Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2012
Here we are, my year end recap of the books I’ve read this year. You can check out my Google Spreadsheet for the full list of books I’ve managed to read in 2012 (and every year prior).
So, like last year, I’ll list out the top 5 books I read and the top 5 comics I read this year. I’m excluding re-reads in my evaluations. I’m only including books I read for the first time in 2012.
Here we go. In no particular order.
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline – Okay, I’m immediately going to call myself a liar. I said these were in no order, but I’m telling you right now, this was the best book I read in 2012. Hands down. There was a lot of buzz going around about the book and I had several people recommend it to me. Which usually makes me not want to read things. However, my friend Trish over at Love, Laughter and Insanity believed that I would love it so much that she actually traveled to a bookstore in which Ernest Cline was signing, had him sign a copy of the paperback and then mailed it to me. And that’s why she’s awesome. Thanks, Trish. Your hard work paid off and it has been named as my favorite book of the year. Seriously, this book is the truth. Don’t read anything about it or the story. Just experience it. You’re welcome.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis – Honestly, this was the best book I read for most of 2012. Then, in early July, I read the above book. But even if this isn’t my #1, it’s absolutely in my top 5. This is probably also in the top 5 of Star Wars books of all-time. This book had been planned, started, stopped and delayed several times. Finally, James Luceno grabbed the reins and drove this baby home. It’s a very ambitious novel. Focusing on the behind the scenes machinations of Darth Sidious and his master, Darth Plagueis. It’s fascinating to see the rise of Plagueis, his meeting with Palpatine on Naboo, and their cultivating the plan that will eventually be unleashed in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. This book is so good it makes The Phantom Menace a better movie. Luceno was never one of my favorite Star Wars writers but this book and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader have changed that. I’m now on the lookout for what Luceno plans to do next.
11/22/63 – Stephen King – I’ve been a fan of King’s work for years. My favorite stuff are his short story collections but I’ve read most of his other seminal novels. Earlier in 2012 I had decided to finally read The Stand. I didn’t just love it. And after 1130+ pages of that, I was reluctant to read another King book that tops 800 pages. But I acquired this hardback in early 2012 at a used library book sale for around a dollar. I’ve always been fascinated with the Kennedy assassination and time travel, so this was a perfect topic for me. And the story delivers. King really outdoes himself with this book. King meanders a bit in the middle, but honestly I didn’t mind because the characters were so engaging. Really, the Kennedy assassination is almost an afterthought. But when it finally comes it’s awesome. This book blew me away. I highly recommend giving it a shot. Especially since the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death is Nov 22, 2013. But get the eBook version. An 800 page hardback is a little tough to read.
Star Trek: Dept of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History – Christopher Bennett – This is actually book 2 in the series. Book 1 was called Watching the Clock and I honestly didn’t like it. But the concept of this book series is too good so I read this next book anyway. It deals with a clandestine department in Starfleet that polices the timestream to prevent anyone mucking around with time for their own benefit. The time agents in this book discover a Constitution class starship in the middle of a space-time anomaly with the designation of Timeship 2. Quantum readings confirm it as being from their own past. Now the agents Lucsly and Dulmur must scour the records of Jim Kirk and his crew to discover the secret of the mysterious ship and they also discover links to the creation of the DTI. Like I said, it’s Star Trek, time travel and Jim Kirk. And it’s pretty awesome.
Dream Team – Jack McCallum – I did a full review of this book this past summer. In short, the book is a great, nostalgic look at the stars that made up the original Dream Team. If you love 80s-90s NBA and its superstars, then you’ll love this book.
The Definitive Irredeemable Vol. 1 – Mark Waid (writer), Peter Krause (artist) – Collecting the first 12 issues of the series. Mark Waid really creates something special here. This series is amazing. It’s often compared to Alan Moore’s run on Supreme, but honestly, I think this is better. And I love Moore’s original run on Supreme (it made my year end book list last year).
Batman (The New 52): The Court of Owls saga – Scott Snyder (writer) – This story arc is actually contained in three volumes; Volume 1: The Court of Owls, Volume 2: The City of Owls and Volume 3: Night of the Owls. It’s involved, runs through the entire bat family of comics and lasts for the first year of the Batman and Nightwing comic titles. It’s sprawling and a little long, but an ultimately engrossing story. I won’t lie, some of the story bits that run through Bat Wing or Red Hood and the Outlaws aren’t as necessary or engaging, but the story lines that run through Batman and Nightwing are awesome.
Deathstroke Vol. 1: Legacy (The New 52) – Kyle Higgins (writer), Simon Bisley (artist) – This particular trade collects issues #1-6 written by Kyle Higgins and drawn by Simon Bisley. This Legacy story arc is awesome. Such a really good start to the series for one of my favorite DC characters that has been around since the heyday of the George Perez Teen Titans. I’ve actually read all the way up to issue #14. Around issue #9, Higgins and Bisley leave the title and writing/art duties are given to Rob Liefeld. And that is where the quality of the art (and story a bit) begin to decline. I’ve never been a fan of Liefeld and he’s not winning me over after taking the reins from Higgins and Bisley. I love the idea of Deathstroke taking on Lobo, but it just doesn’t live up to what it could have been. And I can’t say it enough, Liefeld is a horrible artist. Just crap. So, just to clarify, I’m recommending the first 8 or 9 issues of this title. After that it’s okay, but not great.
Justice League (The New 52) Vol. 1: Origin – Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee (artist) – As you can see, I’ve been trying to catch up on my DC “New 52″ comics”. Now that they’ve reached a little over a year old, you can get collections of the first year fairly cheap. This was the flagship title for DC’s “reboot”. And it delivers. The art and writing are great. I can’t recommend this enough.
I, Vampire (The New 52) Vol. 1: Tainted Love – Joshua Fialkov (writer), Jenny Frison (artist) – Let’s just make this a 4-bagger. Another DC New 52 title. The first volume seen above only collects issues #1-6. The second volume will be released in March and will collect #7-12 and maybe the first annual. I personally have read through issue #14. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this title. I was wondering how DC would incorporate this into it’s world of super heroes, but they did it. And they did it well. This title has a tie in with Justice League Dark which is pretty good. I don’t know what I expected, but this beat every expectation I had. Very well done.
I’ll go ahead and give you a few honorable mentions.
Wizard of Oz books – As you know, I was reading the Baum Oz books last year. Several are worthy of mentioning. Most notably would be Book 6: The Emerald City of Oz, Book 7: The Patchwork Girl of Oz, Book 10: Rinkitink in Oz and Book 11: The Lost Princess of Oz.
Psycho by Robert Bloch – I read this for AWESOME-tober-fest 2012 and it surprised me how much I liked it. A very well written thriller that just goes to show you it wasn’t all Hitchcock that made that movie great.
JLA: Tower of Babel – Mark Waid (writer), Dan Curtis Johnson (artist) – Awesome story by Mark Waid. Ra’s al Ghul steals Batman’s plans on how to disable the JLA if any of the heroes ever went rogue. Ghul actually executes the plans and renders the heroes unable to function. When the group learn they were Batman’s plans, they vote to expel him from the team. Really good story. Used as the basis for the Justice League: Doom animated movie.
Cyborg #3: High Crystal – The third of the 4 Martin Caidin Steve Austin novels that created the Austin character and were the basis of the TV Show The Six Million Dollar Man. I’ve been reviewing these books and will soon start reviewing Season 1 of the TV series. This was probably the best of the 4 books. The first one being a close second.