Mike Dariano


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My Favorite Fiction Books of the Year

It's the start of December, people are buying gifts for loved ones, un-loved ones, and mis-loved ones. Holiday music fills the air and the smart readers of this blog need to add a book to their wish list to balance out the Breaking Bad complete series that tops it. Here's my list from most to least favorite, although these are all books I finished reading and all of them were enjoyable.

Neverwhere. Neil Gaiman's 1996 story about an underground London filled with monsters, ghouls, and other creatures was wonderful. It had everything I wanted in a story, including a twist at the end that thrilled, angered, and kept me turning the pages. It was my favorite Gaiman story since American Gods, and it might be even better than that. Gods tends to slow a bit in the middle and doesn't finish with a great bang, but does have a good one. Neverwhere is more like the story that builds and builds and then explodes.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. Technically I read this book in December of last year. I didn't mention it on the blog because during this same time of the year our household was battling a gastroenterological pox. The Dog Stars is the story about a disease that wipes out most of human civilization (not to be confused with our pox), except our narrator, a compatriot, and his dog. The trio take residence in an abandoned airport and survive against the sick who are still alive and try to attack. The story is rich and heartwarming, something most of these end of world stories lack.

The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Two more books by Neil Gaiman. I discovered him in late 2012 and spent part of this year reading his back catalog. Graveyard was an early book of his, Ocean the most recent. I enjoyed Graveyard more than Ocean but both had the wonderful mysterious corners and shadows that Gaiman writes so well. Most of all, I enjoyed that when I'm reading Gaiman it feels like walking through a dark room. My arms are stretched in front of me, my eyes are peeled open but can't see a thing, and I'm excited - but blind - to where I'm going. (I wrote a review of Ocean earlier this year.)

One Shot (Jack Reacher #9) by Lee Child. I read this because I thought about watching the movie. The book was good but felt a bit serialized in the characters. There was just enough depth in this book like a pool you can dive into, but not enough richness in the series for me to read more of them.

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