2016 Year of Books Read…… In review
30 more books read this year and it apparently is the year of King for me. I try to vary the authors I read, but when you read a series you end up with a few from the same guy. This year I read books by 23 authors, but only 3 show up in the top 5 books I read this year. So... Here we go!
#5 The Chase by Clive Cussler - 7 out of 10
Sometimes great writing makes a book better. This time a great story made bad writing better. This is one of those books that I almost gave up on. Very quickly into the book I could tell I was not a fan of the way it was written. It feels a bit clunky with too much not quite poetic prose making the author feel a little pompous. Tons of dialogue and blocks of description that precede almost every scene. But with all that said the story is great. Lots of information about the time period mixed with a fun story that makes you think a little. There are some plot holes, but they only come when you over analyze the situations. This is much more fun and shallow. It doesn't need a lot of scrutiny. It does read slow and takes a while for the story to pick up, but once it does it is a lot of fun.
#4 Adolf in Wonderland by Carlton Mellick III - 8 out of 10
If I thought Carlton Mellick III was a one trick pony this book proved me wrong. Mellick is a good writer, but the other books I've read by him did not demonstrate his true ability. This book was written masterfully. The language fits, it never seems to be out of place. The sentences vary, the vocabulary is rich, and the symbolism is deep. I can see some people having a problem with the repetition, but it is done in a poetic way that really drives the meaning and philosophy behind the story. The characters are flat as were with his other books, but the story of the book calls for it. A deep character with complicated motivations would be out of place and hurt the message. There is truly only one character in this book, but if you read it you should understand the necessity of that. The plot of the book is incredibly deep, but that is because the book itself is an allegory of sort and moral message at a more surface level. There are lots of twists and turns that if you aren't paying attention may seem like useless plot confusion, but it is so much more. Everything that happens in the book is there to re-iterate the message. This book is similar in ways to others like The Great Gatsby or Animal Farm or Brave New World where it isn't as much about the entertainment as it is about the message behind it. For a bizarro book it lends real credibility to the genre. It is a literary work more than it is a novel or story. It is art for a purpose. In the end it leaves rethinking everything you read trying make sure you understand the purpose of it. I think this was more of a piece of art that Mellick should be proud of regardless of reader reaction and book sales. It is not a cash cow, but more of work of passion. I greatly appreciate what the author did here and wish more people would give it a chance as a poem, as a message, and as metaphor for humanity.
#3 End of Watch by Stephen King - 8 out of 10
There seemed to be something weird about reading a Stephen King series that was based in the real world. This third entry into the Bill Hodges Trilogy he couldn't stay away from the horror end of his toolkit. Although this is the finale to a crime thriller series it is also a bit of the classic King paranormal horror. The writing in Stephen King is phenomenal. But, the old private eye talk in this one can get a little old. It is the same narrator as the first two books, but by the time you get to this one the cliches can get a little old. The story is well planned out and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It does contain some otherworldly ideas which may turn some off who have read the first two books and are fans of the crime thriller genre. It is great for the story and if you are willing to take the bait it is great for the series as well. The characters in this one are mostly repeats from previous books, but they are interesting and I truly felt an attachment to them. At one point I spoke out loud about how happy I was to see a specific twist. It was very similar to watching sports and screaming at the television, only I was pointing my finger and mumbling at a book instead. Overall this is great, if you read the series then go ahead and finish it off with this one. Beware of the non-realistic twists it has but it shouldn't disappoint.
#2 Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King - 8 out of 10
I don't care for thrillers. I don't watch the movies, I don't read the books, I just don't like stories about people doing terrible things to other people. Regardless I liked this book a lot. As usual King does a great job of bringing characters to life, weaving an interesting plot, and making me care about what happens. For the reasons I don't like the genre, I didn't care for the villain, but the story was interesting enough to make me really want to find out what happened. My biggest problem with some recent King books was the characters seemed older than they were supposed to be. Not a problem this time as the main character is a older washed up former cop. I don't read the genre so I'm unsure if it is good for its genre, but I loved it. Good pacing, good story, good characters... King is a master.
#1 11/22/63 by Stephen King - 10 out of 10
I can say I don't like long books or ones with too much historical description. I can complain about the setting of the late 50's, but I despite all this I can't say 11/22/63 was anything other than great. I have gushed the praises of Stephen King, so finding out that I was a huge fan of this book should come as no surprise. As has been the case with his later books, 11/22/63 is written amazingly well. I had an issue or two, but it was amazing. I think my biggest complaint was that the protagonist is supposed to be in his forties, but with the decisions he makes and the thoughts he has it feels more like someone in their sixties. I think this is forgivable seeing how Stephen King is in his sixties. It only was noticeable because I am closer to the character's age than the author and I didn't feel like he was as identifiable as he should have been. I think it is worth noting that the book is not 100% about JFK and the assassination. It is somewhat promoted that way, but there is much more there. This is about life and existence and how the two intermingle. It is beautiful in many ways. It holds its own as a story for entertainment sake, but it is also artistic in many ways. There is a lot of subtlety that is included making the whole very much a work of art. Some of these are brought to light in the story as the main character realizes them and others are left to the reader to identify. As much as I don't care for long books this one probably should have been longer. The conclusion although doesn't feel rushed could have been dragged out some. Or maybe I just didn't want it to end.
These are as usual the best I read over the last year. Stephen King stole the show this year. But, as always there are a few books that just missed the top 5. So, here are the honorable mentions.
All of the following were 7 out of 10
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Trump: The Art of the Deal by Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz
Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine
The Key: A True Encounter by Whitley Strieber
Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore by Terry Funk and Scott A. Williams