On the occasion of a local event called the Old Town Book Fair, my local newspaper The Fort Collins Coloradoan asked me for my advice on some great summer reads (and to identify the book currently sitting at my bedside). I chose to focus on some favorites by excellent authors as well as some brand-new books in stores now. See below for my response!
- The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell — Here’s an exquisitely written post-apocalyptic horror novel, narrated by the precocious and world-weary Temple, a young girl just trying to survive after civilization has long ended. Temple is an unforgettable heroine who sees poetry even in a devastated world populated by zombies and human monsters. This book was a key inspiration for my book Blood Red.
- The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer — I’ve read only the first two books in this trilogy so far (the third is due shortly), but what a read! An expedition of four women (a biologist, a psychologist, a surveyor and an anthropologist) is sent by the government to a weird region called Area X, beyond the borders of humanity, to collect data. These are strange, supernatural, thrilling books that dare you to imagine what happens next.
- The Brilliance Saga by Marcus Sakey — This series about children born as “abnorms” might recall X-Men for you, but these books are going for something deeper. Nick Cooper is one of the more interesting protagonists in recent genre fiction, and he’s at the center of a brutally suspenseful cat-and-mouse chase as he hunts abnorm terrorists. Edge-of-your-seat writing and fascinating characters make this series a sci-fi/action must-read.
- Borderline by Lawrence Block — The Hard Case Crime series of books is providing an endless stream of classic and original crime fiction, and the 1950s/60s Lawrence Block resurrections are some of the best. This once-pseudonymous novel is a heady mix of crime and steamy noir, and it involves a gambler, a hitchhiker, a stripper and a psycho killer. And it’s very funny.
- Fiend by Peter Stenson — A blistering debut from a local writer, Fiend plays like a drug-addled Chuck Palahniuk fever dream. The protagonist, Chase Daniels, is an addict facing a waking nightmare. It’s a zombie tale with a meth edge. Violent, hilarious, exhilarating, told in staccato bursts, it’s just a blast of a debut.
- Currently on my nightstand is The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, another post-apocalyptic tale (are you sensing a theme?), but as with all my favorite end-of-the-world stories, this one has a unique spin and a fascinating perspective. It’s the story of young Melanie (I like young female points of view during the End Times), and her voice so far is gentle, heartfelt and beautiful. I can’t wait to see how this one ends. Also, Blood Red, that’s right, my own book is sitting on my nightstand. It’s my first novel, and I just like to see it there. It’s set here in Fort Collins, bringing monsters to Old Town and our familiar streets. It’s the first of a trilogy that will also include Draw Blood (April 2015) and Blood Dawn (April 2016).
To read the original article and get some suggestions from other Fort Collins writers, go to the Coloradoan website and read “Local authors tell what they’re reading this summer.”