2022 Troxellian Literary Awards: The Winners!!!1
This year, I released the first three books in my post-apocalyptic series, AFTER THE END, so the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres were well represented on my reading list over the past 12 months (and on this awards list).
The nominees are limited to the books I read in the past 12 months and can be found here. All winners were chosen by me and the results are indisputable. Novels, graphic novels, and non-fiction are fair game in all general categories, but there are specific genre awards as well.
Here are your winners ...
The “DON'T THREATEN ME WITH A GOOD TIME” Award
This award goes to the book that I had the most fun reading during the year. Maybe it wasn't the best written or most literary but it was just a good time! And the Troxell goes to…
The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
A literary novel has never won this award ... UNTIL NOW! John Irving is my favorite living author, and I had a blast reading Hotel New Hampshire flavored with Irving's usual absurdist and dark comedy. This novel is bonkers! There's a pet bear and a farting dog that comes back from the dead and a hotel full of terrorists and prostitutes and the main romantic angle is between a brother and sister. What other writer could make terrorism and incest hilarious? "Keep passing those open windows."
Honorable mention: Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore
The “Young at Heart” Award
This award goes to the best YA book I read this year. And the Troxell goes to…
Pure by Julianne Baggott
YA dystopian is pretty played out at this point so there has to be a unique twist to hold my interest. Pure fits the bill with a nuclear blast that melds humans with a variety of objects - a girl with a doll's head for a hand, a kid melted together with his brother, a boy with a flock of birds melted into his back. The story is kinda meh, but I'd love to see it as a film just for the visuals. Super creepy!
The “Fine Wine” Award
This award goes to a classic work of literature that totally lives up to its own hype. And the Troxell goes to…
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I've seen Things Fall Apart sitting on bookshelves for years, and I'm pretty sure I was supposed to read it in college but never did. I was missing out! Not only was it incredibly well written, but I found the tale of Okonkwo and the rapid deterioration of his tribe thanks to European colonization to be haunting and tragic. An entire way of life is lost forever. The book is definitely a classic for a reason.
The “‘Didn’t See That Comin’” Award
This award goes to a book I enjoyed way more than I expected to. And the Troxell goes to…
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Most people are familiar with the movie but few people have read the book that serves as the basis for the film. I've been searching for this book for years and finally managed to hunt down a copy. Because I love the movie so much, I expected to feel very MEH about the novel, but I was wrong. The book IS the movie but with additional scenes and longer backstories for the characters (I can't forgive the film for erasing the Zoo of Death!). I shouldn't have been surprised since Goldman wrote the book and the screenplay, but I enjoyed the book as much as the movie. I'm surprised more people don't talk about the book. Check it out if you're a fan.
Honorable Mention: Severance by Ling Ma
The “‘Be Kind Rewind” Award
This award goes to a book I reread this year and found to be just as good (or better) than the first time. And the Troxell goes to…
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I've read The Handmaid's Tale twice before, but, man, reading it in 2022 hit differently. I was in the middle of watching the Hulu series when Roe vs. Wade was overturned. The dystopian nightmare where women lose their individual rights and are forced into reproductive slavery didn't seem so far-fetched anymore. The world-building, storytelling, and writing are all stellar, but it's the powerful narration (cold and void of emotion) that stays with you. Why are we determined to make all the worst dystopian visions a reality?
The “BEST IN THE WORLD” Award
This award goes to the best book I read during the year. The best book ... IN THE WORLD! And the Troxell goes to…
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
The best book this year was always going to be a post-apocalyptic novel. The Stand has always been the bar when it comes to the genre. It's one of my top-ten favorite books of all time. Well, folks, there's a new sheriff in town. As good as The Stand is, Swan Song is better (and it was first). This is the quintessential post-apocalyptic read. In the book, World War III goes down with the United States and Russia engaging in a nuclear war. Pretty much everyone dies. The good survivors gather. The bad survivors gather. Chaos ensues.
This is a looooong epic with fantasy elements sprinkled in with the post-apocalyptic goodness. Lots of interesting characters, lots of violence, and definitely the kind of epic conclusion you would expect from this kind of novel (It doesn't shit the bed in the third act like The Stand). Oh, and bonus points for one of the best character names ever. Sister Creep? Love it! And she's a good guy!
Honorable Mention: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (also post-apocalyptic and also great)
There you have it! The best books of 2022 (definitely not written in 2022). Here's to another year of good books and good friends!
If you want to start your 2023 reading list with some BANGERS, check out my post-apocalyptic series, AFTER THE END.