Not that we ever get these right, but here goes.
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson: I know this is divisive. I also recognize that it is indeed absurd, as I think was pointed out on The Book Smugglers blog, that the education system looks JUST LIKE OURS. But I don’t care, because when the lights go out in Palmares Tres the third time, I cry. And also lots of other good things, which are way more relevant to the Printz. But mostly, tears.
September Girls, Bennett Madison: Questions of male genitalia and reasonable sensations notwithstanding, I think this is a damn fine book. It’s a fairy tale and a commentary on fairy tales and a coming of age and a romance with the girl going off independently into the sunset, so it gets me as a romantic and as a feminist, all wrapped up in solid and occasionally gorgeous prose.
Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox: When I go all head, this one drops just below the top 5, but I love it so and if the RealCommittee deems it worth a sticker, I’m going to be rejoicing.
Paper Valentine, Brenna Yovanoff: I know, snowball’s chance in hell, yadda yadda. But I loved the mashup of mystery and ghost story, even with the imbalance in the final act, I loved the relationships, I loved Hannah’s wardrobe. I pointed out plenty of flaws when I reviewed this one, but when I vote purely from the heart I find the merits outweigh the issues in the hazy glow of memory, and I keep slipping this one back on my list.
I could also have listed The Midnight Dress here, because it’s the book I think most deserves the award, but it’s a little less of a love affair. So let me just state, again, that it’s the most deserving book I’ve read this year, but I’m not actually listing it as a heart OR a prediction.
So much for the books I’ll really really clap for on Monday! Here’s what I actually expect to see recognized:
Far Far Away, Tom McNeal: I’m calling this one for the gold. I hope I’m wrong, because I think it’s deeply flawed, but it’s a critical darling and I won’t be surprised at all to see it garner some love on Monday.
Saints, Gene Luen Yang: I’m predicting that Boxers & Saints will be recognized as two separate books and will both net honors. Together, I think they would get the gold, but I think it’s a huge precedent and I predict YALSA and the committee will be wary of doing that, so this will be the compromise.
More Than This, Patrick Ness: I’m taking it on faith that this holds up to multiple readings. It’s bold and it’s got people talking and I think Ness is widely considered under-recognized, because Chaos Walking only works as a series. This is standalone so I think it’s going to get a nod.
Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgewick: Rabbits. All those rabbits. But this has some strong support among readers and I think my issues are mine, and not universal. If it comes down to it, Sedgwick’s gorgeous prose and daring structure will probably overcome any complaints about sleight of hand or lack of substance or coherence.
(I also wouldn’t be shocked by Maggot Moon, The Golden Day, or Winger, just for the record.)
Now, to wait with bated breath for Monday morning so I can see just how wrong I am, twice over!
Chasing Shadows, Swati Avasthi: Daring stylistically with a beautiful depiction of a dying friendship.
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell: A love story so perfectly done it hurts.
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell: Literary and swoon-worthy. A true winner.
Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang: Each book is a tour-de-force of visual storytelling with a message that never feels preachy.
The Lucy Variations, Sara Zarr: A lovely close study of what it means to have to redefine your life as a teenager.
Predictions (Again, alphabetical order by author. I won’t pick a winner, because I’m picking two of the titles based on persuasive critical responses, year-end lists, etc.)
More Than This, Patrick Ness: The discussion we had at the Mock Printz I attended last weekend could have gone on for at least another hour, and I haven’t even read this one.
Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgwick: Again, it’s a divisive title. I personally think it’s flawed and only loosely held together, but the language is intoxicating.
Black Helicopters, Blythe Woolston: So hard hitting and intense, packing in so much economically, I can easily see this getting recognition from the committee.
Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang (recognized as one title): Everything above, plus I think Yang’s status as a previous winner is certainly persuasive.
I have to be honest, my due date/maternity leave lined up to make me one ineffective predictor. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have heart books because I haven’t had more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep in the past 3 years, and my heart is tired. (Note: that is an exaggeration. I had more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep back in my second trimester, so…back in June. Next year will be better. Right?) I’m going to make guesses based mostly on general buzz, conversation here, and, uh, tea leaves, I guess.
September Girls by Bennet Madison: It’s complicated, subtle, and smart. It plays with narrative voices to illustrate some big ideas about identity. And it uses fairy tales and summer love to do that.
Far, Far Away by Tom McNeil: Five starred reviews. National Book Award finalist. Comparisons to Neil Gaiman. What else could you ask for?
More Than This by Patrick Ness: This might be my heart book, if my heart weren’t asleep right now. I think my argument for this one might boil down to “isn’t it time for a little Ness love from the Printz?” Which may not be highly persuasive. So: audacious, intelligent, compelling.
Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang: Really two medal winners for the price of one. Great story telling, powerful art, and isn’t it time for a little more GN love from the Printz?
But let’s hear from everyone! Predictions? Best guesses? Bring ’em to the comments!