The 10 most original novels
Originality is important to me. I often base how entertaining something is by how different it appears to me. Originality, I’ve written about here on hubpages before because the subject is important to me. If I'm reading something and I find its blowing my mind, it instantly becomes one of my favourites.
In no particular order, I give you the most original english-language novels (and graphic novels).
1)A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
The format, the content, the message, everything about that book was revolutionary. It invented the Christmas novel and the ghost story. Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, all became part of our cultural consciousness. They are mimicked, filmed, and retold the world over. One of my favourite original novels.
2) Lord of the rings - JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings is a combination of Welsh, Norse and old English myth stories, but was something so much more and completely new. Dwarves, Elves, even Halflings can be found in works such as Fafnir, but the unique combination of them all. The sheer passion and attention to detail raises it above its source material eventually spawning decades of epic fantasy imitators.
3) Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert a. Heinlein
A bizarre story about a human raised as a martian and what happens when he comes home. Valentine Michael Smith causes quite a stir, his Martian ideas are startling and complex, he preaches free love and the complete understanding of all things through empathy. At the end of the book, Smith eventually ends up altering the course of human culture, which the book also managed to do in real life. The book was picked up by the counterculture of the sixties and rocketed to bestsellerdom. Today, it remains one of the most startling tales to come out of science fiction for many years.
4) Tarzan of the apes - Edgar Rice Burroughs
At first glance, its nothing. It’s a racist, sexist relic of the pulp days which are, thankfully, long gone. But at second glance, it’s an original novel like none other. It rises above its quickly written contemporaries. It introduces audiences to Africa, tells the tale of a child, lost, and, most notably, does not have a happy ending. Tarzan chooses to protect his identity so the woman he loves, Jane, can be happy. The book reads quickly and leaves you breathless. You really feel like you’re in a jungle and being raised by an ape woman. It’s truly a unique little item that doesn’t get the respect it deserves.
5) Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Not the first coming of age novel, (that distinction is generally given to Emile: or, On Education, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written in 1762) but probably the one that most contributed to the veritable explosion of them throughout the whole of the twentieth century. Every NorthAmerican school child reads catcher in the rye at some point. It’s popular because its good. It’s reactionary, the voice is so fresh and readable. The book finally achieves the young person's voice like many have failed before.
6) Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Circular and repetitive. It’s almost stream-of-consciousness, except without the boring that usually accompanies most of those novels (Ulysses). Catch-22 is unique little novel which uses a startlingly original way of illustrating the futility of war. It’s witty. It’s charming. Most people like it. I recommend it.
7) Neuromancer - William Gibson
As much as I hate the book for being poorly written, it did single-handedly decide where science fiction would go during the eighties and nineties. Neuromancer popularized cyberpunk. It introduced millions to the concept of the internet and hacking and implants even before such things existed. It is a titan of originality. Science fiction as we know it today wouldn’t exist without it. Do you like Snowcrash and Accelerando? Thank Neuromancer.
8) Dragon ball – Akira Toriyama
A Japanese manga (comic book) series staring Goku. A young, freakishly-strong orphan who, through various adventures and trials, comes to be the strongest most powerful martial artist on Earth. What sets Dragon Ball apart from the crowd is its structure. In western literature, its common for characters to change, to go through something that makes them a better (or worse) person. But in Dragon Ball, Goku goes through an emotional AND physical change. His maturing is mirrored by his efforts to get stronger, to protect the people he loves. He eventually gains powers like Superman, but unlike him, Goku’s power levels and rules has no limit. He is the embodiment of the American dream.
9) Superman - Spiegel and Shuster
Prior to him, comics were full of detectives solving crimes. Superman solved crimes, but he also punished bad guys. When Superman came out, the American comics scene was changed forever. Instantly popular, Superman, to this day, is one of the most recognized characters in the world.
10) Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
A little novel that came out of nowhere. But what a novel. The dead are brought back to life by science. The dead aren’t happy about it. It’s such a haunting story of loss and redemption followed by more loss and death. Frankenstein is sometimes cited as the first science fiction novel. Other science fiction tropes had appeared before in other things, but it was the theme of Frankenstein that so sets it apart as the true birth of sf. For the first time, audiences saw the true potential of science. The novel is all about careful study and empirical evidence. It's about the triumph of science over mysticism and how the truth is so much more horrible than fiction.
There are more, obviously. I can think of a few I wanted to put on this list, but these are ten I think that were particularly original and fresh in their approaches to fiction. If you’re favourites were left out, don’t be shy to tell me in a comment. Maybe you’ll change my mind.