Best of 2018 — halfway through
Every year when I cobble together some best-of-the-year list from half-remembered this and that, I always end up remembering stuff from the last few months instead of the whole year, and feeling like that’s all unfair. So, in an effort to work around that, and trusting that I actually come back and LOOK at this in five months, but mostly because I’m just now thinking of it, here’s my favorites so far:
Everything here is just working so well: the world is deep and well thought-through, the characters are engaging, the dialogue is spot-on, the art is evocative and expressive, and just the, the comic booking, it’s firing on every cylinder there is. Too, I wonder if vol.2 of My Favorite Thing is Monsters is slated for this year? If so, that could contend with Descender. For my money, not sure what else could.
This is King in high, high form. Dude’s just so good on the page, so good in this novel. It’s got the kind of . . . I’ve heard it called ‘geezer lit,’ I guess, but it’s got that going on—and that’s a compliment, understand—which we know and love from the Bill Hodges trilogy, but more than that, it’s got some killer horror, and the kind of premise that is also the pitch, which is what you always want with a story. Seriously, The Outsider is very, very good.
Yeah, that there’s a 72 Chevy on the cover does kind of automatically mean I’ll love this book. But the story and the world and the writing are also all there, and working perfectly. This is the strongest debut I’ve seen in a long while—well, since Andy Davidson’s In the Valley of the Sun, anyway. So excited for the next one.
Science Fiction Novel:
What am I doing with my life that I don’t think I have one of these yet? I actually read more sf than horror, even. No excuse. Well, except I forgot to write something down. Martha Wells’ Murderbot stuff’s fun, but that’s novella. I’m about to read Scalzi’s Head-on, which I know will be a blast. Weird that this category is empty. Kind of suspicious I forgot to write something down. I feel books slipping through my fingers . . .
Far and away, this book. This dude can seriously write. I learned so much about exposition-handling and pacing from reading this book, but I was also getting some fascinating, compelling information and dramatizations. Was cool that the writer was the voice on the audio version, too. Can’t recommend this one enough:
Book that isn’t Horror but is ABOUT Horror:
A new category, yeah. Can’t seem to dredge up a high-res image (would scan mine in, except it’s miles from me right now), but this should do:
Horror Movie (Theatrical):
This movie does it all, and does it so well: gore, jumpscares, soundtrack, heart, great final girl—it’s like it’s made to order especially for me. And? I didn’t much care for the first installment in this series. This one’s completely better, though. Also, you see I slipped that “Theatrical” in up there. It’s cheating, just so I can get these two VODs in:
This movie, man. Wow. Also? This is like exactly where and how I grew up: we all knew, in high school, that rodeo was our only real way out. I fully expect this one to sweep all the awards. However, talking non-horror but still pretty brutal, Cold Hell does everything right:
If The Hitman’s Bodyguard was 2018, it’d definitely be up here as well. Coco too. And, man, Uncle Drew: that movie’s got it going on. Really dug it. It might be up there with The Rider by December.
This is trickier, as I never seem to watch things when they’re actually going on. I mean, Superstore, sure, but it’s off-season right now. And there’s no Breaking Bad or Deadwood or Hannibal happening that I know of (is there? I mean, GoT’s on hiatus . . .). So, for me, what I can’t wait to get to the next episode of, and will be through with by year’s end, I expect, is:
I think the short seasons of this really condense the story such that each episode is revealing and exciting and funny and painful and sexy and action-y—all the things we come to drama for.
And, I should really figure out what my favorite stand-up special’s been—Chappelle, of course, but which Chappelle—and I need a podcast category as well (Shock Waves or Supporting Characters or Switchblade Sisters . . .), and probably music/album as well (like I’ve ever been up-to-date with that since 1988?), but, right now, it’s time to get back to either reworking the now-novel or audiobooking another chapter of Dan Simmons’ The Terror* or slamming through to the end of Steve Alten’s excellent-so-far Meg, so as to be ready for the movie in August.
Anyway, July-deep into 2018, those up there are where it’s been at for me—wait, wait, impulse category:
Who knows when it’s actually from, but I only saw it a few months ago. Everything that’s inside me, it’s in this image, this text, this perfect union of the two:
* I keep wanting the monster to be a giant ice sloth that’s gone marine somehow, though I’d halfway guess it may actually be an Alaskan Bull Worm †
† (please don’t tell me‡)
‡ I mean, unless it IS from SpongeBob . . .