Friday, 23 December 2011

YA Oscars 2011

I originally had grand plans for a YA Oscars where I’d try to get some other bloggers involved, do a shortlist, and so on – but life, as it usually does, got in the way!

Anyway, here goes a somewhat condensed version. Last year’s can be found here while my similar midyear post (with a couple of the same winners) can be found here.

I’ve limited books to one award each, and categories tend to fluctuate a little to allow me to showcase the books I really want to praise. Links go to reviews at The Bookbag, which is where I originally reviewed most of them.

Best Male Character in a Lead Role – Bilal, from A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master

Master’s tale of an India on the verge of Partition is a stunning novel, with a truly memorable cast of characters of whom Bilal is the best. His struggle to hide the truth about Partition from his dying father is beautifully handled.

Best Female Character in a Lead Role – Violet, from Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Medium’s daughter Violet is stunned when a ghost appears to her – especially since she had always believed that ghosts were merely creations of her fraudulent mother’s trickery. Her quest to solve the dead girl’s murder is fabulous; she’s a really spunky and likable heroine.

Best Male Character in a Supporting Role – Link, from Beautiful Chaos by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia.

Since Link won this last year, I spent five minutes trying to think of someone else to spread the love around a bit. Really, though, it’s a no contest, as Link is such a wonderfully loyal friend and a fantastic character in his own right that I couldn’t give it to anyone else.

Best Female Character in a Supporting Role – Cynthia, from Dark Mirror by MJ Putney

Given that Cynthia’s first entrance into the book makes her seem like a stereotypical bitchy teenager, her subsequent development is all the more impressive.

Best Debut Novel – For The Record by Ellie Irving

Super sweet charmer with some of the most likeably eccentric characters for ages, in a wonderfully described Jersey village. The story of the villagers rallying round to save their homes by breaking world records is an inspired idea which is brilliantly written by Irving.

Best Fantasy Novel – The Dagger and Coin: The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

I feel I should be recommending a YA book given this is technically a YA blog, but Abraham’s phenomenal start to this series beats down all other considerations. Taking four incredibly overused archetypes – A cynical hero escaping before the fighting starts, a noble son forced into war when he wants to be studying, an orphaned girl disguised as a boy to save a fortune, and a court baron trying to protect his king’s life from traitors – Abraham turns them into incredibly well-rounded characters who I came to care deeply about.

Best Novel for Younger Teens – Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

A real weepie, and beautifully written, LaFleur’s second novel is a staggeringly good coming of age tale as she tells of a young girl struggling to cope with a new school, returning family members, and the legacy left to her by her dead father.

Best Novel for Older Teens – 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. (I have a feeling this hit the UK in 2010 if we’re getting technical, but it’s too brilliant not to put in.)

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 Author – Rick Yancey, for The Monstrumologist: Isle of Blood

560 pages is a crazy length for a YA book, but I only realised this at 3:30 or so in the morning having stayed up half the night finishing the third in this series – while reading it, I didn’t even notice the length. What was always a good series has become absolutely stellar by now, and Yancey’s use of language is phenomenal, as are his characterization and dialogue.

Favourite Interview of the Year – Okay, I have absolutely loved doing all the interviews and really couldn’t separate the numerous fabulous authors who’ve given their time to talk to me. That said, Savita Kalhan deserves a special mention for being the first ever author I interviewed and while her book The Long Weekend was out in 2010 and won one of my awards last year, I’ll take this opportunity to recommend it one more time.

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