FictionFan Awards 2014 – Genre Fiction

All stand please…

 

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2014 in the Genre Fiction Category.

In case any of you missed them last week (or have forgotten them – you mean you don’t memorise every word I say?), a quick reminder of the rules…

THE CRITERIA

All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2013 and October 2014 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.

THE CATEGORIES

There will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories

Factual – click to see awards

Genre Fiction

Literary Fiction

Crime Fiction/Thrillers

 

…and…

Book of the Year 2014

THE PRIZES

For the winners!

I guarantee to read the authors’ next book even if I have to buy it myself!

For the runners-up!

Nothing!

THE JUDGES

Me!

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So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in

GENRE FICTION

 

This is a new category, created because I’ve read several things this year that don’t quite fall into any of the others. The Transwarp Tuesday! and Tuesday Terror!  features have led to me reading considerably more horror, sci-fi and fantasy than I have done for years, and I’ve also enjoyed a tiny foray into graphic novels. So, since I had to think of a catch-all title for all these bits of things, Genre Fiction it is. And I must say some of my most enjoyable reads this year have come from this new category. An almost impossible choice, especially with the ‘comparing apples with oranges’ effect of this mixed-bag category, and as I type this I’m still not totally sure who the winner will be…

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

 

the birdsThe Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

There are some true standouts in this collection of six stories, and if you don’t believe me, believe Alfred Hitchcock. As well as the title story, I loved The Apple Tree best, but the whole collection gives a great flavour of du Maurier’s style – rarely overtly supernatural and using elements of nature to great effect in building atmospheres filled with tension. From mountains to lakes, bright summer to freezing winter, frightening trees to terrifying birds, nothing can be taken at face value in du Maurier’s world. And her trademark ambiguity leaves room for the reader to incorporate her own fears between the lines of the stories – truly chilling.

Click to see the full review

the birds

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p&p mangaPride and Prejudice (Manga Classics) by Jane Austen adapted by Stacy King

This is an utterly charming, witty and affectionate adaptation with some really fabulous artwork by Po Tse, (who is apparently a manga-ka, whatever that might be). Apart from the cover all the artwork is black and white, which apparently is the norm for manga, but this really doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. Most of the social commentary has been thrown out, but all the fun and romance of the original has been retained – enhanced, even – by the great marrying together of the original text with a beautifully modern outlook. I can see how this adaptation might annoy Austen purists (and you know that usually includes me). But this is done with such skill and warmth that it completely won me over. I adored it and I’m not alone, it seems – the book is through to the semi-finals in the Best Graphic Novels and Comics category of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 (not quite as prestigious as the FF Awards, but not bad…)

Click to see the full review and other illustrations

p&p manga 1

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the martian 2The Martian by Andy Weir

After an accident during a dust storm, Mark Watney finds himself alone on Mars. His colleagues in the Ares 3 expedition believed he was dead and were forced to evacuate the planet while they still could, leaving him to survive alone until a rescue attempt can be made. This is a fantastic adventure story set in the near future. It only just scrapes into the sci-fi category since all the science and equipment is pretty much stuff that’s available now – and though it’s chock full of science and technology, it’s presented in a way that makes it not just interesting but fun. Mark is a hero of the old school – he just decides to get on with things and doesn’t waste time angsting or philosophising. And he’s got a great sense of humour which keeps the whole thing deliciously light-hearted. It reminded me of the way old-time adventure stories were written – the Challenger books or the Quatermain stories mixed with a generous dash of HG Wells – but brought bang up to date in terms of language and setting. Superb entertainment!

Click to see the full review

mars and earth

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a princess of marsA Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Our hero John Carter is transported to Barsoom (Mars) and must save not only his own life but his beloved Princess, Dejah Thoris. A surprise hit – I truly expected to dislike this and ended up enjoying it so much I went on to read the first sequel and watch the movie. And I suspect I’ll be reading the later sequels too sometime. It’s silly beyond belief and, even making allowances for the fact that it was written in 1911, the ‘science’ aspects are…unique! But it’s hugely imaginative and a great old-fashioned heroic adventure yarn, from the days when men were men and damsels were perpetually in distress. The action never lets up from beginning to end, from one-to-one fights to the death, attacks by killer white apes, all the way up to full-scale wars complete with flying ships and half-crazed (eight-limbed) thoats. Great escapist fantasy, with action, humour and a little bit of romance – plus Woola the Calot! What more could a girl want? (And see? I didn’t even mention the naked people… 😉 )

Click to see the full review

a princess art2

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FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2014

for

BEST GENRE FICTION

 

the truth is a cave

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

 

You ask me if I can forgive myself?

I can forgive myself for many things. For where I left him. For what I did. But I will not forgive myself for the year that I hated my daughter…

So starts this dark tale of a journey, a quest into the Black Mountains to find a cave – to find the truth. Our narrator is a small man, a dwarf, but he’s strong and he’s driven; by what, we don’t yet know but we feel a slow anger in him, an undiminished determination despite his ten year search for the object of his obsession. As we meet him, he is about to hire a guide, Calum MacInnes, to take him to a cave on the Misty Isle which is reputed to be filled with gold…

This book is nothing less than stunning. Gaiman’s wonderfully dark story is equalled and enhanced by the amazingly atmospheric illustrations of Eddie Campbell. The two elements – words and pictures – are completely entwined. There’s no feeling of the one being an addition to the other – each is essential and together they form something magical. The story is by turns moving, mystical, dramatic, frightening; and the illustrations, many of them done in very dark colours, create a sense of mirky gloom and growing apprehension. Words, pictures and production values of the hardback combine to make this a dark and beautiful read – a worthy winner!

Click to see the full review and other illustrations

DSCN0545

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Next week: Literary Fiction Award

44 thoughts on “FictionFan Awards 2014 – Genre Fiction

  1. I do love the variety among your nominees, FictionFan! So interesting! And it is interesting isn’t it how illustrations can make such a difference. Now, what time and where is the awards celebration/after-party? 😉

  2. Would that I could find it in myself to enjoy Gaiman but somehow his work leaves me cold. I accept that the fault is mine, but try as I might (and I really have tried) I just can’t find anything to enjoy.

    • To be honest, I’m not sure that I’d like most of his stuff either. I went on to read a couple of his short stories online and wasn’t terribly taken with them. But this one is fabulous – the pictures and the words work together so well, and the story is great – very dark.

  3. So many of my friends rave about Neil Gaiman, but I’ve just seen two films based on his work, Stardust and Coraline, both of which were wonderful. The Martian isn’t what I’d normally class as “my thing”, but I’ve read a lot of rave reviews from people who I wouldn’t expect to enjoy it, so I’m very much tempted.

    • Oh, I haven’t seen either of them – must look out for them. I wouldn’t say I was really a fan of his, but I did love this book – the pictures and words just worked together so well. The Martian is great fun – such a likeable protagonist and loads of humour. It seems to be appealing to loads of people who wouldn’t normally read this kind of thing – go on, give it a try! 😉

  4. *laughing* This was awesome!!!

    I should have known that pink P&P would have made the list. “who is apparently a manga-ka, whatever that might be” that made me laugh lots.

    Good to see The Martian got on there! You know, I was expecting a Martian–a green one–till the very end of the book?! I made Nick read that one, btw.

    And you did mention they were naked! But, what you should take from this is, that everything the professor recommends, you like!

    • *smiles* Glad you liked it!

      Haha! And I managed to sneak another Darby pic in, did you notice? Not that he’s quite as cute as CF…

      I was sorely tempted to let either The Martian or A Princess win – they both provided lots of fun both in the reading and in the chatting about them! Did Nick enjoy it?

      Well… almost everything! *buries Huck Finn in the garden*

      • He looks downright evil! I hope you’d never trust someone who looks like that–really! Of course, his coat is funny.

        Very true! It is quite a riot that you liked A Princess, now that I think on it. But, I suppose, it does seem like a FEF-ish book. Yes, Nick did. Then, Symph spied it in my office and borrowed it. Now, he loved it. That’s all we heard for weeks…

        You put that on the list yourself!

        • I admit – I’d probably run a mile if I met him in a dark street, especially if he was carrying those scissors…

          It does now – but it didn’t when I started reading it. See how you’ve changed me? Well, I’m thrilled – tbh, I wouldn’t have thought it was the kind of thing that would appeal to either of them, especially not Bubbles who always seems to be reading Russians and stuff!

          Did not!!! You made me read it!!!

          • Yeah, wonder what he’s up to with those things…

            Yes, I know. He always enjoys things you never think he would. I tried to read a Russian book once upon a time.

            Me? Nah! I wanted you to read IA and…5th wave. Which you said you’d start by Thanksgiving. Which I think is in like a week.

  5. A great selection. Did you know that “Good Omens” (a joint effort by Mr Gaiman and the blessed Sir Terry) is going to be dramatised on radio 4 during Christmas week? I belong to the “if Gaiman wrote it I will like it” school so of course I agree with your choice of winner(which must be a great relief to you). 🙂

  6. I remember reading your review of The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains when you first published it and I added the book to my to-read list but it is still, shamefully, unread…I’m going to try and change that asap and get my hands on a copy!

  7. Oh a VERY worthy winner – and of course YOU were the one who kicked me in the direction of Bookbridgr. who were releasing HARD copies of this, rather than eread, and sent me scurrying (as A Gaiman fan already) to get this one. A wonderful mix of wordies and piccies.

    A question, what happens to the rules if you pick a DEAD writer as the winner – I spotted the anomaly that several of the worthy mentions were now popped clogs. Would you have to visit Madame Arcati and instruct her to do a bit of literary channelling from beyond the veil? I assume it is Madame A who you would have to do a bit of palm and silver crossing with, unless ghostly publishers exist who can be paid with invisible, ectoplasmic coinage

    • ‘Tis truly a great one, and I’m always so glad when we find one we both love! It’s one I’ll read again and again…

      Haha! Well spotted – showing you read the rules much more carefully than I did! I was truly expecting all the winners to be new releases but it’s not working out that way this year – in fact, I may well hit a problem with the lit-fic. Hmm… perhaps I’ll have to take up time travel and go back to the publication date…and then wait…

    • Definitely! Santa should buy them all up and deliver one in every Christmas stocking – assuming people have big square stockings that is. A little wine would work well I feel – and/or some dark chocolate liqueurs…

  8. I can see you have eclectic, and good, taste. Unlike me. I enjoy coming here and musing over what I should be reading, instead of what I actually *am* reading! :/ At least I have seen Stardust and Coraline – I recommend each for the Gaiman thing. As well as the sort of mini-series Neverwhere.

    • Eclectic certainly! But I reckon good taste in books is just reading what you enjoy…and I do enjoy most of what I read, and the rest I enjoy ripping! Ah, now I do have an audiobook version of Neverwhere – a dramatised one that BBC Radio did. Still haven’t got around to listening to it yet though – thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  9. Yes I will have to get a copy of The Truth is a Cave… I might have mentioned my son (studying to be an illustrator) is a huge Neil Gaiman fan and met him, and had a long chat with him, in the summer. He keeps telling me to stop reading “harrowing books” and try one so this one is on my list 😉

    • Oh, you’d mentioned he was a fan but I didn’t know he was studying to be an illustrator – how interesting! There’s such an upsurge in graphic novels at the moment too – he’s picked a good time. I must say, though, The Truth is a pretty harrowing read!! Don’t be fooled by the illustrations I highlighted – some of the later ones are truly macabre… enjoy! 😉

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