And – aside from the predictable Mayan-powered storylines – it was an incredible year for apocalyptic fiction, in terms of quality as well as thematic diversity.
Some major series ended in spectacular fashion – namely Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy, and Sophie Littlefield’s Aftertime saga – while a bumper crop of excellent debut novelists released some extraordinary novels. In fact, almost a third of the titles on my year’s best list are from first time novelists: Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles, Steven John’s Three A.M., and Oliver Chiapco’s self-published medical thriller The Final Race.
I also found it interesting how so many of the releases on my year's best list for 2012 were virtually unsung. Novels like John's Three A.M., Evenson's Immobility, and Brian Francis Slattery's Lost Everything were powerful, courageously unique reads that should have received much more praise – and commercial success – than they did.
• “The Aftertime trilogy is Littlefield’s magnum opus – just a timeless, towering work of apocalyptic fiction.”
I’ll say it right now: with the conclusion of historically significant series like Grant’s Newsflesh and Littlefield’s Aftertime, I find it hard to believe that 2013 will be as strong a year for apocalyptic fiction as ’12 and ’11. But I would love to be proved wrong!
So, without further ado, here are my favorites from 2012:
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.