It’s September 1st! You know what that means…

Unlike my Films list, this month’s Top 5 blog was far easier to pen down than I expected. Not that I didn’t struggle or argue (with myself) over which select fanfics and novels deserve this rank versus that, or who had to get the axe in order for others to rise above. I did.

It’s always hard whittling away your favorite anythings, and though the favorites are my favorites for reasons ye shall read, just know that there are still hundreds of other books that take home an Honorable Mention award.

Keep on reading to find out!

So how did I select my books? And how could I stack fanfiction against real, actual published works of fiction? Well, if you know me, you know I see ZERO difference between fanfiction and published fiction. Oh, wait. There is one difference…

Fanfiction authors –coughs– don’t get paid to write whereas published authors do. And that’s the end of that argument. If you think I left out the whole “well, fanfiction is based off of someone else’s work!” plot point, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Most fanfiction authors, at least the serious ones who are more than likely published authors themselves, are better than the novels and novelists you see featured on Barnes and Noble’s storefront tables. Their passion and drive comes from within, not from a salary – this is not to say that all published authors see dollar signs and go running. I’m just stating *why *fanfic authors do what they do.

But yes, these writers fall in love with someone else’s characters and then take the bones and construct an entirely new body unto itself. Y**es the leading or supporting characters are not “original” in any way – insofar as their aesthetics. But …here’s a fun fact: nothing nowadays is original. Imagine if you will, that every story is a house constructed on another’s foundation. It’s the inevitable way of things.

Love, lust, loss, anger, hate, betrayal, deviances, darkness, etc. Everything is based upon an emotion that we all know and understand – it’s what comes after we begin to explore these human traits that makes all the difference.

I find all of this to be nothing short of amazing, and I won’t be persuaded to think otherwise. So, please, spare yourself the stress and elevated heart rate and don’t bother trying to talk to me about how one is superior to the other.

Moving on.

How did I choose my Top 5? Well, bulleted below are a few key points that every story I read must fulfill. If it surpasses these necessary requirements, then I’m set for life with re-readable material that I happily indulge in again from time to time. Some even yearly.

So, what tickles me?

  • Heart. The story has to have a beating, bleeding, screaming heart. What does this mean? It means exactly that – there needs to be a deep, visible connection, and lots of time building this up, between characters and/or their settings.
  • Intelligence. I cannot BARE to read another novel, fanfic or otherwise, that is poorly written. It may contain one of the best plot scenarios to date, but I won’t give it the time of day if there are obvious mistakes, repetition, run-ons, etc. These are all avoidable and I find the author painfully lazy if they can’t take time to do even the smallest of edits. I just…can’t stomach it. The last book series I barely made it through that is guilty of this creative high crime: Fifty Shades of Grey. Worst. Writing. EVER.
  • Adventure. I need some spice! I need some action! Not a whole book-length worth, but enough to get my blood flowing and my imagination running wild. Take me to places I’ve never been but dream everyday of visiting. Put me into situations I’d never dare to undertake! Just hit the ignition and take me along for the ride.
  • Science Fiction. Not every story requires this, but I do love me some sci-fi! Star Wars is chock-full of it and so for me to adore say, a SW story, it needs to be a STAR WARS story. Not that I don’t already read AU (alternate universe) fictions that see my favorites elsewhere in the galaxy, or even in modern days, but I prefer cantina’s, lightsabers and starships if I’m dedicating my time to reading a sci-fi epic.
  • The Good and the Bad. Real life is not roses and rainbows and I don’t expect my choice reads to be this either. I get physically ill (not really, but the gag reflex starts) if I read a story that sees the characters happy, fulfilled, la-la-la-ing and smiling from jacket to jacket. It’s unrealistic and so God-awfully boring, I just cannot. NEXT.
  • Chemistry. The final point is one that makes or breaks and entire novel or fanfiction. If the author neglects to create a chemistry between the main and supporting characters, or even a tension between the lead character and the reader themselves, I close that book faster than a flytrap snagging its lunch. There needs to exist a give-and-take, a snark, a love/lust/UST (unresolved sexual tension) or similar in every book I read. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you can’t relate to or identify with Main A and Main B, I won’t be able to understand or care about the story, at all.

There it is. The abridged must-have’s for me to even bother picking up a new novel or fanfic. And now, onto the Top 5 List:

Son of Suns Trilogy, by Blank101

Yes, my #1 story of all time is a fanfiction. Written by a man who’s name I don’t even know. It’s a Star Wars AU trilogy, the length of the Bible and the best thing I’ve ever, ever read. It has everything I never knew I needed in one story and so much more. Surprisingly, it does exist on Goodreads, so you can find its synopsis’ there. Artists have also created fan art dedicated to it (book 2 in the series is above!) and that’s what I used here for the “book cover.” I honestly could talk about this giant’s giant of a fic forever but really, words could never do it justice enough. It is PERFECTION.

The Martian, by Andy Weir

Up until I read Son of Suns, this was my favorite novel. The science (holy shit the science and intelligence of this book), the adventure, the snark and wit – it is pure magic. The movie (Matt Damon, you’re one hot Martian) wasn’t as good as I had hoped it to be, but the book is nothing shy of a knockout. I flew through it in a matter of days and immediately wanted to read it over again. I didn’t, because I like to savor things and let my mind ruminate and settle, but damn, this book. Read it. Read it read it read it.

Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown

I know, I know. Everyone loved these books so fiercely when they came out, and then the Catholic church condemned them and …everyone loved them more. Being a Catholic, I don’t really care for the Church’s opinion on these novels, as it’s just their way, but for me? This book soared. It is easily the best of the bunch and one of my favorite movies to put on at any time. The story is dripping with adventure and yes, in some cases, facts do play a part (locationally speaking). It’s exciting, riveting, and heart-pumpingly good. You feel like you’re in Italy, thrown into the action and fighting against science and man while trying to maintain a balance of truth and faith. Also: Tom Hanks. So, win. If you’ve not taken the plunge with this one, I suggest you do sometime soon!

* The Passage, by Justin Cronin*

Another science-fiction novel with a little bit of horror mixed in. Well, a lot a bit if you’re the kind that can’t really stomach that kind of thing. The Passage is part of a trilogy that I have yet to complete – I’m beating myself up about this, too, don’t worry. But book 1 is simply sublime. Long, in-depth, and touches on every one of my bullet points above. It creates new species and abolishes mankind as we know it. It’s intelligent and heartbreaking and so beautiful. Run along and buy it now.

The Stand, by Stephen King

This beast. This ridiculously amazing beast of a story. Light versus dark, good versus evil. Apocalypse and man’s (and woman’s!) survival. I see a general theme to my taste in fictions, that’s for sure. And The Stand fits into this so perfectly…if not started it all, to be honest. I read this before reading any of the other fictions on this list and I was completely, unapologetically, engrossed into this tale of what could happen in the end of humankind and the special forces that are always at play, whether we acknowledge them or not. Fantastic tale, beautifully written – this was one of those times when Stephen was at his best and it shines through so well. You’re off to Amazon to buy this now, right?

So there you have it! Top 5 Fanfictions/Novels. Surprised there was only one fanfic actually included but the other contenders either haven’t been finished yet, or are all but abandoned. Which okay, is the second difference between fanfic and published work. wink

Discussion: Are any of your favorites featured on this list? If not, what are some of yours? I’m always looking for new material! Also, I left out non-fictions, of which I do read, because I felt it would have muddied the pot a little. Perhaps I’ll give them their own blog one day.