Saturday, 2 July 2011

Saturday Special: YA Yeah Yeah Mid Years

The YA Yeah Yeah Mid-Years are intended to be a celebration of the best of the dozens of books I've read over the past six months. I’m limiting it to one award per title, so as spread some credit between the massive number of awesome books out there.

Many of these books were originally reviewed for The Bookbag and links have been given to my reviews either here or on that site – just click on the title.

Best Author: Curtis Jobling (for Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf)

Jobling has managed to create a host of memorable characters and one of the best settings for years in this stunning first novel in the Wereworld series. If the others live up to this, I hope he manages to produce dozens more, because the history and mythology is so well thought-out that when you enter Wereworld you'll never want to leave!

Best Female Character in a Leading Role: Lily (Don't Ask by Hilary Freeman)

From the first page of this wonderful book, when narrator Lily states wearily "I’ll make no excuses for what I’ve done, except to state that I simply couldn’t help myself", it's clear she's something out of the ordinary for contemporary YA novels. She's a character who builds a completely false persona online for what seem to be good reasons - and then takes it a step further by meeting her boyfriend's ex in real life. As she continually does the wrong thing, but never stops being sympathetic, Lily quickly became a favourite of mine.

Best Male Character in a Leading Role: Seth MacGregor (Firebrand by Gillian Philip)

From the opening scene, in which narrator Seth prepares to shoot his brother and a girl to kill them mercifully before they're executed for witchcraft, to the magnificent conclusion of the novel, Seth is an incredible narrator who will find a place in every reader's heart. The half-feral member of the Fair Folk is loyal, hotheaded, and completely wonderful.

Best Female Character in a Supporting Role: Cynthia Stanton (Dark Mirror by MJ Putney)

I couldn't believe that MJ Putney pulled off a historical fiction time-travel story set in two different periods and involving magic quite as well as she did, and one of the main reasons the book worked so well was the presence of Cynthia, who started off as what seemed to be a standard bitchy annoying character but quickly developed into an intriguing member of the supporting cast.

Best Male Character in a Supporting Role: Simon (For The Record by Ellie Irving)

For The Record is utterly charming and one of the reasons it's so sweet is the presence of record adjudicator Simon, who comes to Port Bren to see the residents of this small Jersey village try to save themselves from eviction by breaking 50 records in a week. Even though he's not the famous adjudicator that people were expecting, he's a brilliant character who never failed to raise a smile.

Best Adult Novel: Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka

One of the most beautifully written books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Getting to the end of the first few pages of this I had to pinch myself because I couldn't believe that I was lucky enough to have a free copy of this - being a book reviewer had NEVER seemed so fantastic! Journalist WG Karunasena's search for the lost legend of Sri Lankan cricket, Pradeep Mathew, is gorgeous, gripping, and heartbreakingly bittersweet.

Best YA Novel: Amy And Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

From the first moment I picked this up, and saw the scrapbook style based around the main narrative, I was entranced. Incredibly, in addition to being breathtakingly wonderful to look at, the actual story is just as gorgeous as Amy tries to come to terms with her grief at her father's death, and Roger tries to deal with the end of a relationship, while they travel across Matson's wonderfully described America.

Best Adult Non-Fiction: 42 - Douglas Adams' Amazingly Accurate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything by Peter Gill

Having read a lot of wonderful non-fiction, this may have been the hardest category to choose a winner for, but in the end the utterly trivial but completely engaging collection of facts about the famous number 42 takes it. I defy anyone to read this and not come away with at least a dozen pieces of trivia they'd never known but are glad they do now.

Best Children's Non-Fiction: The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon and P J Lynch

Just a lovely, charming, and totally beguiling tale of this country's history. Perfect for youngsters finding out about Britain for the first time, equally perfect for adults needing a refresher course.

Best Sequel/Spin-off/Reboot: Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy by Andy Briggs

Taking the Victorian era character of Tarzan and putting him in the jungle of modern-day Africa must have been a gamble, but it pays off wonderfully for Andy Briggs, as this reboot is a captivating and hugely enjoyable action adventure which looks set to kick off a superb series. I can't wait for book two!

Best Scene: Jem and Iris in the opening scene of Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie

Typical Karen McCombie characters, Jem and Iris are warm and friendly from the first time we meet them - as seen in Chapter 1 with narrator Jem asking her hypochondriac friend "how can you FEEL a squeak?" as Iris complains about her knee squeaking. I swear that I'd have known just from that scene I was reading a Karen McCombie book, and that I'd absolutely love it.

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