how stories are disseminated and shared, edited and censored, voiced and left untold.

    This one is going to appeal only to those fans who still like SF when it’s served up litfic style – this novella is about as litfic as it gets, and the SF elements are only a small part of it. But for those who do like that particular intersection of narrative techniques, it’s a good one.

  33. Novella

    Made Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky

    An extremely readable and entertaining novella (c38,500 words), featuring a young street thief who has acquired some very interesting little friends – the Made Things of the title – who are magically infused little figures. Add in a a very flavourful fantasy city, controlled by a magical oligarchy and survived-in by a criminal underclass, and some interesting worldbuilding, and there’s a lot packed into this novella.

  34. Floodtide by Heather Rose Jones

    Novel (4th in a series)

    The streets are a perilous place for a young laundry maid dismissed without a character for indecent acts. A desperate escape in the night brings her to the doorstep of Dominique the dressmaker and the hope of a second chance beyond what she could have imagined.

    In Floodtide, Heather Rose Jones has successfully pulled off one of the most difficult feats in literature — telling the same story as a previous book from a different character’s point of view. While this has been attempted many times, it usually falls into any of a number of pitfalls: repetitiveness, a dearth of originality, a story with a plot contorted around the events of the previous one, or the simple lack of any reason for the story to exist. Floodtide avoids all of these problems, and instead offers a fresh and very different take on Alpennia from a point of view that, as it turns out, adds a great deal to the story and the ongoing events. This one may have the strongest writing yet of all the Alpennia novels, and that’s saying a lot for a series whose charms I will wax rhapsodic about at the slightest provocation.

  35. Seconding the rec for Made Things. Very well done, and just about the perfect size for the story it told.

  36. How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, K. Eason, DAW
    Novel
    This is a mishmosh that shouldn’t work but does. It starts with a healthy dose of snark: when the king of an interstellar empire is told that fairies must be invited to his daughter’s christening, the most effective gift comes from the historically-excluded fairy who rips the rest of them a new one for the obsolescence and sexism of their gifts. (The father isn’t ignored in this.) (No, this isn’t Interstitial; it’s not Arty enough. It just gleefully tromps all over boundaries.) It goes on to keep commenting on events-going-downhill in a tone that I started to hear as the voice of Peter Jones (the original narrator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) — although this is by no means a comedy; it’s just there’s a certain … irreverence? … of tone.

    The title page says “Book One of the Thorne Chronicles”, but the ~epilog wraps up at least this phase much more than that label suggests, and the author’s website doesn’t say anything about working on another. I’ve made myself a note to look again in a year, to see whether there’s any change.

  37. Novel
    Gamechanger – XL Beckett
    About a hundred years from now, the worst of the climate change crisis is over. Marital law has been lifted and people are working together to help the world recover. A new society has sprung up which is very different from ours, but you can clearly see how current trends could lead in that direction.
    Our main protagonist is a lawyer with a mysterious new client. Is he a terrorist, a madman, or something else – the truth will surprise you. The second protagonist is her father, a rock star with drug problems who spends his free time chasing down conspiracy theories. Could one of those theories be true?
    Over time I’ve noticed there are some books that contain genuinely new ideas and others that make current things seem new by renaming them. This book does both. Its thought provoking, exciting, and makes you care about the characters.

  38. Novella: “Waterlines” by Suzanne Palmer (in the the July/August issue of Asimov’s)

    The human colonists on a planet have very little contact with the planet’s native aquatic sapients. This changes when one of the aliens returns several human corpses that were found near an equipment installation. Things heat up when it turns out the bodies were murdered.

    There’s a good balance between interesting worldbuilding, character moments, action, and investigation. The growing friendship between the two main characters was well-written, and I liked the descriptions of the aliens’ technology.

  39. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

    Novel (YA, third in a trilogy)

    While this never quite reaches that wheels-within-wheels heights of The Wicked King, it’s a satisfying ending to a well-written trilogy. And it also achieves something that is usually almost impossible — it makes me accept the Awful Guy as the love interest.

    You know the Awful Guy. He’s the one the barges into what seems like at least fifty percent of romance novels and makes you think, “No … that horrible asshole can’t possibly be the one the author is setting up for the romance, can it?” and then you quickly realize, “Oh God, it is.” and he promptly wrecks the book by being a horrible asshole for most of the text while the story still, somehow, expects you appreciate the main character swooning over him.

    Well, it took Holly Black three books to do it, but by the end of this trilogy, I believed in the two leads as a couple. Add that to my appreciation of Holly Black’s storytelling and imagination, and this series is a winner for me all around.

  40. @Kyra —

    Glad to hear you liked books 2 and 3. I haven’t gotten past book 1 yet, but I’ve been looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

  41. @bookworm1398: I suspect you mean that “martial” law has been suspended — although it’s clear early-on that traditional-marriage laws have also been junked. I found Gamechanger intensely irritating at first; it’s not a pure Utopia because people are still digging out from under the environmental mess we’re now causing, but ISTM to be unbelievably optimistic even so (e.g., Doctorow’s granted-social-credit idea taken to the next level with such massive deflation built in that it wouldn’t work) and clumsily trendy: a character using “ei” pronouns but projecting cis/het male, and such a high density of # and @ as to be difficult to read. But it did get much more interesting as it went on, with none of the surprises being out-of-the-author’s-ass unbelievable (as I found (e.g.) Chambers); people who think “this isn’t my thing” at first may find continuing to part 2 (of 3) worthwhile. It will be interesting to see whether NZ nominators run somewhat out of the centrism of a lot of Hugo nominations, as Australia did the last time it was the Worldcon site.

    @Kyra: note that this is also eligible for the Best Series Hugo — although with a separate (albeit non-Hugo) YA award I doubt it will get much push.

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