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Battle of the Books

Vote, Vote, Vote! Says Jonathan

Roger asked why we run the Undead Poll before anything even gets eliminated.  It’s a very good question and the very simple answer is that we want to give our Big Kahuna judge enough time to read three books for the final decision, and since all but two of them are going to be eliminated anyway, why not run the poll now under the assumption that any book could get eliminated.

You probably want a little hint about what’s currently leading the poll.  I can say that one title has distanced itself from the pack, but I’m not sure I can describe it as a surprise—at least not to the same degree that The Frog Scientist was.  I’m tempted to say a lot more, but don’t want to give the game away.  So I’ll simply encourage you to vote if you have not already done so.

— Commentator Jonathan Hunt


  1. What if something gets selected for the Undead Poll but in the course of the battle, does not get eliminated. Do you then put in the second place winner? Or third? Are there always three for the Big Kahuna round?

  2. Battle Commanderq says

    Alyson, there will always be three contenders in the final round. And, yes, we go for the 2nd or 3rd highest vote count depending on the situation, much as you described.

  3. Given that BoB judging is so . . . idiosyncratic, it doesn’t make sense, in the Undead Poll, to vote for anything other than the book you want to win. There isn’t enough information to try to game the system, so the Undead Poll, conducted at this time, is just a popularity contest. It has no teeth. The Undead need teeth.

  4. The Undead have teeth. They are rotting and broken, though. Not an attractive look.

    But seriously, isn’t the Undead Poll the American Idol portion of this otherwise judge-determined competition? It’s the part where people vote to save their favorites should those favorites need saving; the votes just kick in at a later point. Reminding me of Dr. Who for some reason–time travel voting?

  5. Half the fun is letting the Peanut Gallery contribute to the Big Kahuna Round. It’s still going to be a judge’s decision, after all. Fun to see which book the populace support.

  6. At the risk of stirring up the “Peanut Gallery Pot”, I’ve argued all along that as far as awards are concerned the popular/mainstream books, especially series books, somehow don’t get no respect.

    It reminds me of the Westminster Dog Show. Unfortunately, the perennial crowd favorites like the Labrador or Golden Retriever will really never win the big prize. Those breeds are…well…sniff…sniff……so common… They’re dime a dozen. None of the five “Retriever” breeds has ever won.

    If you want to win at Westminster you enter some sort of “Terrier” breed(45 wins). The Wire Fox Terrier has single-handedly won the cup 15 times.

    When it comes to book awards…series books are the new retrievers.

    So tonight’s Jeopardy question is, “What popular book is obviously leading in the Undead Poll?”
    “That’s easy”…say’s IBM’s Watson Computer…
    “It’s a series book…A Conspiracy of Kings”.

    Maybe Jonathan can tell us if Watson is onto something.
    Or maybe he/she(or it) has blown a fuse.

  7. I agree with you, Richard, that a series book can often be a hard sell when it comes to the awards… but are you really calling Conspiracy of Kings a “popular” book? Are you speaking in terms of us blog/kidlit adult types, or kids? I ask because at my branch, Turner’s series has a small (and admittedly pretty loyal) following, but CoK would definitely not qualify as a popular book. Having said all this, guess what book I voted for? =)
    Go Sophos!

  8. Books in a series do have trouble if the judges haven’t read the previous books, and so don’t fully realize the brilliance. Besides, you often need to read the earlier books to fully appreciate what’s going on. For regular readers (not judges), I urge them to read that series in order, since the big surprise at the end of earlier books is given away in the next book.

    I also wouldn’t call COK “popular,” though those who love the series (like me) tend to REALLY love the series. And there is that fan website.

    On the other hand, John Green has a huge internet presence, so his fans also might skew the voting.


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