So, I think I made it pretty clear last year that I really like Alaya Dawn Johnson’s style. She’s smart and she writes books that appeal to me as a reader. But if you dismiss this as just another fangirl review, you’ll be missing out, because despite the flaws (and there are flaws — fannish and blind are not synonyms) this is one seriously notable book.
Okay, not all the books, but three books for the price of one post: The Golden Day, Winger, and The Midnight Dress.
(It was going to be four books, because I stayed up way too late reading More Than This the other night, but I think I need to sit on that for another day or so before I can do it justice.)
Other than the facts that all three feature murders and have garnered three stars, these aren’t linked by anything other than that they needed to be talked about in the context of awards season.
Let’s talk about voice (bay-bee), because this book features one of the strongest I’ve come across.
(And before you hit the jump, please remember that we do spoilers here. All the time. So if you are reading on and you haven’t read the book yet, I don’t think I’ll ruin it but I will spoil some parts. Caveat emptor.)
Ok, not all the books, but a whole cluster of the titles that we wanted to cover and hadn’t gotten to yet, tidily rounded up in one post for your perusal.
In the last two weeks, I’ve read two more from the original contenda list (Pinned and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), one Morris shortlist title (Love & Other Perishable Items) and two dark horse candidates that were brought to our attention by readers (In Darkness and Various Positions).
Sarah will be sharing a few more titles tomorrow, but sadly, neither of us managed to read Andrew Smith’s Passenger, a late addition auto-contender. It is, however, beyond a long shot for the RealPrintz — book 2 of a series, and, based on the first chapter and some student feedback, impenetrable without having read the first book.
(But if you never read the first book, The Marbury Lens, and want a really disturbing, stark, and very well-written book to read next, pick it up, because it really is a powerful read.)
We’re also sad to say that two buzz titles recommended by readers never made it onto either of our piles — Monument 14, recommended by Jen Hubert of Reading Rants, and The Opposite of Hallelujah, recommended by Kelly of Stacked. These are two well-read critics, and Jen definitely has a nose for Printz winners, so do check out their respective reviews. Whether or not either of these titles are named on Monday, they are definitely worth seeking out.
Okay, enough housekeeping! Onto the last of my 2012 reading.
So, I should start this post by disclosing that I have a personal connection with this book and its author. I want to acknowledge my personal baggage (a topic that has been addressed particularly well in the comments to the most recent post about The Fault in Our Stars), which is:
- I know Matthew Quick, and have followed his career with interest, because he was my sister’s favorite and most influential high school teacher,
- I’ve had coffee and exchanged some tweets with him,
- And he signed a copy of his first YA title, Sorta Like a Rock Star for my high school library’s collection.
All of which is to say, I have a great deal of affection for Quick, and for his books, and now that I’ve said all that, I think I can set it aside for the purposes of this review, in which I’ll make the case that his most recent YA title, Boy21, is a possible contender for a Printz Honor.
Another (and last for the year) guest post from pinch-hitter Joy Piedmont. This time, Joy raves about a book that made the contenda list with three stars but mostly deserves recognition as a serious buzz book. I’m a long time fan of Adele Griffin’s, and this is, I think, a stronger candidate than her last few YA titles when it comes to award chat. But I’ll let Joy explain why…
All You Never Wanted: it’s a gem of a title, isn’t it? It’s a warning, a temptation, and a promise written directly at you, pulling you in.
And Adele Griffin’s latest has more than a great title. It’s an engaging study of two teenage sisters told from their alternating perspectives. Attention-seeking Thea and anxiety-stricken Alex seem to be direct descendants of Edith Wharton’s characters. (It’s no surprise that in a recent online Q&A, Griffin revealed that she went through a Wharton phase, and discussed how that may have influenced AYNW). Like Wharton’s, Griffin’s characters are complex and fully realized in an exploration of wealth, privilege, class, desire, jealousy, and anxiety.
In the end, it’s a gorgeous little TARDIS of a novel.
(Bigger on the inside, for you non-Whovians).
Well, folks, the results are in! We voted down the Pyrite Nominations to create a shortlist, and here it is:
I don’t think there are any real surprises here, except maybe the margin; Code Name Verity pretty much swept it.
Your task now, should you choose to join the fun (and regardless of whether you voted on the shortlist) is to read and/or reread these 10 books between now and mid-January; in the last week or two before the RealCommittee announces their Printz winner and honor titles, we will discuss each of these and put them all to a vote to determine the Pyrite Printz* winner. It will be interesting to see what happens, especially as I suspect the readership on some of the middle block of titles is still relatively low.
In the meantime, we’ll continue working our way through our still fairly large queue of books from the September contender list.
For those who want to see the full voting results, click through.
I love this one. It chilled me and made me cry—chapter after chapter, page after page.
And despite largely positive reviews (barring comments about likely lack of appeal), it’s received only one star and I haven’t heard a peep about this gem. I’m not sure anyone besides me and that handful of reviewers read it, and that’s a shame, because this is worth reading.
Fair warning: like so many of the books that number among the best written of the year, this won’t be a popular read. It’s a fantasy, I guess, but there’s no magic. It’s sort of historical fiction, but for a time and place that never actually was. It’s a novel, but it’s told in vignettes and the connections emerge slowly, so that it often reads more like interconnected short stories. It’s about a young man, except when it isn’t. I wouldn’t say it’s a genre-blender, which is a category often recognized by the committee, so much as it’s a book that defies the very idea of genre. [Read more…]