What we bought: Our favorite books of 2022

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We may not have as much reading time as we do in the days of the COVID pandemic, but Engadget editors are still trying to pick, read, and reflect on the widest variety of this year’s best books. . Whether we learned how to use a pan, listened to life lessons from Hideo Kojima, or delved into the seeds of an alternate 1940’s San Francisco universe, here are some favorites. ours from 2022.

razzmatazz by Christopher Moore

cover razmatazz

Harper Collins

Classic noir cinema was a staple of my home growing up – I mean, my celebrity first love was People born in the year of the Dragon co-star of the series, Myrna Loy – so any story about the days when mugs were mooks and girls were ladies captures my heart. But People born in the year of the Dragon, like the rest of the media created at the time, presents only a very narrow, very manly, very white outlook on life. Christopher Moore’s latest novel, razzmatazz, add some much needed color to the black and white world of noir.

razzmatazz is the second title for Moore’s satirical murder mystery series, after 2019 black skin. In this latest installment, we return to San Francisco after World War II as bartender Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin and his band of out-of-the-or-so friends hustling for survival in the Mist City. blind. Now, helping to get rid of your best friend’s girlfriend’s abusive husband is one thing, but as the group soon learns, stealing a heirloom can be magical, certainly priceless, from the local Tong. The other side was a whole different story — and that was before some madman started killing the city’s drag kings.

razzmatazz is a clever and slightly quirky adventure mystery that features a diverse and evolving cast of characters, fast-paced action, seamless transitions between different views of said population, and no bogs in world building. Each page is about 350 pages, black skin and razzmatazz each will provide a solid weekend entertainment and if you’re still looking for more Moore then check out 2020 Shakespeare for squirrels. – Andrew Tarantola, Senior Editor

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Stylized double helix on a blue background

Penguin Randomhouse

I always look forward to Blake Crouch’s new releases because his writing is so lively and fast-paced, that I can see the cinematic version pop into my head as I devour his latest title. only after a few days. this year Upgrade no exception – we are in a world where gene editing is real but highly regulated, and we follow Logan Ramsay, a member of the Genome Protection Agency as he tries to capture keep those who may be involved in nefarious gene editing activities.

But after a violent encounter on a mission, Logan begins to feel less and more like himself. better version of yourself. He can read faster, he is physically healthier, and he needs less sleep. He soon discovers his genome has been hacked, and he also discovers he is part of a much larger plan that could change humanity as he knows it. As he works to stop this plan from being carried out, he is forced to confront some of the darkest parts of his past and the tarnished family legacy he worked so hard to hide. exit.

Crouch excels at putting readers in his protagonist’s shoes, forcing them to feel the same anxiety, fear, and confusion as his main characters. But to think that makes for an overall unpleasant reading experience is incorrect: Upgrade is a fascinating suspense ride that moves at breakneck speed, while at the same time raising a lot of questions about humanity as a whole. – Valentina Palladino, Senior Commercial Editor

Notes on an Implementation by Danya Kukafka

a broken locket on a purple background with black lettering

Harper Collins

On its face, Notes on an Implementation seems like a typical test of a serial killer. The novel begins with Ansel Packer counting down the last 12 hours before being executed for the murder of multiple women. But Danya Kukafka is much less interested in this killer because she is telling the story of three women who are all influenced by Ansel in some way. We follow Lavender, Ansel’s mother, as a lost teenager is pushed to the brink as she struggles to protect her children and herself; Hazel, Ansel’s sister-in-law, who watched her twin lose herself in this toxic relationship; and Saffy, the lead investigator on Ansel’s case with more potential trauma than you might expect buried just below the surface. But these women are not victims with the capital V. Instead, they work to reverse the story of the serial killer by focusing our attention on the fact that, despite everything, they survived. Notes on an Implementation is a dark, gripping story with lovely prose and a surprising, basic element of hope at the end of it all. – VP

our missing hearts by Celeste Ng

a feather melts into birds on a blue ombre background.  ugh reese witherspoon endorses this book for some reason

our missing hearts, in the great tradition of the near-future backward novel The Handmaid’s Tale or 1984, presents a vision of our country that feels too close to be comfortable. In Ng’s third novel, she writes about a 12-year-old boy named Bird and his father, who live in the United States, where laws that celebrate American precedence have been enacted after years of disobedience. economically and socially stable.

In this world, Asians have been seen as scapegoats for all of America’s evils; While Asian Americans are technically still free and full citizens, many of them are under police control and subject to varying degrees of violence from so-called “real” Americans. And any parent deemed non-American can have their children confiscated immediately – no questions asked. As in any good backward state, books deemed unpatriotic were confiscated and destroyed, including a collection of poems by Bird’s mother, a woman who had disappeared years earlier. .

This story is at the same time small and universal. The core of the story focuses on Bird trying to learn more about his mother and the circumstances of the world he lives in, and has only a handful of protagonists. At the same time, Ng deftly paints a plausible picture of an America succumbing to its worst instincts. Ng has repeatedly pointed out that all the crimes that are being committed in our missing hearts are things that are already happening in the United States or other parts of the world – not a pleasant thought.

But like this bleak world, the book is filled with moments of unexpected beauty and small triumphs. Perhaps most importantly, there is a sense that while a radical minority may now rule a more sensitive section of the population, there is still a way out of the shadows. our missing hearts It’s not a light story, but it’s an important one, artfully told by a writer who is able to skillfully combine a compelling story with profound social commentary. Ng may have made a huge impact in popular culture with Small flames everywhere (and its accompanying Hulu miniseries), but our missing hearts feels like her definitive work to date. – Nathan Ingraham, Associate Editor

Hideo Kojima’s Creative Gene

Hideo Kojima's Creative Gene

Simon and Schuster

Hideo Kojima is a video game designer known for metal gears series, popularizing the stealth genre and whose plot can be decently described as ridiculous. Shamefully perhaps, I’m a Kojima fan. His studio games are often in dire need of an editor and almost constantly draw the line between insight and stare. Sometimes, they also doesn’t seem to be possible treat their female characters with respect. But they are always bursting with ideas, trying things out with an unmistakable voice and a relentless, crushing seriousness. His post-apocalyptic delivery sim dead aground immediately amusing (a hard-to-kill character is called “die-HardmanAKA: John McClane, Of course), and is one of the most enthralling games I’ve played in the past decade.

I give you this background information to help explain why I am reading Kojima’s book, creative genes, this early year. (Technically, it was published in late 2021.) However, rather than tell some quirky tech thriller or a behind-the-scenes look at the game’s development, here’s an anthology. previously published essays on books, films, and other cultural objects that Kojima considers essential to who he is. Like his games, it may come close to hoax and self-mythologizing, but it’s surprisingly honest, personal, and anti-cynicism.

In many ways, the metal gears The game is about identity – who we are and how we get there. That’s more or less what Kojima gets here; In about 250 pages, he passionately talks about the things he likes with tangible inspiration, not to recommend them to consumers, but to explore how they have shaped his experience. More than a memoir, however, creative genes is an appreciation of how the art of all stripes can spark inspiration in a recyclable process.

Prose is nothing special, and there are certainly more essential themes out there. While you don’t have to be a gamer to understand something, there’s no harm in getting acquainted with Kojima’s work. Still, creative genesEveryone’s sincerity and enthusiasm is easy to appreciate in times of widespread distancing. – Jeff Dunn, Senior Trade Writer

The Sea of ​​Peace by Emily St. John Mandel

the fields with the moon rising over the distant hills

Penguin Randomhouse

Emily St. John Mandel gave one of her essential readings on the pandemic when she published glass hotel in March 2020. It’s not a small feat because she’s written the winning piece before station eleven, a novel set partly after the apocalyptic flu epidemic. Given that there is a gap of five years between station eleven and glass hotel, I dare not expect one of my favorite authors to come out with a new novel so soon and it will be as good as her previous works. Fortunately, Peace of the sea not disappointed.

It shares many of the same strengths as Mandel’s previous novels, including a great sense of atmosphere and prose that rewards careful reading. Peace of the sea also talking to station eleven and glass hotel in a way that will please fans. That doesn’t mean you need to read those books to enjoy her latest books, but it can make you look at them (and Mandel’s career) in a new light. Add to that themes that will resonate with anyone who’s lived in the past two years, and you’ll have one of the best books of 2022. – Igor Bonifacic, Weekend Editor


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