Some time in the next few days I’ll have a lot to say about the year end lists, and we’ll be going back and making some additional edits to our start of season list in light of time crunches and more data. Today, though, I’m taking a moment away from that madness to reflect on series fiction, a topic near and dear to my heart.
We put out a call asking for interested parties to take a shot at making the case for their top book of the year, and today, occasional guest poster Clair Segal is back to do just that. Or sort of that, because she’s taken on a challenge: talking about a second book in a series.
See, the thing no one told me about going to your first Annual is that it makes you act crazy.
Totally crazy. Librarian!crazy. (Which is frankly the best kind of crazy because all things in life are better when prefaced with “Librarian!”)
But crazy is crazy, and I acted the book-obsessed-fool in Chicago. I stumbled over my tongue telling Holly Black how “amazering” Coldest Girl was. I tried to show Emily Danforth that I was awesome and hip, and great best-friend material. I waited in an insanely long line to profess to an indifferent Tamora Pierce that she had changed my life forever at the tender age of nine. (“Hmm,” my childhood idol offered, nodding politely and sliding over a signed book as her handler motioned me on.)
Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves made me beg a stranger for pity.
One of the best things about having progressed from new librarian to rapidly aging librarian is the opportunity to work with bright young things. Former colleague Clair Segal is now the library technology coordinator at an independent school in NYC, and has graciously agreed to guest blog for us once again, this time about Libba Bray’s The Diviners. (If you take a close look at the acknowledgements in The Diviners, you’ll see why we farmed this favorite out — conflict of interest, what??)
Also, after you read her guest post, if you find yourself thinking, “Hey, this girl is awesome!” you should go check out her blog, the aptly titled Awesomebrarian.
Paranormal fantasy, which is to say fiction with a fantastic angle, but not set in a secondary world, with at least one character who is not human or not, technically, alive, and a romance plot or subplot, continues to go strong.
(Even if we, as adults who have seen vast quantities of formulaic fiction pass us by, kind of wish it wouldn’t.)
I’m on my second generation of HS students reading this addictive but too-often derivative genre, and my tolerance has decreased a lot over the years. So I don’t read nearly as many of the books marketed toward the paranormal-loving reader base as I did, say, 4 or even 6 years ago. I don’t need to — I read the reviews, buy and display the titles, and let the buzz and pretty cover machines do the work for me.
But some of the books that (more or less) fall into this category are actually quite different from their cookie-cutter compatriots. We’ve had three of them (The Girl With the Borrowed Wings, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Monstrous Beauty) on our contender list from the beginning, and we have at least one reader seriously pulling for a fourth (Unspoken). I’ll be honest — all of these, for varied reasons, strike me an noncontenders for the Printz. But they all rock, so let’s take a look.
Looking back at Sophie’s rundown of series books that have been recognized by the Printz Committee over the years, a trend emerged that seems to draw a line between shared universe vs. truly serial works. By and large, truly serial works have only been recognized at series launch, with two duology conclusions and one single middle volume as exceptions, and that one volume is a verse novel, which may—by virtue of verse automatically leaving so much unstated—be a different animal altogether.
So let’s stand back and consider what we mean when we say “series,” and why genuine serial series books are at a disadvantage when it comes to being named the finest work of writing in any given year.
And now, for the epic throw-down you’ve all been waiting for: series vs. stand-alone books! Dun-dun-DUNNNNN! I freely admit that I worked myself up into a rhetorical tizzy as I drafted this post. Last week, I cheerfully volunteered to write the first entry in our exploration of series vs. stand-alone titles. Let’s just say that I’ve lived to regret that nonchalant confidence.
According to the song (and Omar Little, perhaps its most famous fictional interpreter), the cheese stands alone, but to be considered for YA literature’s highest prize, must a book stand alone, too?
And how it wounds me that I must now talk about all the ways in which you are not a Printz contender after all (says I, and won’t I be eating crow, with some pleasure, if the actual committee comes to entirely the opposite conclusion about that). [Read more…]