Since we’re coming up fast on the end of the year, and since all the next books I have on my reading list are by men, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back on some of the best books written by women I read this year.
So when I say “new” women authors, I mean new to me. Because a lot of these names will probably be familiar to those who are more in touch with the world than I am.
(See? Told you some of you would recognize the names here.)
So if you’ve been on this column before, you may recall I had a bit of a bitch-fest a few months ago about all the goddamn romantic subplots going on in Maas’s series Throne of Glass. I stand by that, and probably always will.
That didn’t stop me from dropping twenty bucks on a pre-order of her seventh and final book of the series. For every time I roll my eyes at her pages, there are at least two times I’m gripping the book with white knuckles and/or swearing out loud because of plot twists or character deaths. It’s good stuff if you have high romance tolerance (or even like that kind of thing).
This trans author has written one of the best superhero stories I’ve seen in a while. Her Dreadnaught series is the hallowed teen-suddenly-turned-superhero trope, with the added complication that this teen is transgender. As an SFF fan, it was great to see a superhero world where death, politics, and abuse have actual consequences. As a cis reader, I learned a lot about LGBT struggles without feeling like I was attending one of those god-awful, inefficient diversity trainings in the office. (I can condense that whole eight hours into four words: don’t be a dick.)
Daniels also adds a ton of people of color and religious diversity, too. So it’s great if you want the superhero fun, some actual representation, and have already seen Black Panther and Wonder Woman so many times you can quote both movies in your sleep.
The only book of hers I’ve read this year is Lagoon, which is a short novel about an alien “invasion” in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s an intriguing, suspenseful, powerful story that manages to show the best and worst of humanity within two hundred short pages. And apparently it doesn’t even come close to some of her best stories. Okorafor is one of the leading figures in afrofuturism (for the uninitiated: that’s sci-fi written and dominated by African and African American writers, cultures, and characters), so this is definitely someone to check out if you haven’t already.
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is a YA grimdark urban fantasy about angels, demons, and twisted fairy tales. It’s got mindfucks, fight scenes, and—you guessed it—too many romantic subplots.
Taylor technically shouldn’t be on this list. I don’t have her trilogy on my Favorites page of my website because the ending was really…meh. (I’ll be publishing a YouTube video about it the first Sunday of December.) But I still really enjoyed the first two books, and even elements of the third. So…I don’t know. Take a look. There are plenty of people out there who enjoyed it more than I did.
I just finished the first book of her Red Queen series, and I loved it. Some of the best, most suspenseful YA fantasy I’ve ever read, with some seriously gray and downright twisted characters in there.
Then I took to Facebook and was told that the sequels are apparently…not. It was about 60/40 against the rest of the series. But I like those odds, so I’m definitely going to be checking out the rest of Aveyard’s books.
And that’s it! Everyone else I read and loved this year was either a guy (i.e. Rick Riordan) and/or someone I’d found before 2018 (i.e. Robyn Bennis). You can check out a more complete list of my favorites over on my website here.
What SFF women authors did you read this year?