I read 153 books this year in a 50/50 split between audiobooks and other formats. Being unemployed helped that along, didn’t do much for me in terms of my mental health. But there were so many good reads consumed and published this year, I had to make two lists. Enjoy!
Happy 2020! Welcome to the first addition of what I learned by reading. This month felt like it was a million years long, which is fine in terms of reading because I read 12 books so far, well ahead of my 100 book goal for 2020.
This book was such a whimsical, captivating journey from start to finish. In a village, a stranger visits on Shipment Day every few years, until one year, a mute boy falls from the sky. A designer baby (designed with imperfection in mind) creates a future in which visiting distant worlds is possible. While a captain only wants to protect her crew.
The structure and flow of this novel were something remarkable. Many books which I have read in multiple POVs generally announced whose story was to be followed at the opening of every section or chapter. Not in this one. Here, the reader had to trust the magic of Jimenez’s captivating prose to move seamlessly from one story line to another. This was especially important in the final part, where plot lines converged and tensions were at their highest.
This trust also came in the world-building. There wasn’t too much explanation into how things came to be, and the year in which the story takes place was only mentioned a handful of times. The reader came to understand the technology in the way the characters did, without too much build-up. It really came from the relationships between characters and their tech, which played out marvelous.
In addition, the queerness in this future is refreshingly casual. From the variety of relationships to the inclusion of M. being every character’s default prefix, I found this very refreshing. There was no world-building which explained its feature in this novel, it simply just was. In a panel I was on back in October 2019, we dubbed this queernorm and wow, was that normalized here.
If you want a lyrical story about found family and the human dangers of technological advancement, get lost in The Vanished Birds.