I’m not for sure where I’m landing in this review, so I guess I’ll have to write it and see where I end up. Ha, I guess I’m flying right now, and I’m hoping this review (or you all, in the comments) will catch me. I definitely loved this book, and feel like it’s continuing my tough lady reading streak this year. With four starred reviews, I know I’m not alone in that love. Johnston is a past Morris honoree, too, so I have no doubt RealCommittee is taking a careful look at this title. Exit is emotional and compelling, it has strong characters, often funny dialogue, and as a story it balances uncertainty and resolution very delicately and deftly. [Read more…]
How can I assess The Memory of Light in the context of the Printz Award?
In some ways, it’s too real, too honest, and too close-to-home. It’s also surprisingly uninteresting and predictable. I struggled with these contradictory reactions throughout the novel.
When I read YA books that romanticize depression or mental illness, I want to tear down the Internet with my frustration. Yet this novel, which is so accurate in portraying the complexity of depression, does not inspire me to erect monuments. I don’t mean to be facetious, but this book made me feel nothing at all.
I mentioned last week that each of us has to assess excellence for ourselves, as well as coming to consensus when it comes time to pick a winner (or, for us, Pyrite winner).
For me, excellence is deeply tied to language. I was an English major; I’ve been know to read poetry for fun. I love puns. It doesn’t have to be highfalutin’, but show me real skill manipulating language and I’m likely to be lined up reaching for that book with both hands.
So no surprise, my second book this season once again is one that hits it out of the park when it comes to pure old-fashioned word-smithing.
So this year, I’m starting out with what I can only describe as the “out of left field contender of my heart.” I thought this would be a quick read that I’d be able to check off and move on from — maybe doubling it up with another title here. What can I say — I don’t always like stuff that’s shorter, and nonfiction is only sometimes my jam. And we’ve talked before about how it can be difficult to assess — and especially come to consensus on — anthologies and other mixed-author works. Working through each essay individually and then evaluating as a whole is hard enough on your own; persuading 10 other committee members to vote for an anthology can get tricky. So this is maybe also a shot-in-the-dark contender, but there’s so much that hits perfectly that I just can’t let it alone. [Read more…]
Have aliens been abducting Henry Denton since he was thirteen? Or has he been suffering from mental illness? Some days I believe the former; other days, the latter. But does it really matter?
We Are the Ants is about much more than the end of the world (although those doomsday scenarios were highly entertaining). Shaun David Hutchinson uses science fiction elements to get at themes that are highly realistic: grief, guilt, love, nihilism… actually, this book is packed with ideas and Hutchinson weaves them through a story in which the protagonist is largely passive.
Traditionally, we’ve launched the season with our massive (like, 90 titles long) reading list, but when we open with the big list, we always end up regretting approximately one-third of the titles.
So this year, we’re going to share a shorter, not even slightly exhaustive list. Here are our top 25 titles, included either because we’ve already read them or because they’ve gotten all the stars (by which I mean 4 or more, marked with an asterisk) or because the author or description have us thinking these are likely to be worth the conversation.
Obviously, we won’t be reviewing only 25 books this season, and we have plenty of books we’ve read that probably won’t go the distance but are certainly worth a conversation and therefore a post. But here’s the 25 we’re most excited to talk about, aphabetized by title because that’s how we’ve been discussing them.
American Girls, Alison Umminger
As I Descended, Robin Talley
The Bitter Side of Sweet*, Tara Sullivan
Blood Red, Snow White, Marcus Sedgwick
Burn Baby Burn*, Meg Medina
Character, Driven*, David Lubar
Every Exquisite Thing, Matthew Quick
Exit, Pursued by a Bear*, E.K. Johnston
Golden Boys*, Sonya Hartnett
The Head of the Saint, Socorro Acioli
Highly Illogical Behavior, John Corey Whaley
The Lie Tree*, Frances Hardinge
The Memory of Light*, Francisco X. Stork
My Lady Jane, Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows
The Passion of Dolssa*, Julie Berry
Railhead, Philip Reeve
The Reader*, Traci Chee
Samurai Rising*, Pamela S. Turner
The Serpent King, Jeff Zentner
The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan
Spontaneous, Aaron Starmer
Still Life with Tornado, A.S. King
Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin
Unbecoming*, Jenny Downham
We Are the Ants*, Shaun Davis Hutchinson
What would you add? Remove? Actually, let’s play this committee style: these are our nominations thus far. What are yours?
We’ll be back Monday with our first review. Catch you then!
It’s the halfway point of the season, and we’re done
sowing our wild oats reading non-2016 and/or non-YA books. We thought maybe if we showed you ours, you’d show us yours? So here’s where we are with our reading. What have you been reading? (And if you went to ALA, we were #ALAleftbehind, so we need you to tell us what ARCS we should be jonesing for.)
I have two loves vying for top place in my heart. Both are historical, too. Micro trend? Without further commentary, let me tell you that I adored The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry and The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.
What I’m looking forward to most: Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor, which doesn’t come out until the fall but patience is a virtue.
The love: This isn’t technically teen, but it’s the one that is sticking around inside me — Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. Art! Creation! History and fictional biography, ambitious storytelling, original and memorable…I’m just listing words at this point, my love is so much.
What I’m reading next: The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner. Because who doesn’t love a good religious fundamentalist tale?
I loved We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (and shhh—this is a secret—I may have loved it more than anything I read in 2015). And because I can’t resist authors with three names, I also just read John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior. Next up is Kiersten White’s And I Darken. A lady Vlad the Impaler? Wha??
The season is done, the award has been given, we’ve all gasped and mourned (only two honors!) and celebrated, and finally it’s time to look forward to the 2017 YMAs.
A final thank you to the RealCommittee, whose hard work has given us three excellent choices to talk about and discuss for years to come. And now it’s a new year and there’s a new RealCommittee stepping up and it’s time for us to start reading 2016 books. All this and it’s only January 15th, whoo-hoo!
So let’s have at it: what are you reading/looking forward to/burning to talk about? Comments are open and will stay open, so even though we’re going dark officially*, the fun doesn’t really stop.
Karyn, Joy, and Sarah
*We reserve the right to pop up at any point to talk about anything, and especially to update you all with what’s on our radar. But mostly we’ll be dark.
(Image thanks to Spell with Flickr)
Good morning! Read on for my liveblog reactions to this morning’s YMAs! Content runs from bottom to top and ends after the Printz.
Edited to add: The comments are open for debriefing and post award conversation, but please keep in mind the hard work of the RealCommittee and be respectful of their work and process.
And we’re back with even more more books, in part 2 of our mega roundup of all (not really all) the books.