Booklist's Reading List: Best Genre Adult Fiction, 2012
--Booklist Feature (First published in the March 1, 2012 issue of Booklist)
Established in 2007 by the CODES section of RUSA, the Reading List Council, consisting of librarians who are experts in readers’ advisory and collection development, selects an annual list of outstanding genre fiction. This list is made up of one title in eight different categories: Adrenaline (encompassing thrillers, suspense, and action/adventure); Fantasy; Historical Fiction; Horror; Mystery; Romance; Science Fiction; and Women’s Fiction. All titles were published in 2011.
Before I Go To Sleep. By S. J. Watson, HarperCollins, $25.99 (9780062060556).
Each morning, Christine wakes with no memory. From the clues she left herself, she tries to piece together her identity and sort lies from the truth. This novel’s unrelenting pace thrusts the reader into the confusion of a waking nightmare, in which revelations from Christine’s past lead to a frantic crescendo. Read-alikes: Tanya French’s The Likeness, Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, and Memento (Summit Entertainment, 2000).
The Night Circus. By Erin Morgenstern. Doubleday, $26.95 (9780385534635).
Le Cirque des Rêves is utterly unique, disappearing at dawn in one town only to mysteriously reappear in another. At the heart of the circus are two young magicians involved in a competition neither completely understands. The dreamlike atmosphere and vivid imagery make this fantasy unforgettable. Read-alikes: Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Shadow of the Wind, and The Prestige (Touchstone Pictures, 2006).
Shortlist: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown); The Magician King, by Lev Grossman (Viking); The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW); and Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot).
Doc. By Mary Doria Russell. Random, $26 (9781400068043).
In the early days of Dodge City, a genteel, tubercular southern dentist forges a friendship with the infamous Earp brothers. Combining historical details and lyrical language, this gritty psychological portrait of gunslinger Doc Holliday reveals how the man became the legend. Read-alikes: Pete Dexter’s Deadwood, Gerald Kolpan’s Etta, and Robert B. Parker’s Gunman’s Rhapsody.
Shortlist: Bright and Distant Shores, by Dominic Smith (Pocket); Lionheart, by Sharon Kay Penman (Putnam); Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles (Viking); and The Sea Captain’s Wife, by Beth Powning (Penguin).
The Ridge. By Michael Koryta. Little, Brown, $24.99 (9780316053662).
The unexplained death of an eccentric lighthouse keeper in the isolated Kentucky woods, followed by a mysterious threat to a large nearby cat sanctuary, prompts an investigation by a journalist and the local sheriff. Palpable evil and a sense of dread drive this chilling tale. Read-alikes: Stephen Irwin’s Dead Path, Christopher Buehlman’s Those across the River, and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Harbor.
Shortlist: The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan (Knopf); The Night Strangers, by Chris Bohjalian (Crown); Raising Stony Mayhall, by Daryl Gregory (Del Rey); and The White Devil, by Justin Evans (HarperCollins).
The Devotion of Suspect X. By Keigo Higashino. Minotaur, $24.99 (9780312375065).
An introverted mathematician matches wits with a brilliant former colleague to protect the neighbor he secretly adores from a murder charge. Although the reader knows the murderer’s identity from the beginning, this unconventional Japanese mystery remains a taut psychological puzzle. Read-alikes: Natsuo Kirino’s Out, John Verdon’s Think of a Number, and Sherlock (BBC, 2010–12).
Shortlist: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, by Sara Gran (Houghton); Killed at the Whim of a Hat, by Colin Cotterill (Minotaur); The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo (Knopf); and A Trick of the Light, by Louise Penny (Minotaur).
Silk Is for Seduction. By Loretta Chase. Avon, paper, $7.99 (9780061632686).
Ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot will do almost anything to secure the patronage of the Duke of Clevendon’s intended bride. Neither her calculated business plan nor his campaign of seduction can withstand the force of their mutual attraction. Witty banter and strong-willed characters make this a memorable tale. Read-alikes: Madeline Hunter’s Dangerous in Diamonds, Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Raven Prince, and Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart.
Shortlist: Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison (Berkley); A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal, by Meredith Duran (Pocket); My One and Only, by Kristin Higgins (Harlequin); and When Beauty Tamed the Beast, by Eloisa James (Avon).
Leviathan Wakes. By James S. A. Corey. Orbit, paper $15.99 (9780316129084).
The missions of a jaded cop and a dedicated officer collide as the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. A mystery adds a noir touch to this space opera featuring deeply flawed yet heroic characters, nonstop action, and Earth versus Mars politics. Read-alikes: M. J. Locke’s Up against It, Peter Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star, and Paul J. McAuley’s The Quiet War.
The Language of Flowers. By Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Ballantine, $25 (9780345525543).
A former foster child struggles to overcome a past filled with abuse, neglect, and anger. Communicating through the Victorian language of flowers allows her to discover hope, redemption, and a capacity for love. Damaged, authentic characters create emotional tension in this profoundly moving story. Read-alikes: Paula McLain’s Like Family (nonfiction); Helen Humphreys’ The Lost Garden, Janet Fitch’s White Oleander.
Shortlist: Deep Down True, by Juliette Fay (Penguin); Joy for Beginners, by Erica Bauermeister (Putnam); The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown (Putnam); and What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty (Penguin).