Top Five Books of 2021

While I’m still not entirely convinced that it’s 2022, the date at the bottom right of my computer screen says otherwise, which means it’s time for another ranking of my top five favourite books read last year. And so I’ve sat down to write this.

And so I’ve been thinking about what books I’ve read.

And so, as I’ve discovered, a lot of those books that I’ve read were rereads. However, there were at least five new ones. Without further ado:

The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky by Victoria Forester

The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky: Forester, Victoria: 9781250089311: Books  - Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Girl-Who-Fell-Sky/dp/125008931X

This is the third book in a trilogy, following The Girl Who Could Fly and The Boy Who Knew Everything, which were some much enjoyed novels from my early teens. It’s about kids with superpowers, shady organizations, a hidden magical land full of weird fauna and flora and more people with superpowers, and, uh, some farm chores. In The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky, the villain from the previous novel seeks to cause chaos by releasing giant bugs (no, you didn’t read that wrong) from beneath the earth, and in an accident during this event, our protagonist Piper McCloud loses her ability to fly.

The section for this one is going to suffer from the fact that I read this early in the year and my memory of it is worse. It was sweet, but not my favourite from the series, so I’ll consider the number five spot to include all three.

Piper hasn’t seemed to learn after three books that she can’t teach other people to fly, but hey, I admire her optimism.

The Traitor’s Blade by Kevin Sands

The Traitor's Blade | Book by Kevin Sands | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster Canada
https://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/The-Traitors-Blade/Kevin-Sands/The-Blackthorn-Key/9781534484566

It is here! With a lot of fire on the cover. A little disconcerting, you would think.

This is the fifth book in The Blackthorn Key series, in which an apothecary’s apprentice in the 1660s, Christopher Rowe, solves mysteries and tries not to get himself and his friends killed, all the while blowing stuff up. A lot. It’s a key feature of the novels, and the other characters are thoroughly exasperated about it.

In this particular instalment, Christopher and co. finally return to London after spying for the king in France in the third book and getting shipwrecked in the fourth. Those were fun adventures, but I was also happy to see them return to their original setting and doing more puzzles. Puzzles to stop the plot against the king’s life, because what else?

Like The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky, I can’t say that this is a favourite for me out of the whole series, but I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing them encounter the Raven (the official big bad) head on. Also, “Quarantine living, as you might imagine, has very few charms” (pg. 152)? Funny. Very funny.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Children of Dune: Herbert, Frank: 9780593201749: Books - Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Children-Dune-Frank-Herbert/dp/0593201744

Since reading Dune in 2020, I have finished Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. This is another one that I read earlier in the year, and thus another one that I remember less of (I really need to read something twice for it to have a lasting impact memory-wise, it would seem). Still, I remember enough for it to have had an impression.

Warning for major spoilers in the next two paragraphs, because the new movie may have lead to more new readers: the third novel in the series follows the twins of Paul Atreides while Arrakis is being ruled by their possessed aunt, Alia. This instalment marks the return of Jessica, Paul being a super secret priest after walking off into the dessert in the previous book, many intertwining plots and deaths, and sandtrout. Many sandtrout. Almost an uncomfortable amount, in fact.

The worldbuilding continues to be interesting, and I particularly enjoyed getting to see more of the inner culture of Arrakeen in the second and third novels. The fact that Alia was the end of Baron Harkonnen only for Baron Harkonnen to ultimately be the end of her… Not upsetting at all, right?

The Truth by Terry Pratchett

The Truth (novel) - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truth_(novel)

I’m still slowly making my way through the Discworld novels, so yes, of course there’s a Terry Pratchett work on this list.

This is the second installment in the Industrial Revolution section within Discworld. In this case, it’s the newspaper that is being brought into existence, while a plot against Vetinari unfolds. There are dwarves and a vampire and the return of Gaspode the dog (who doesn’t talk, definitely, no, you’re imagining things), and at the centre of it, William de Worde.

It has the same amount of humour and strangeness as his other stories, and keeps with the trend of finding entertainment in what we would consider mundane that comes with the Industrial Revolution novels. The characters also go to increasingly extreme lengths to be able to get the scoop, because sure, William, going to stand at the edge of a tall building when a man is about to jump off of it is entirely reasonable.

The Truth also gets a point for having what I found to be the most disturbing scene so far in the series. I’ll never look at a potato the same way again.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency : Adams, Douglas: Amazon.ca: Books
https://www.amazon.ca/Dirk-Gentlys-Holistic-Detective-Agency/dp/1529034582

So, technically speaking I didn’t finish reading this novel until 2022, but technically speaking I did start it last year. By “I did start it last year” I mean that I started it about a week before New Year’s, HOWEVER, if I remember correctly I got most of it done in that week. I think.

Whatever. It’s going in the 2021 list.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, mainly because the holistic detective agency and Dirk himself doesn’t show up until you’re a fair portion into the book. Otherwise, it held the same wacky humour that I was used to from Hitchhiker’s Guide, although interspersed with some genuine existential dread. The experiences the reader gets to see from Gordon Way as a ghost are quite sad, all things considered, and the same goes for the situation with the aliens.

This is a fascinating ride, what with the plot taking you from one seemingly inconsequential detail to another, except that within the rules of this “holistic” universe, nothing is truly inconsequential.

And with that, 2021’s top five must come to an end. I definitely won’t continue the trend of uploading these later and later into the year, promise.