For our final review of the season, squashed in at the 11th hour, we bring you a quick and dirty final roundup to shed a little bit of love on some books that we never got to discuss at length but that we still think deserve a little attention.
Our final three redux books are three of my own top books this year. They vary in length, in genre, in style, and more — indeed, in many ways I can’t imagine three more distinct titles. And yet, they have something essential in common (other than my appreciation, that is): all three are about moments of change and lives in transition, from Elena and Cat’s Prince and the Pauper/Vladimir Propp adventure to Windy and Rose’s quiet summer of seismic change to Marilyn Nelson’s personal journey that is a microcosm of change happening in the macrocosm of America during that same decade — whew! Big changes indeed, each one rendered beautifully.
YALSA’s Morris Award (technically the William C. Morris Debut Award) is a great showcase of strong new voices in the YA literature field. Often there are a few books we have had on our speculation list that end up being Morris finalists, because good writing is good writing. And, of course, sometimes the best writing is a debut — from Looking for Alaska, 10 (TEN!) years ago (before the Morris, but still a debut) to Seraphina just two years ago.
But the thing is that the Morris pool is a LOT smaller. And often crowded with schools of commercial clone fish, against which the more original and/or literary novels tend to really shine. And we all know that a big fish in a small pond often becomes a small fish when the body of water is bigger.
The Printz is a pretty big body of water. [Read more…]
This year, we have two of note.
Both are beautiful, thought-provoking, unusual, and skew way up. All the way to adolescence and beyond.
I’ll eat my hat if either receives a silver from the RealCommittee. Hell, I’ll eat all y’all’s hats. BUT. These are gorgeous books with appeal for older readers, so here’s me shining a bit of light on them.
Well, results are in for the Pyrite and for our local mock roster, and it’s interesting.
Also, we have a winner!
It will be interesting see if discussion knocks this one down in either final vote, but right now Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is the runaway winner.
The breakdown: Locally, our group of 9 voted a unanimous 9 “yes, let’s discuss this” votes (note that we had an actual poll for the local Mock, although write-ins are encouraged). Here on the blog, with 27 voters, it received 13 nominations, the highest number.
Popularity or prediction? Only time will tell…
(Insert portentous dun-dun-dun music here.)
Let’s see what other data can be gleaned from the compare and contrast and data gathered.
So either we launched the 2015 Pyrite at a terrible time, right before the insanity of the holidays, or this year is a really dull year.
Which is it?
Almost three years ago, I talked about Mary Poppins books (practically perfect in every way).
These are books that deserve stars and commercial acclaim and critical praise. They are in the top of the crop for the year, but they’re… a little thin. Like Mary Poppins, they appear and have their moment and then off they go; unlike Mary Poppins, they don’t leave too much behind (she, after all, wrought change. Also earworms).
What an ingenious little (okay, big) book this is.
Maguire is at his best when he’s being sly and subverting tropes and expectations; he did it to genius effect in Wicked, which remains one of my favorite novels, and while his overall body of work is uneven, when his writing shines it’s positively lustrous.
This is him at his best.
This book. This book! I loved it. Also I hated it. It has amazing characters, and then it has crimes against female characters. It’s A Tale of Two Cities for me on this one — this book contains multitudes and also contradictions galore. It probably deserves an award, except when it doesn’t.
There’s a reason I’ve been dragging my feet on writing this review. Actually, reasons. Lots of them. This is an extraordinarily impressive book. Except when it isn’t. ARGH!