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Need a new mystery or sci-fi book for the new year? Try one of these reads


As 2022 slides into 2023, we've got some reading recommendations from NPR's Books We Love. Today, several of our co-workers have reviews for fantasy, mystery and sci-fi.


HAFSA FATHIMA, BYLINE: Hi, I'm Hafsa Fathima. I'm a producer at Pop Culture Happy Hour, and I enjoy losing my mind over great science fiction. "Nona The Ninth" by Tamsyn Muir is a great example of this. It's the third book in "The Locked Tomb" series and focuses on Nona. She has no idea who she is, can't recall her past, and she lives in a galaxy basically in the middle of a civil war. Her caregivers, Camilla and Pyrrha, seem to know more than she does, but they just won't tell her what's going on. The book picks up after the events of "Harrow The Ninth," answers some pretty important plot questions, but then it goes on to create some more new chaos. I can't say too much without spoiling it, but you can expect some necromancy, bad jokes and plot twists. And I cannot recommend it enough.


NICOLETTE KHAN, BYLINE: I'm Nicolette Khan, and I'm part of NPR's Research, Archives and Data Strategy team. One of my favorite books this year was "Birds Of Maine" by Michael DeForge. It's a graphic novel about a futuristic and very advanced lunar bird civilization.


KHAN: I would categorize this book as a work of speculative biology or speculative evolution, which is not a genre I was familiar with until trying to describe this book. There are fungal laneways, library orgies and a universal worm diet, but also familiar dramas like completing manuscripts, falling in love and bands breaking up. Everything about this book is fun. DeForge's lines and shapes are simultaneously geometric and organic. The colors are really bold. The dialogue is so wonderfully bizarre but mundane. I laughed out loud a lot and had some lively group chat conversations based on snapshots from this book.


LEAH DONNELLA, BYLINE: My name is Leah Donnella. I'm an editor with NPR's Code Switch team. And one of my favorite books this year was "The Daughter Of Doctor Moreau" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The book is a play on the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic, "The Island Of Doctor Moreau," and it's told largely from the perspective of Moreau's daughter, Carlota, who lives with her father on a fairly isolated estate in the middle of Mexico's Yucatan.


DONNELLA: When the book begins, you find out fairly quickly that Dr. Moreau is doing experiments that combine human DNA with animal DNA from monkeys, jaguars, goats, all sorts of things. Carlota helps him with this research. Theoretically, it's supposed to be helping find cures for human ailments, including Carlota's own mysterious illness. But as the book goes on, we learn that these experiments go way further than anyone realized and that their true purpose is far more complex and sinister than anyone, including Carlota, has been led to believe.


SELYUKH: You heard about "The Daughter Of Doctor Moreau," "Birds Of Maine," and "Nona The Ninth." And if you want to see more reviews, check out our Books We Love list at npr.org/bestbooks.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leah Donnella
Leah Donnella is an editor on NPR's Code Switch team, where she helps produce and edit for the Code Switch podcast, blog, and newsletter. She created the "Ask Code Switch" series, where members of the team respond to listener questions about how race, identity, and culture come up in everyday life.
Nicolette Khan