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Sci-fi & Fantasy Must Reads Update


It's only July, and I have finished my must-read list of sci-fi and fantasy novels for 2023. I need to create a list for the second half of 2023 now! A good problem to have.


Scalzi's clever writing and humor are on full display in The Kaiju Preservation Society. This is a lighthearted, quick read with an immensely satisfying conclusion. Scalzi's take on kaiju is interesting and, at times, humorous. I enjoyed this novel but expected to enjoy it more than I did based on the blurb I saw a year ago. It falls short of his best work, which I consider to be the early Old Man's War Novels and The Interdependency Trilogy.


Still, if you're looking for humorous sci-fi that doesn't take itself too seriously, The Kaiju Preservation Society is a winner.


Lawrence does not disappoint in the final installment of The Broken Empire Trilogy. Jorg is an antihero for the ages, with an impressive character arc throughout the series. Also, Lawrence makes the story world ever more engrossing with each book. This one definitely met my mile-high expectations. This book and the entire trilogy are some of the best fantasy I've read in a long time. I will definitely be reading more by this author.


My exploration of Sanderson's work continues with polishing off Oathbringer, the third installment in the excellent The Stormlight Archives. I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as its predecessors. Yes, there are some gnarly reveals in this novel that are interesting and surprising. Overall, the characterization of the core characters keeps getting better. But the climactic battle was tedious.


The last 20% or so of Oathbringer is a battle told from various perspectives. We jump from character to character in mini-scenes to get a complete picture of what is happening. This makes for fast-paced action, and believe me, Sanderson is skilled at writing action scenes, but it just keeps going and going and GOING. Also, I didn't care what was happening with some minor characters. In the end, I was relieved when the battle ended. Honestly, the aftermath and the set up for the next book were more gripping.


Having said that, Oathbringer met my expectations. I expected it to be a LONG epic fantasy with a fast pace and characters I could root for. On that level, it delivered. I probably would've loved the battle scenes if I had read this book when I was younger. But alas, for the me of today, shorter, brutal battle scenes are more to my taste than long, drawn-out ones, no matter how well done. Despite this criticism, I look forward to reading the next installment in The Stormlight Archives, Rhythm of War.


Don't let the corny name discourage you from reading Clown in a Cornfield 2 and its award-winning predecessor. I expected this book to be good, but it is far better than I anticipated. Rarely does a book make me laugh out loud, and this one did. Once again, Cesare has crafted a horror novel that is part slasher and part commentary on society. In this installment, our heroes have become minor celebrities and are harangued by massacre-denying conspiracy theorists. The result are scenes that feel disturbingly true to life yet are often darkly funny.

Clown in a Cornfield 2 isn't as creepy and gory as Clown in a Cornfield, but I found it as thoroughly enjoyable. Easily one of the best books I've read this year.


 

When I made my must-read list for 2023, I didn't anticipate finishing it only seven months into the year. Check back soon for my must-reads for the second half of the year.


Do you have any books that you must read this year? Drop the titles in the comments.


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