Friday, December 28, 2012

Best and Worst of 2012

Ah, nostalgia. Like most everyone else, I like to spend some time at the end of the year reflecting on everything that's happened: what I accomplished, what I didn't get done that I wanted to get done, what events were most notable. And, of course, I love to think about the good and bad in the world of entertainment. These lists are in no particular order--they're simply the things in each category that really stood out for me. So, without further ado, here are my lists:

Best Books I Read in 2012:

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

This was one of those books where, the entire time I was reading it, I found myself thinking, "Wow! Now I get it!" I'm very introverted, and this book made me feel so much better about being an introvert by helping me to better recognize my own needs. I recommend it to all introverts. I also recommend it to extroverts so that you can better understand the introverts in your life.

2. Angelfall by Susan Ee

I was grabbed on the first page and captivated right up until the extremely creepy and disturbing ending. Ee's world is vividly realized. I can't wait for book two.

3. Wool by Hugh Howey

Hugh has such a talent for writing characters. The love story in this book is so touching and the conclusion utterly devastating. I highly recommend it.

4. Isolation by Dan Wells

This novella fleshed out Heron's back story, which was awesome because I love Heron. A really interesting read about a fascinating and morally complex character.

5. The No Shelter trilogy by T.S. Welti

Talk about serious psychological tension! This is a gripping story about the destructive forces of human emotions that culminated in a climax that still has me reeling.

6. Practice Cake by Dalya Moon

A fun, fresh romantic comedy with an engaging female lead who makes an intelligent, informed choice about her love life. This is how romance ought to be done.

7. Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers

Assassin nuns. You really don't need me to say anything more.

8. Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

I was convinced I knew exactly who Warner was, and then Mafi went and pulled the rug out from under me. I have a great deal of admiration for the way she fleshed out a character who is much more than he appears.

9. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

There are so many parallels between this book and things happening today that it's eerie. A powerful piece of speculative fiction about the toll on society when women are subjugated.

10. Legend by Marie Lu

This book reads like the best video games have to offer: fun characters tackling impossible odds in a nonstop, action-packed thrill ride. Can I have Prodigy now, please?

Other Media (TV, video games, movies):

1.  The Hunger Games (movie)

I love the books, and I thought the movie was handled extremely well. Jennifer Lawrence makes an amazing Katniss. Is it time for Catching Fire yet?

2. Person of Interest (CBS)

Action-packed, this show really ramped up the emotional factor at times. I adore Finch and Reese, and I think Carter is one of the best female characters on television. Also, Fusco breaks my heart.

3. Bones (Fox)

My husband and I recently discovered this show and we are hooked. Though we're seasons behind, we're completely invested in the characters. They are such a quirky, unique bunch. Gormogon, you tore my heart out and stomped all over it.

4. Leverage (TNT)

I am so sad this show was just cancelled. It's a fun, modern day take on Robin Hood with a team of thieves who are wonderful characters with distinct backgrounds and personalities. I am really going to miss watching it.

5. Skyrim (video game)

Me playing this game: "Hmm, I think I'll do this quest. Oh, look, Dwemer ruins! I need to stop here first." (Five hours later) "Oh, right--I meant to do this quest." The open-endedness of this game never ceases to thrill me. I love that I can make my character the perfect hybrid of whatever skills I like, and that I can spend hours exploring the world and have a blast doing it.

6. Chronicle (movie)

This was one of those movies that really made you think--an excellent exploration of the dark side of humanity and the corrupting influence of power.

7. The Avengers (movie)

Comic book movies are always hit or miss with me, but this one was a big win. Lots of action, and yet there was still excellent character development. Can I have the sequel now, please?

8. Wreck-It Ralph (movie)

If you're like me and you grew up in the age of Atari, you'll love this movie. I had a ball picking out all the vintage games I once played. A fun romp through the history of video games.

9. 30 Rock (NBC)

I love Liz Lemon, love her. This show is hilariously weird, with a cast of some of the zaniest characters around.

10. Guild Wars 2

Inevitably, I become obsessed with an MMO for a period of months and then I fall off the wagon and never play it again. GW2 was no exception to that rule. However, it was an exception to many of the things that annoy me the most about MMOs. Some of the best features of the game were things like group events that allowed you to jump in on world boss battles if you just happened to be passing through the zone at the right time. I liked that the game doles out rewards to everyone, so there's no arguing over who gets what gear at the end of a raid. And allowing everyone to mine from the same ore vein or harvest the same blackberry bush in order to minimize the appeal of gold farming? Genius!

Biggest disappointments of 2012:

1. Mass Effect 3 (video game)

I've loved the ME series for years and have played the first two countless times. I was so excited for this game I could barely contain myself and then disaster struck: that ending! I can't even. I haven't been able to touch any of the ME games since, and I'm indifferent to the upcoming release set in the ME universe. I'm so disappointed in BioWare.

2. Revolution (NBC)

I wanted this show to be an awesome post-apocalyptic thrill ride. It wasn't. J.J. Abrams, I didn't think you could let me down like this.

3. Brave (movie)

Pixar finally releases a movie with a female lead and it was a crushing disappointment. I didn't think this was a bad movie, per se, but it didn't have anything like the charm of most Pixar movies. It started out so promising and then the disjointed plot fell apart. What would have been so bad about spending the whole movie focusing on the mother/daughter dynamic?

4. Fringe (Fox)

I was so excited that this series finale season would be set in 2036, but it might as well have been set in 2012. While I have liked some of the character-centric plots, I think the whole concept of Walter's scavenger hunt is ridiculous, and I keep waiting for them to do something other than sit around in the lab. And why doesn't anyone notice they're squatting in there? For supposedly being so uber, those Observers are not very observant, are they?