Jeann’s Top 10 Books of 2018: Yes They’re All Fantasy

December 27, 2018 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Features

I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again where we pick our favourite books – but then again, there’s only a few more days left of 2018! It’s definitely been a big year for me (all of us actually). When I look back at my favourite books of the year, I’m so grateful that there’s been so many amazing fantasies and diverse reads that are now entering the book market – and building up hype as well!

Here’s my top 10 books of 2018 (not necessarily released in 2018 but the ones that I read):

10: Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

If you’re looking for a smart, intelligent dystopian set in the near future where humans have evolved so much and can no longer die of natural causes, the Arc of a Scythe series should be up your alley. As with Scythe, I adored the philosophical concepts explored here about life, death and population control. Thunderhead delves deeper into the world ruled by technology and explores higher stakes set by the Scythe council which is threatened to be torn apart.

9. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Asian fantasy books are my jam, and Girls of Paper and Fire was a delight when it came to this fantasy world inspired by Asian history. I loved how this book was about the defiance of Lei as she becomes a Paper Girl, and how it doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics of sexual assault, rape and female rights. The f/f relationship between her and Wren was also written beautifully.

8. The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This book was one of my unexpected favourite reads of the year, as it explores grief in a haunting and magical way. When her mother dies of suicide, Leigh goes back to her roots and visits her grandparents in Taiwan, where she’s haunted by a red bird. She visits her mother’s favourite childhood places, and learns more about her culture and family. As a biracial protagonist, it was lovely to hear from her perspective caught between two cultures.

7. Draekora by Lynette Noni

I’m so glad that I delved into the popular Australian magic school series, the Medoran Chronicles this year as it gets better with each and every book. Draekora, the third book in the series was definitely my favourite, not only because it has dragons, but because it also has the main character travelling back in time and getting to know her greatest enemy – before he turns evil. I was totally swept up in this intriguing plot especially knowing how everything ends up playing out in the future (or Alex’s current time period).

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I feel like reading The Name of the Wind is a rite of passage for fantasy lovers, and I’m pleased to say that I finally joined the bandwagon! I read this book on holidays and thoroughly fell in love with the magic system and the life and times of Kvothe. As a boy who becomes a legend, he recalls his story growing up and losing his parents, living on the streets, joining a famed Academy and honing his magical talents. There’s not much more I can say about this that hasn’t been said already, but if you love fantasy, I would definitely recommend giving it a shot.

5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

There’s always something compelling about books where the protagonist is dragged through hell and back, but manages to make the best of her circumstances, which is what I loved about The Cruel Prince. This incredible fae story features lots of political intrigue, fae mythology and one hell of an anti-hero main character. While the book definitely contains some visceral bullying and the romanticism of abuse, I loved the morally grey story.

4. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Speaking of morally grey characters, the 2nd book in the Villains series is filled with them. I love the dark storyline based on two geniuses who are obsessed with besting each other, often with deathly consequences. Vengeful was even better, with the addition of two badass female villains and a deeper plot centered around hunting down ExtraOrdinary people with powers. If you’re sick of the overdone superhero genre, but you’re craving for more, this is the perfect series to get stuck into.

3. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor does it again with Muse of Nightmares, the sequel to popular favourite Strange the Dreamer. Following on from Lazlo’s journey into the Weep, the book explores the consequences of people discovering the godspawn and an unavoidable confrontation with their creator. I loved how this book delved into Lazlo’s mysterious past, Minya’s traumatic memories and also introduced us to two new characters whose fate would become intertwined with the rest. It’s magical, compelling, beautifully written and complex, which you could only expect from Laini Taylor.

2. Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The conclusion to one of my favourite series of all time was bound to make this list – surprising no one. I cried so much when I picked up the third book to the Illuminae Files, even during quieter retrospective moments between the characters as they all fight together in Obsidio. We’ve spent two books getting to know the full cast of characters, and I loved seeing how they all interacted together. My favourite supercomputer A.I.D.A.N. also has a huge part to play here, and I love how the series ends. Also my name is in printed in the book which was exciting!

1. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

If you’re a fantasy lover and you pick one book to read from this list – it has to be The Poppy War, a military fantasy set in China where opium was widely used. Based on a dark period that has been lost to history, The Poppy War tells us the story of Rin, a poor girl who wants to join a military school and fight on behalf of her country. Set in a richly detailed world based off Chinese history, the story is filled with unforgettable characters, ancient wartime tactics and the gruesome brutality of war (trigger warnings abundant). This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read.

Check out Jenna’s Top 5 Books of 2018 here – especially if contemporary books are more of your jam!

Have you read any of these books? Were any of your favourites on this list?

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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30 responses to “Jeann’s Top 10 Books of 2018: Yes They’re All Fantasy

  1. I can’t wait to read The Astonishing Colour of After. I’m not sure if it’s considered magic realism, but I adore books that deal with an intersection between contemporary and fantasy, and it sounds like this book does it beautifully. I also desperately want to read The Cruel Prince (which sounds magical and brutal) and Strange the Dreamer (which sounds splendidly surreal).
    I hope 2019 brings you more brilliant books to read and love!
    Helia @ Rose Quartz Reads recently posted…My 2018 in BooksMy Profile

  2. I’m glad you had so many favourites this year, Jeann!

    Girls of Paper and Fire is such an important read, and I’m glad it’s out there in the world as I know the author wrote it – at least in part – as a safe space for sexual assault survivors to explore their feelings and what has happened to them.

    The only other book on your list that I’ve read is The Cruel Prince, and I was not a fan, haha. I’ll still read the sequel but it’s not a favourite.

    I really want to read The Astonishing Colour of After and Vengeful! I think I will love them both.

    I hope you read as many amazing books this year, Jeann! <3
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Review: Heartstopper Volume One by Alice OsemanMy Profile

  3. So, even though I didn’t really care for Cruel Prince, everyone says I have to give the next one a go, so I guess I shall. Also, I love how we either REALLY agree (Thunderhead) or really disagree (Obsidio and CP). BUT the good news is that I want to read a LOT of these (like so desperately NEED to read Girls of Paper and Fire and Poppy War, and Muse of Nightmares, and The Astonishing Color of After, like what even is my problem? ) so I am SO happy to see how much you loved them! I hope you find just as many gems in 2019 (if Baby Jeann gives you time 😉 )
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…January 2019 Discussion Challenge Link Up & GiveawayMy Profile

    • Yay, I hope you enjoy the Wicked King! I’ve just read it and thought Cruel Prince was better but it was still an intriguing read. There are SO many great books for you to pick up Shannon, I’m actually pretty excited! Haha I clearly don’t know what I’m in for with Baby Jeann on the way XD

  4. Bec

    YASSS for all the fantasy!!

    The only book I’ve read on this list is Obsidio because I’ve had a crappy reading year (no time for anything but work really booo) but many of them are on my TBR!

  5. Adesuwa Grace @ Somewhat Reserved

    I really want to read Vicious and Strange the Dreamer next year! I originally started them this year but was not able to read much, unfortunately.

  6. I’m currently midway though Girls of Paper and Fire – love it SO much! It defies the standard and it’s so raw and wonderful. I’m eager to get my hands on a copy of Muse of Nightmares. Strange the Dreamer was my favorite read of 2017. I got a lot of gift cards for Christmas, so I think I’m going to use them to purchase it!
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  7. I’ve read or started several of the books on this list. I was pleased to also have been killed off in Obsidio. It was super appropriate because it was at a time when I was figuring out that I was non-binary/trans, so my deadname being killed off was .

    Vengeful is so good. I’m pacing myself in case there are no more or it really takes 5+ years for more Villains.

  8. I’ve read 7 off your list and ALSO LOVE THEM SO MUCH. *flails for your excellent taste in books* I meant to get to The Poppy War but…yeah I failed there. Definitely will next year though. And omg Girls of Paper And Fire was so brutal but also so amazing and well written (!!!) and Obsidio gAH WHY WAS IT SO GOOD AND SATISFYING. I’m so glad it ended so well !!

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