On Saturday, Someday joined forces with HVLA to host a proper Mock Printz.
(And speaking of mock awards, if you haven’t already, hop on over to Heavy Medal for the deets on their Mock Newbery. Riveting reading!)
Our first ever live Mock event was a little chaotic (we learn by doing) and completely fantastic. Joy is writing it up in detail (with voting breakdowns) for the HVLA blog, and I’ll link that as soon as it’s up, but we thought we’d share a quick snapshot immediately.
In order of votes received, the HVLA shortlist:
The Fault in Our Stars
Code Name Verity
The Raven Boys
The Brides of Rollrock Island
Ask the Passengers
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe*
The Drowned Cities
(Titles marked with * did not make the Someday shortlist, for those of you who don’t have it memorized; for the 8 books that made both lists, the difference in order was striking.)
We started with a quick straw poll, allowing each participant to vote for 5 titles and knocking the two bottom-most titles off the discussion list completely, allowing 20-25 minutes per title for the remaining 8 books.
The two that were knocked off? Aristotle and Dante, to my surprise — I had just finished it and while I didn’t love it, I think it’s a seriously strong piece of writing and deserved discussion — and The Drowned Cities, which also surprised me. I’m wondering if there was some subject bias at work. It’s such a grim book that maybe no one wanted to spend so much time thinking about it? But that’s all speculation.
We then discussed the titles alphabetically by author (neatly saving CNV for last — enough of the participants are also in the HVLA book club that I knew there was strong CNV support, so I was pleased that we didn’t start with a lovefest that could have colored the entire day), and while it took everyone a bit to warm up, by the end it was rowdy and rollicking!
A few highlights: consensus said that Raven Boys was indeed way too serial for serious consideration, because so many aspects of characterization, setting, and pacing depend on what happens next. No surprise, series books as difficult to assess came up with The Diviners as well, although there we also passionately argued ensemble narrative versus single character and how effective characterization is when there are so many (awesome) characters. Every Day took a bit of a beating. The Fault conversation started with a John Green focus but moved into a conversation about the meta strand that just came up on the redux post, and I think no one felt like we were done with Fault when the timer went. Railsea was beloved by all who had read it, but that was almost no one. Also? Mieville’s author photo excited some conversation, and I am choosing my words with great care. The Brides conversation had me mentally assigning everyone to either Team Mark or Team Karyn, it so closely paralleled the debate we’ve been having here. Ask the Passengers was the surprise lovefest, with the thematic strand of identity probably the single most praised aspect. And Code Name Verity was the no-surprise lovefest, with particular appreciation for its craft.
After the conversation, we moved to voting, mostly (see below) per the official RealPrintz voting guidelines.
(To clarify that “mostly”: Although we had 12 voting participants, we did not adjust from the official rules, which assume 9 voters, although mathematically we should have since our winner did not end up with 50% + 1 of the first place votes, which the RealCommittee numbers enforce. We also totally cheated since it turned out most people had one or even two books yet to read, and so we decided as a group to allow people to vote based on the conversation even if they hadn’t read something yet. It was the only way we could see to avoid the bias of readership numbers. We have lots of ideas about doing more prep and better promotion next year to ensure better readership.)
On the first vote, Code Name Verity won, but by a margin too narrow to count. (It had one more first place vote than the next title, which was Ask the Passengers, but because of the weighted voting, also only one more point, and a five point spread is required to conclusively and officially win the gold.)
Incidentally, in that first round CNV had 6 first place votes, Ask the Passengers had 6 second place votes, and Fault had 6 third place votes, showing a strong consensus across the group.
So we were back to the drawing board. But we were low on time, so, pulses pounding and fingers crossed, we voted again with almost no revisiting of the books (we did, however, talk briefly about strategy and why one might drop a beloved but clearly not making it title in favor of one with a shot).
And in round two, Ask the Passengers took the gold! Fairly decisively, with a 10-point spread.
Because consensus wins, every time. More people supported it overall, and it was less contentious, which drove it into first place very easily.
It was an eye-opening moment for everyone who had not been on the actual Printz committee, and I think it left people satisfied that due process had given us a winner we could stand behind — even if some of us hadn’t gotten the winner we most wanted.
For honor books, there was a very decisive break — two titles received 11 votes each, with the remaining four showing significantly less consensus.
Given those numbers, we debated 2 versus 4 honor books, pulled between the desire to recognize more books and the desire to represent only the books we most strongly supported as a group, a conversation the RealCommittee has certainly grappled with in the past, and I’m honestly not sure which we finally decided to declare as our official list — too much adrenaline in my system at that point!
But I’ll list all four, just so that I share as much data as possible.
Mock honor titles, alphabetical by author: The Diviners, The Fault in Our Stars, Railsea, and Code Name Verity.
*The Pyrite Printz, or Pyrite, is the Someday My Printz Will Come mock Printz deliberation, and should not in any way be confused with YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award, often referred to here as the RealPrintz or Printz. Our predictions, conversations, and speculation about potential RealPrintz contenders and winners reflect only our own best guesses and are not affiliated with YALSA or the RealPrintz committee. You probably figured that out on your own, but we like to make it clear!