When MOON OVER MANIFEST won the Newbery Medal a couple of years back it took us by surprise. The book had three starred reviews, but it was a debut novel published in October. It definitely flew under our radar. I enjoyed the book very much and looked forward to Vanderpool’s sophomore effort to see whether or not she would be a flash in the pan.
I’m happy to report that I also like this new one and find it a very strong contender with strengths virtually across the board: plot, character, setting, theme, and style. But, as with P.S. BE ELEVEN, I hesitate to commit one of my first three October nominations to it just yet. Part of that is that I don’t see enough separation in my mind between that top group of contenders to preference a couple of them over the others. And another part of that may have to do with some of my quibbles.
Sondy raised the Pi problem at the end of last season, and I’m going to let her summarize and expand on that again below in the comments. I will say that it didn’t bother me (just as my problems with THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING won’t bother others). I also found the Pi stories really, really cheesy–but I was so caught up in Vanderpool’s storytelling that I hardly cared. What was more problematic for me is that the ending, as satisfying as it is, depends on an awful lot of coincidences, and I think on a second reading when I’m not as enthralled with the storytelling that they will stand out more.
NAVIGATING EARLY sits atop the goodreads poll which often favors books that are published in the spring season, especially in January and February. (Indeed, you have to get past the top ten before you find a fall book.) THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN was also a January book. Does the early bird get the worm? What say you?