7 Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books That Stole My Heart In 2021

December 28th, 2021

*To be more accurate, it's six sci-fi and one fantasy book, but that wouldn't look so good in the title :p

2021 has been an amazing reading year for me. I've discovered lots of wonderful books and authors, both indie and traditionally published. As the year is coming to an end, I'd like to look back at them and take a moment to celebrate the ones that made my heart beat faster with you <3

These are the books that made the biggest impression on me, the ones that stood out, the ones that took me on unforgettable adventures in fascinating worlds. I'll share them in the order I read them. All the images include alt-text.

1. Autonomous - An Exciting Near Future Cyberpunk / Hard Sci-Fi

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz cover: dark green-blue background, a chained detached robotic arm. Caption: '[Newitz is] and excellent writer with an effortless style.' - San Francisco Chronicle

My year started strong with this engrossing novel! I loved the cyberpunk setting, the tension, the fact that a lot of characters were activists and belonged to the counterculture, the futuristic technology and the complexity of the protagonists who had opposing goals.

You might enjoy Autonomous if you are into cyberpunk, hard sci-fi, interested in the future of technology, society and culture and don't mind receiving lots of information some of which might be beyond your grasp (also, some weird human-robot stuff).

Get the book at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple Books and other retailers or read the complete review.

2. After Atlas - A Captivating Cyberpunk Mystery

After Atlas by Emma Newman cover: navy blue / violet background, an outline of a man in the same colors, merging with the background, bright specks around him. Caption: 'Cathartic and transcendent.' - The New York Times on Planetfall

An amazing introduction to the Planetfall series that can be read as a standalone. I recommend the whole series — each book is amazing and unique.

After Atlas got me hooked from the very first pages and didn't let me go until the end. I loved the world and the protagonist, raged at the injustices together with him and hated the antagonist. The mystery kept me invested and intrigued, and the story was so clear and easy to read that I was completely immersed in the narrative with nothing to pull my attention away.

You might enjoy the book if you like crime mysteries (I believe you don't even have to be into sci-fi for it), cyberpunk / dystopian settings, exploration of the impact advanced tech has on society and individuals and shows like Black Mirror.

Get the book at Apple books, Barnes&Noble, Amazon, Google Play and other retailers or read the complete review.

3. The Light Brigade - An Ingenious And Mind-Bending Military Sci-Fi Thriller

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley cover: blue background, a glowing figure of a soldier in a helmet surrounded by light.

This book is unlike anything I've ever read! I couldn't put it down. There is so much in it that I loved: the plot twists, the complexity and ingenuity of its structure, the clever observations about human nature, the intimate first person narration, the flawed protagonist who gets a chance to grow, the criticism of some of the real-world issues, the originality. It's a great and well-written story, but what made it stand out most was the way it was told.

You might enjoy the book if you like military and time travel sci-fi, mind-bending thrillers, non-linear stories and don't mind gore / violence / death.

Get the book at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Google Play and Kobo or read the complete review.

4. Nophek Gloss - An Imaginative Space Opera Filled With Adventure

Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen cover: A sleek black spaceship, dark background with outlines of something that might be buildings or other spaceships. Quote by Alastair Reynolds: "A sucker punch to the senses. A killer story with real heart and soul."

I fell deeply in love with Nophek Gloss. It's not just a book, it's a sensory and emotional experience, a roller coaster, an adventure that doesn't hesitate to throw the reader into the darkest depths of cruelty and trauma only to lift us to the vulnerability of caring and the naive search for justice in an unfair world. Alastair Reynolds's quote featured on the cover perfectly represents my feelings: "A sucker punch to the senses. A killer story with real heart and soul."

I was completely immersed in the world of Nophek Gloss and enjoyed the book from the very beginning to the very end. It just had all the right ingredients for me: captivating plot, deep characters that felt real, complex and strange world that excited my imagination, high stakes and raw emotion. It's a long book, the kind of long that made me happy every time I realized I still had many pages to read because I didn't want it to end.

You might enjoy Nophek Gloss if you are into space operas with some classic tropes, imaginative world-building and don't mind violence, gore, trauma, animal abuse or technology that isn't based on real science.

Get the book at Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble and other book stores or read the complete review.

5. Aestus Book 1: The City - An Epic Dystopian Adventure / Cli-fi

Aestus Book 1: The City by S.Z. Attwell cover: huge red sun painting the landscape red, silhouettes of distant buildings in the background.

This novel gripped me immediately. I couldn't put it down, as it was one of the most engaging and compelling books I've read. I was pulled right into the story from the very first moments. The author did a great job keeping the tension high and the action coming. Spiced up with some romance and unexpected reveals, it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. All of that combined with great writing, masterful pacing, fascinating world-building and interesting, lovable characters made for an incredibly enjoyable read.

It's the first in a series, and I immediately proceeded to the sequel after finishing it.

You might enjoy Aestus Book 1: The City if you like epic adventures, high tension and dystopian settings.

Get the book on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo and other retailers or read the complete review.

6. The Chrysillium Tree - A Beautiful And Imaginative Fantasy Adventure

The Chrysillium Tree by Laken Honeycutt cover. Creamy white cover, minimalist design. A symbol of a tree locked in a hexagon. There are stars in the branches and the roots are visible.

I loved everything about The Chrysillium Tree. The alluring world, exciting events and likeable characters, the overall atmosphere created by the beautiful imagery, lore and the author's writing style. It is a kind book that left me in a good mood, even though there were painful and bloody moments, loss and death. It explores colonialism and oppression, as well as the relationship between humans and nature while telling an exciting story.

You might enjoy the book if you like fantasy adventures, lore and books that are uplifting even though they have their heavy moments.

Get The Chrysillium Tree at Amazon, Kobo, Thalia, Barnes&Noble and other retailers or read the complete review.

7. The Calling - A Post-Apocalyptic Hope Punk YA Adventure

The Calling by Branwen OShea cover. A huge door open to the expanse of snow and a starry sky, mountains in the background. A small person in warm clothes with a rifle on their back standing in the doorway, facing the view. Bright light in front of them.

I loved The Calling! It started a bit slow, allowing for a deeper understanding of the two completely different cultures populating the Earth. The tension kept building up, leading to spectacular action scenes, epic adventures, painful losses, personal tragedies and drastic changes for everyone.

Despite some people's violence and cruelty, it is a hopeful story. It explores the relationships that humans have with each other, the environment and the animals, questioning the status quo and offering a glimpse into how things could be done differently. It clearly demonstrates how aggression is born out of fear and invites the reader to reexamine their understanding of their place in the world. Ultimately, it is a story about love in a fascinating setting during the ide age.

You might enjoy the book if you like sci-fi YA adventures and hopeful narratives.

Get The Calling on Amazon or read the complete review.

Featured image by nallabeli pavan.

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