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2014: Best Books in Fiction

Check out our picks for the best fiction books of 2014! What was yours?

redeployment by phil klay

Redeployment is a collection of short stories dealing with the brutal aspects and aftermath of war—specifically the war in Iraq. Former Marine Phil Klay grips readers with tales that managed to win a National Book Award this year.

New York Times Book Review

2am

Aspiring nine-year old singer Madeleine Altimari is determined to make her debut at Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas. The novel follows Madeleine, her fifth grade teacher Sarina, and the Cat’s Pajamas club owner Lorca as their lives intersect—giving readers a sense of hope through music.

NPR Book Review

lila

lilaThe Pulitzer Prize winning author brings readers the third novel in her series which takes place back in Gilead, Iowa. The novel follows the John Ames’ wife Lila’s story from her first abandonment at birth to their meeting. This book tells Lila’s story of how they come together.

NPR Book Review

ill-give-you-the-sun

Jude gives off light, while Noah gives off dark—according to thirteen year old Noah. That is, until something happens that causes Jude to become the dark, unpopular one. This unique young adult tale is told from both siblings’ perspectives. The clever storytelling and dynamic characters get this book on our list.

New York Times Book Review

Anthony Doerr’s story focuses on two characters during the Nazi occupation of Paris—Marie-Laure, a blind girl who hides away with her father and Paris’ prized jewels, and Werner Pfennig, who serves as a technocratic private for the Nazis. The descriptive and realistic characters make this book one of the best of the year.

New York Times Book Review

The novel follows Ari, as she travels back to the Chinese orphanage she was adopted from and deals with feelings of confusion that provoke her to seek out her own identity. Kathryn Ma brilliantly examines the theme of identity—bringing in other parts of Ari’s adopted family who are also trying to find themselves.

New York Times Book Review

Sarah Waters takes readers back to London in 1922, where ex-servicemen are out of work and frustrated. In a South London villa, life is about to transform for widow and her spinster daughter Frances when they are obligated to take in lodgers Lilian and Leonard Barber. This work of historical fiction will keep you entertained as it is part love story, part crime story.

New York Times Book Review

Catherine Lacey’s first novel follows Elyria who wants “a divorce from everything” and runs away from her husband and home on Manhattan’s Upper West side in search of a new life in New Zealand. The 28 year old woman trying to find her place in a world of mixed feelings is wonderfully executed by Lacey.

New York Times Book Review

In The Children ActFiona Maye, a British High Court judge, must rule on the case of a 17-year-old boy who has refused a lifesaving blood transfusion for his leukemia based on religious beliefs. Her ruling to grant the hospital permission or keep Adam’s wishes will not only change his life, but hers.

New York Times Book Review

WE-WERE-LIARS

Cadence and her wealthy family summer on a private island near Martha’s Vineyard. This is where she meets outsider Gat Patil—with whom Cadence immediately falls in love with. While her mother and aunts drink and argue over fortunes, Cadence and the “liars”—which includes her two cousins and Gat explore and swear eternal allegiance to each other. But when Cadence is fifteen, she suffers an accident that leaves her with amnesia—leaving her to seek out the truth of what happened. We Were Liars is a great young adult novel with a mysterious twist.

New York Times Book Review

John Grisham’s latest legal thriller follows a young woman who is placed in the middle of a small town secret. Samantha Kofer has been fired from her NYC law firm when she is offered the opportunity to get her job back by volunteering at a legal aid clinic. In Brady, Virginia she enters the dangerous world of coal mining and learns that sometimes litigation can turn deadly.

Huffington Post Review

friendswood

Friendswood deals with multiple complex issues—like toxic chemical dumps and high-school sexual assault. However, Steinke manages to resolve both storylines—each finding their place is Friendswood. The theme of redemption shines through the end of this novel when each character finds a conclusion.

New York Times Review

Station Eleven is as much of a post-apocalyptic novel as it is a mystery. It follows Kirsten 20 years after a flu pandemic kills much of the world’s population. As one of the survivors, she travels around with a group performing Shakespeare to those who remain. However, when the group tries to reconnect with missing friends—only to find that a religious fanatic known as “the prophet” has taken over, things become quite dangerous.

New York Times Book Review

The novel follows the death of Lydia Lee, a high school student found at the bottom of a lake. Besides the obvious mystery of how she ended up there, the book really tackles the issue of race in the 1970s. Celeste Ng shifts between Lydia’s story and family speculations until she finally reveals the devastating conclusion.

New York Times Book Review

murakami-us

Murakami’s latest novel follows Tsukuru through a life mostly spent feeling alone. While associating friends with “colors” (their surnames are Red, Blue, etc.), he becomes colorless by default. Pain and self-evaluation are major themes present as Tsukuru suffers through this intense and thought-provoking novel.

New York Times Book Review

King uses the real life intersection of anthropologist Margaret Mead with her second and third husbands while in New Guinea as a starting point for her novel. Even though she changes the storyline of this tragic love triangle, their purpose to create a new social science discipline still rings true as they study a tribe along the Sepik River.

NPR Book Review

Taking place in the mid-1900s, the novel follows Eileen Tumulty as she strives for the American Dream and desires to be immersed in the cosmopolitan New York society. After marrying Ed, who doesn’t seem to aspire for the same things, a darkness enters their lives as they try and hold on to ideas of the future.

New York Times Book Review

The story how of astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded on Mars, plans on surviving the next of 1,412 days until the next Mars expedition gets there involves a lot of arithmetic. This science fiction debut celebrates human ingenuity while also serving as a warning of problems that may arise when entering the unknown.

Wall Street Journal Book Review

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