Author Jeff VanderMeer is known for his surreal sci-fi Southern Reach trilogy (the first book was Annihilation, which was made into a movie).
A giant spaceship lands in the waters offshore of Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria, and things get out of control immediately. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor is more about the writhing, hustling world of Nigeria, and the arrival of aliens is a great way to see that in action. It’s very well-written, fast-paced, fascinating, and intense. It does not, however, make me want to visit Lagos.
A man dies in an apparent suicide, but a police detective suspects it may be murder. However, he can’t get anyone else to care because a four-mile-wide asteroid is going to hit the Earth in six months and probably wipe out humanity.
The least human character in All Systems Red is also the most human. A half-robotic creature (or maybe more than half) privately calls itself Murderbot, and it’s got a good reason to. All the humans around it consider it just another security android, which is fine by Murderbot; it’d rather watch bad TV than have to interact with humans.
My whole family had a ton of fun reading Ready Player One, and its sequel Ready Player Two gives more of the same (this is a good thing). There’s a hugely important, intricate puzzle to be solved that requires massive amounts of 80s pop culture knowledge, and our hero and his friends must crack it before the bad guys ruin everything.
There’s a sub-sub-sub genre of books out there I’ll call “Baffling Worlds.” The main character is in a world so bizarre and with such strange rules that it’s not clear whether they’re on an alien planet, in a magical landscape, or in a surreal dream. The focus of the book is not on character development or having adventures, but in the reader slowly learning about how this strange world works. Hearts of Oak is one of these books.