I should state here for the record that I have a fairly spectacularly bad record of predicting Printz winners (I still think E.R. Frank’s America was robbed back in 2003, but hey, what do I know?). Sometimes, after the award is announced, I can look at the book, and look at the committee members, and say, “Yeah, I can see how those particular people chose that particular book,” but as for predicting . . . nah. There have been several years when I hadn’t even heard of the book that won (White Darkness, anyone? Jellicoe Road?).
So all of that is a prologue to saying that whatever you see here should be taken with a huge grain of salt.
So, looking at Someday’s more-or-less final list of contenders, what are my thoughts?
I count a total of 86 books (not counting the ones that have been crossed out). I seriously doubt if the real committee is looking at 86 books at this point, but, of course, it is impossible to know which of these they have already eliminated–or, indeed, if there are others on their list that no one here brought up. Anyway, of those 86, I have read (or, in two or three cases, started and abandoned) 38. In addition, I have read probably another 20 or 25 YA books that were published in 2012. So, again, just a disclaimer that there’s lots of stuff out there that I haven’t even looked at.
However, if I were doing a Mock Printz right now (and you and I should totally do a Mock Printz next year with a group of Bay Area librarians), here are the ten books I would want to talk about:
- Chopsticks, by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral. This was my early-in-the-year front-runner. And although I think there are other, better books, this one still sticks with me, and I think it does something so different that it deserves a conversation.
- Graffiti Moon, by Cath Crowley. We had a discussion about this earlier in the year, and it still holds up for me. It’s not as thematically intense as some of the other books under discussion, but it is really well-written. I haven’t re-read it, but I can’t think of any major flaws.
- Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. Great world-building, fascinating characters, beautiful writing.
- Ask the Passengers, by A.S. King. Astrid’s determination to take the time to figure out who she is and her refusal to be labeled and put in a box makes her one of the best YA characters of the year.
- In Darkness, by Nick Lake. I talked about this one a few weeks ago , but never got your take on it. This is another one that has really stayed with me. This is a book that I think would really make an interesting discussion.
- The Brides of Rollrock Island, by Margo Lanagan. We have discussed our mutual love for this book. and I especially liked your response to some comments addressing some perceived issues. But, as you say, the prose style alone is enough to bring this one up to the top.
- Dodger, by Terry Pratchett. Okay, to be honest, I’m not quite finished reading this one yet, but unless it falls apart in the last third, this one is going on my list. The setting, the language, the humor, the characters–all are just terrific.
- Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin. You will perhaps recall my excitement when I read this book. It’s still there. Great story, great writing, just a great, great book.
- Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. Your concerns about this book are well-documented, and I agree with many of them. Still, this was one of the finest books of the year, and well worth a discussion.
- Okay, I’m going to cheat now. I said ten, but I can’t quite decide what number ten should be. It could be Titantic: Voices from the Disaster, by Deborah Hopkinson, which I know is one of your favorites. But I have some niggling doubts about its status as one of the best from a purely literary standpoint. I would have to go back and pull out some quotations to document my concerns. My personal pick might be one that’s not on Someday’s list at all, a book I talked about in October: The Opposite of Hallelujah, by Anna Jarzab. But then that would leave out The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater, not to mention The Diviners, by Libba Bray. I think both of those have flaws, but still . . .
So, throwing it open to comments from you and from our readers. If you were going to have a Mock Printz in early January, what ten books would you include on your discussion list?