Okay. Okay. Bear with me. I know 2024 has only just begun, but I suspect I have already experienced the best fiction I will this year. One is a classic of apocalyptic literature first published over thirty years ago. The second is a new anime on Netflix that harkens back to the classic samurai films of the 1960s.
The Best Fiction I'll Experience in 2024?
To say Swan Song is an excellent book is a severe understatement. Simply put, it's one of the best books I've ever read. I put it right up there in my pantheon of the best of the best alongside Dune and the series A Song of Ice and Fire and Arc of a Scythe.
The easiest way to pitch Swan Song is to say it's like Stephen King's The Stand, only better and not just by a little bit. It also reminds me of Chuck Wendig's novels Wanderers and Wayward, but again, several orders of magnitude better.
I don't remember what inspired me to pick up this book, but I am glad I did. I have never read a novel over 900 pages that seemed shorter and more intense than this one. It's a horror story inspired by a nuclear apocalypse, a fantasy of epic proportions, and most of all, an adventure about finding hope and overcoming darkness. If any of those descriptions appeal to you even a little bit, do yourself a favor and read this book right away.
Anything with samurai in the title catches my eye. When I was younger, I loved watching the black-and-white samurai movies made in Japan in the 1960s. Blue Eye Samurai is reminiscent of those bloody classics, specifically Yojimbo and Sword of Doom come to mind.
On the surface, Blue Eye Samurai is a straightforward revenge story. However, clever gimmicks, engrossing characters, and subtle plot twists elevate this anime to Himalayan heights. I doubt I will watch another show or movie that comes close to this anytime soon.
Content warning: This is not for the young despite being an animated series. It boasts gruesome violence and many sex scenes.