(I couldn’t resist the bad play on Joy’s name, although if I do it too often she might just up and leave me with no right hand.)
Please read on for excellent coverage from my colleague Joy Piedmont for the Macmillan preview none of us were able to attend the week before last—Joy’s debrief back at school resulted in a tussle over the ARCs she received, and I’m really excited for all of these delicious books!
Also, I note that once again we’re looking at a heavy genre list, so maybe, maybe this is the year that genre sweeps it all?
As a new librarian, I have had a few “pinch me, I’m dreaming moments” since joining the fold. The biggest of these was being able to attend a book preview in place of a colleague who was nice enough to pass her invite to me.
Going to your first book preview feels like a cross between going to your first dance with someone you really really like, and being initiated into a secret society. But it’s kind of not like those things at all, because book previews do not include initiation rituals (that I can speak of), and are a thousand-times more fun than a dance.
Last Thursday, I attended the Macmillan Fall 2012 Preview at the Flatiron Building; no rituals except a sign-in were required, but there was good company—and most importantly, books!
There is plenty of YA to discuss, but first I must mention Lane Smith’s Abe Lincoln’s Dream, which prompted “oohs” and “aahs” for Smith’s typically stunning art and the unusual premise that mixes history, fantasy, and Americana. I’m also excited to dive into Jacqueline Kelly’s Wind in the Willows sequel, Return to the Willows, illustrated by Clint Young. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate author is so skilled with language; it’s no surprise that she would tackle a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s classic.
On to YA!
I’ll begin with the parade of anticipated sequels and series that editors presented. Gabrielle Zevin’s Because It Is My Blood continues the story of Anya Balanchine. Passenger is Andrew Smith’s follow up to The Marbury Lens. In trilogy news, Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy continues with Sapphire Blue, and Caragh M. O’Brien’s Birthmarked trilogy ends with Promised. The galley of Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There earned me a hug from Karyn, which I take as a hearty seal of approval. Necromancing the Stone revisits Sam as he is getting accustomed to his necromancer powers, which he discovered in Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (have I used the word “necromancer” enough?).
There are a few books that may have what it takes to be in the Printz conversation by the end of the year, but first some titles you will want to add to your “to-read” list, although my sense was that these aren’t contenders.
According to his editor, Charlie Price’s work with at-risk teens prior to writing has informed Price’s novels, particularly Dead Girl Moon (October). The premise—three teens discover a dead body, and need to find the killer because they are now suspects—is promising and this seems like it could be a convincing thriller/mystery.
Sounding like a great, delicious popcorn read, Eve & Adam (October) is a high-tech, action retelling of Genesis written by husband and wife team Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate. The editors promised hot guys, action, and romance, and who am I to turn all of that down?
In the realistic fiction department, we have Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman (November). Erin, a smart teen with an advice blog, finds herself victim of her own advice. I usually like books about smart teens if they’re done well, and the premise sounds like a lot of fun.
In high school I went through an Emily Dickinson phase, so I can completely relate to the protagonist of Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things (October) by Kathryn Burak. This is Burak’s debut and apparently she’s got a missing teen, a suicide, a mystery, a road trip, and a dead poet’s dress. I’m really curious to see how all of these elements come together, and there’s a special excitement reading debut authors.
In fact, another debut author I’m excited to discover is Gennifer Albin. I’ll admit, I groaned when I heard the word “dystopia” used to describe her book, Crewel, but I was won over when it was also described as a book about destiny, power, and a woman’s place in society. In the world of Crewel, girls chosen to be Spinsters control the fate of others at their looms, and live a life of privilege and beauty, but one girl, decides that giving up her freedom is too high a price for all this. It’s hard to tell if this will be a contender, but I wouldn’t count it out just yet, and I’ll let you know once I read it!
And now, the books that have what it takes to be contenders: one fantasy, one dystopia, and one contemporary novel.
When a mermaid falls in love with a human, there are serious consequences. That was all that needed to be said to get me hooked (sorry, bad pun) on Monstrous Beauty, a novel with romance, mystery and a generation- spanning plot by Elizabeth Fama, a.k.a. Someday blog commenter extraordinaire. The editors at Macmillan were incredibly enthusiastic about Monstrous Beauty and believe it’s likely to earn a lot of critical praise. They also shared that this was Fama’s response to her kids’ challenge to write a novel, “better than Twilight.” We eagerly await your confirmation or refutation, Elizabeth!
It seems a little unfair to call Safekeeping a dystopia just because that is the easiest way to describe a novel that presents a vision of America that we are thisclose to becoming, at least according to Karen Hesse; if it’s that possible, is it really science fiction, which is what we mean when we say “dystopia”?. The Newbery-winning author imagines what would happen if the Tea Party controlled the government, and embroiders the story with her own photographs. The novel is also about a girl who embarks on foot to try to find her parents and escape the chaos engulfing the country, and it definitely reads up from Hesse’s other work.
My Book of Life by Angel also tackles serious topics: addiction, prostitution, and sex trafficking. But that’s not the reason why this book sounds like a contender. Author Martine Leavitt is a former National Book Award finalist, so she clearly has literary chops. Another sign pointing to possible contender-ness is that My Book of Life by Angel is a novel in verse, which could elevate the material out of after-school special territory.
I had so much fun at this preview! I hope I included enough for you to get a sense of all of the great titles I heard about. Here’s a link to the entire Macmillan fall catalogue; peruse and let me know if I omitted any books you think we should be talking about when we’re talking Printz contenders!