10 Incredible Books That Didn't Get Nearly Enough Attention In 2017

by Charlotte Ahlin

As 2017 finally limps to a close, it's fun to reflect on all the great books we read this year, as well as all the books we can't wait for in 2018. From Lincoln in the Bardo to The Hate U Give to Little Fires Everywhere, this year brought us some incredible new fiction and instant classics. As you peruse the lists of award winning bestsellers, though, and start marking your calendar for all the big book releases of next year, take a moment to pour one out for some of the books that didn't make every single "best of" list. Here are a few criminally underrated books from this past year.

You might not have come across these books on recommendation lists. You might not even have noticed them at the book store. But these new releases should be getting a little more love from the reading public. On this list you'll find science fiction thrillers and historical dramas, YA coming of age stories and at least one dragon. All of them are overlooked gems in their own right. So check out some of these under-exposed books from 2017, and make sure they get the attention (and wider readership) they deserve before the year is out:

'The Ice' by Laline Paull

In her stunning follow up to The Bees, Laline Paull takes us all on a sea voyage to the rapidly melting arctic. It's the near future, and tourists are trying to catch a glimpse of the almost-extinct polar bear. The passengers of the Vanir find something far more sinister than a bear, though: they find a dead, human body. That's just the start of this captivating sci-fi thriller, a must-read for sci-fi fans and environmentalists everywhere.

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'Black Moses' by Alain Mabanckou

It's hard enough being a little boy named Tokumisa Nzambe po Mose yamoyindo abotami namboka ya Bakoko. But "Moses," as he's called, has greater misfortunes than just an unwieldy name: he lives at an orphanage run by a political stooge, where he's constantly tormented by his fellow orphans. When Moses finally escapes, though, he finds that the world outside the orphanage might be even more treacherous. Black Moses is a hilarious, tragic, larger-than-life story in the Dickensian vein of Oliver Twist.

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'The Invisible War: A Tale on Two Scales' by Ailsa Wild

Yes, this is a graphic novel about dysentery, but don't let that put you off. The Invisible War follows one nurse in France, 1916, during a bloody battle of WWI. The true drama of this book is not out on the battlefield, though, deep inside Annie's gut. That's where her resident microbes fight valiantly to ward off a strain of lethal bacteria in this inventive, gripping tale of courage and disease.

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'Spoonbenders' by Daryl Gregory

The Amazing Telemachus Family was once well-known for performing feats of magic on late-night talk shows. Each family member boasted a different "gift," from astral projection to telekinesis. But after a humiliating failure, the family retired to Chicago to live in obscurity. Now Matty, grandson of the Telemachus patriarch, is discovering some of the family magic in himself. He's just in time to face the CIA, mafia, and other skeptics who threaten his family's very existence.

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'The Island Will Sink' by Briohny Doyle

Environmental disaster has come and gone. Now the surviving pockets of humanity live under EcoLaw, enforced by cartoon pandas and insidious viral marketing. The "entertainment" of this not-so-distant future consists of watching Pitcairn Island sink into the Pacific and waiting for the end of days. And in the midst of this is Max Galleon, a man who struggles with his memory and who blurs the lines between the real and the unreal.

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'The Authentics' by Abdi Nazemian

Daria Esfandyar always keeps it real. She and her friends call themselves "The Authentics." They're not ashamed of their Iranian-American heritage, unlike those posers in their rival clique, "The Nose Jobs." While researching a school project, however, Daria uncovers a family secret that sends her entire social life into a tailspin. Now she has to figure out the truth of her own identity, plan the perfect Sweet Sixteen party, and keep the peace with her friends, all while hiding a forbidden romance.

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'Loopholes: Microfiction' by Susan McCreery

Loopholes is a collection of microfiction about everyday life. That's it, that's the whole premise. But Susan McCreery has taken that simple set up and delivered these beautifully crafted little windows into the vulnerable, frustrating realities that we all face everyday. Here you'll find extremely short stories about family, love, aging, and loss, told with wit and deeply felt empathy.

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'The Tea Dragon Society' by Katie O'Neill

The Tea Dragon Society is just about perfect. With gorgeous illustrations and heartfelt dialogue, Katie O'Neill introduces us to Greta, a blacksmith apprentice who finds herself drawn to the delightful world of tea dragons. As Greta learns to care for these tiny beasts, she also befriends the shy Minette, and the two muddle through their coming-of-age together. It's an adorable, insightful read for tea-lovers and dragons of all ages.

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'Tash Hearts Tolstoy' by Kathryn Ormsbee

Natasha “Tash” Zelenka is making a web-series based on Anna Karenina. At first it's just an obscure passion project—but when she gets noticed by a vlogging superstar, Tash is suddenly in the spotlight. Her labor of love is now a mega-hit, thrusting Tash into the unstable world of internet fame. As she struggles to keep up with her fans' demands, Tash also finds herself flirting with danger in the form of a crush who doesn't know the full truth about her own identity.

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'All The Wicked Girls' by Chris Whitaker

Grace, Alabama is a small, struggling town in the heart of the Bible Belt. The one bright spot of Grace is Summer, a model student and musical prodigy... until the day that Summer vanishes with no explanation. As the police try to keep the peace, Summer's troubled sister Raine takes it upon herself to find Summer and get to the bottom of the darkness within their tiny hometown. All the Wicked Girls is a smart, tense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.

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