And the Winner for Brian W. Foster’s Best Book Read in 2012 is…

There are two ways to handle clichés – avoid them or embrace them.  I choose the latter, and what can be more cliché than a blogger who does book reviews picking his best book for the year?

Answer – A blogger posting his New Year’s Resolutions, but that’ll have to wait for tomorrow.

Without further ado, on to the choosing of the not-quite-coveted Brian W. Foster’s Best Book of 2012 Award.

The criteria is simple: the book chosen has to be –

  1. One that I finished reading during the calendar year of the award.
  2. Not a book written by me.
  3. In my opinion, the best book I read for that year.

I find that, for an award such as this, it’s better to get the perspective of time.  I tend to write reviews immediately after finishing a book, and both the strengths and negatives remain fresh in my mind.  Once I put some distance between the book and me, I can determine if it stuck with me.  If I forgot that I even read it, it’s probably not a strong candidate.  If, after several months, I look back fondly on it, it deserves consideration.

For 2012, I had two strong contenders.

The runner up for the award is Benjamin Clayborne’s Queen of Mages.  You can read my review of it here.  I love the premise of the book – magic is introduced into a world where none had existed – and I love that the book is character driven.  Overall, a strong contender but edged out by the winner on a purely subjective basis.

And the winner is…

Critical Failures by Robert Bevan.   You can read my review here.  Longtime readers of my blog will remember that I value the book’s ability to engage me as a reader more than any other quality, and this one was so entertaining that I found it hard to put down.  I don’t search out humorous books, but I’m glad I found this one.  A good, character-driven story that incorporates laugh-out-loud humor is a great find.

Review of Critical Failures

In Critical Failures, Mr. Bevan introduces us to a humorous tale of a group of slackers who, for not taking Caverns and Creatures seriously enough, are sentenced by the Cavern Master to experience it for real.  Unfortunately for the players, they have to live with the consequences of their actions from when it was just a game.

Why to buy this book: It’s well written and fast paced.  It’s easy to become immersed in the world.  Besides that, it’s laugh out loud funny.  Literally.  My wife had to tell me to quiet down a couple of times so as not to wake the little one.  The best thing about the humor, though, is that it flows from the characters and the story instead of seeming contrived for the sake of a laugh. 

Why not to buy the book: Though the plot contains quite a bit of adventure, one of its primary charms is its humor, and I’m not sure you’ll catch all of it if you’re not familiar with role-playing games.  The most serious negative to me (with the caveat that I really enjoyed this book) is that I didn’t find the characters all that likeable.  They fit the story well, and Mr. Bevan brought them to life.  I could see these guys sitting around a pizza shop playing D&D (excuse me, C&C).  The problem is that I wouldn’t enjoy being around them very much as they didn’t seem to have a lot of redeeming qualities.

Bottom Line: I try to save 5 stars for my favorite books of all time like Eye of the World and Name of the Wind, so I couldn’t stretch quite that high for this one.  It’s a solid 4, maybe even 4.5 though.  I do recommend giving it a read if you’ve ever done RPG’s.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book; I did not receive a promotional copy.  However, Mr. Bevan is a member of a writer forum that I frequent.  In exchange for this honest review, it is anticipated that he will provide an honest review of Power of the Mages when it is released.