2013 was a great year for my encounters with debut novels — first novels from new authors, and first-time excursions into young adult fiction from established adult fic authors, and even an editorial debut. Starting with Leonard Richardson's incredible Constellation Games, and moving onto books like Mur Lafferty's long-awaited major press debut The Shambling Guide to New York City, Richard Kadrey's YA debut Dead Set, and many others. Click through for the full list — it makes great holiday reading!
Ariel Blum is an Austin-based game-developer with a crappy job making Pony franchise collectible content games for the ten-year-old Brazilian girl market. Then aliens invade the Earth. The Constellation is a coalition of many alien species who have travelled unimaginable distances to invite the Earth to join their loose-knit, non-coercive, freewheeling anarcho-syndicalist collective civilization, which has more than 100 million years' worth of history. Amazon/Full review
World Fantasy Award-winning novelist Nnedi Okorafor's debut young adult novel is Akata Witch, a beautifully wrought hero's journey story about Sunny, a young girl with albinism born to Nigerian parents in America, and then returned to Nigeria, where she discovers that she is a Leopard Person — a born sorcerer. Full review
The Shambling Guide to New York City is the first volume in a new series of books about Zoe Norris, a book editor who stumbles into a job editing a line of travel guides for monsters, demons, golem-makers, sprites, death-gods and other supernatural members of the coterie, a hidden-in-plain-sight secret society of the supernatural. Full review
Richard "Sandman Slim"
Kadrey's publishers have released Dead
Set, a young adult novel about a San
Francisco teenager who ventures into the Egyptian underworld to rescue
her punk father from the clutches of an evil moon-goddess. Full review
Emily Pohl-Weary's Not Your Ordinary Wolf-Girl is an absolutely fabulous new young adult novel about a painfully shy rock-star who gets bitten by a werewolf. Sam Lee is 18 years old and not entirely comfortable with the stellar trajectory of the Cream Puffs, the power-trio she founded in art school, only to be "discovered" by a manager who turned them into an overnight sensation. Although Sam writes the songs, she's happy to leave the spotlight to her two bandmates, and retreat to the shadows and nurse her crippling shyness. Full review
Zombie Baseball Beatdown is Paolo Bacigalupi's debut middle-grades novel; it's unmistakably a Bacigalupi novel, but shows off a remarkable ability to change registers without losing any of his distinctive voice. Rabi is a young boy of east Indian descent, living in small-town America, where the main employer is a giant, industrial meat-packing plant whose workers include a number of undocumented workers. Among these are the parents of Miguel, one of Rabi's best friends. Rabi and Miguel's crew is completed with Joe, an all-American young man with abusive, distant parents. They pal around together, they have each others' backs, and they play on a little league team together. Full review