Thursday 26 December 2013

YA Yeah Yeah Year-Ends Day 1: Best MG and Best Supporting Character (Male)

The plan for this year's YA Yeah Yeah Year-Ends is a quite ambitious one - I'm going to announce shortlists of 5 for each category at the rate of 2 a day (apart from the 2 biggest categories) up until January 2nd. Then on January 3rd I'll take a break from it for a guest blog from LAURA LAM (can you tell I'm excited?!) and announce the winners on January 5th and 6th. In a slight change from my mid-years, when character awards were only for YA books, they're now open to YA and MG books. Although I've resisted giving any to adult books, which I did in the mid-years... (Oh, look, I'm clearly making this up as I go along, alright?)

I would absolutely love it if people posted saying what their picks would be in each category, or tweeted me and let me know! Schedule below. All lists are in alphabetical order by book title or character name. Oh, and I've limited it to one win per book, although there are some which have quite a few nominations...

Thurs 26th
Best MG/Best SC male
Fri 27th
Best pre-2013/Best SC female
Sat 28th
Best adult/best MC female
Sun 29th
Best YA spec/best MC male
Mon 30th
Best ending
Tues 31st
Best YA historical/best non-rom couple
Wed 1st
Best romantic couple/best overall cast
Thurs 2nd
Best YA contemporary

Best MG

In a land tormented by the screams of 999 souls, victims of dreadful experiments which have taken place since the despicable coward Villius Ren betrayed a king and seized power for himself, a young boy is about to become a hero.

Adult crime writer Alex Barclay turns her hand to children's fantasy with sensational results here. Oland and the girl he meets are both fabulous characters but it's the world-building here which made this one of the best of the year for me.

Dakkar, son of an Indian rajah, is sent to study with Count Oginski after being expelled from several different schools. Initially unhappy, he starts to enjoy learning from the mysterious count, and when Oginski is kindnapped by masked men, he sets out tor rescue his mentor. Can he take on the kidnappers, giant sea monsters, and an evil maniac to save the day?

Mayhew departs from the world he'd created for the loosely linked Mortlock books to give us a wonderful classic-type children's adventure story which bears similarities to Jules Verne. Moving at a rattling pace, this also manages to give us a really satisfying ending while simultaneously setting up the rest of the series very well.


It’s a busy month for Pea and her family, with four birthdays! Clover has an Alice in Wonderland-themed party to celebrate her upcoming starring role in a play, Tinkerbell has a magician booked for hers, but what kind of party could Pea have? What she wants most of all is to have her long-lost father appear… could her wish possibly come true?

Speaking of books which remind me of classic children's stories, I always compare the Pea's Book series to modern-day Noel Streatfeilds. I love the relationship between Pea, her sisters, and their mother, and found this far less predictable than most MG books. Book 4 is one of my most anticipated of 2013.

Lord Greystoke is looking for his cousin Tarzan – but while he claims he merely wants to be reunited with his long-lost relation, Robbie and Jane are suspicious of his true motives. Can they find their friend to warn him before the nobleman reaches him, and just why is Lord Greystoke so keen to brave the wilds of Africa?

I think the first two in Andy Briggs's Tarzan reboot are great, but the third is the best by miles. Tarzan is well-handled as a tough character who's on the side of good without being very nice about it, Jane is a stunning heroine, and there are some really interesting characters - in particular, heroism here comes from unusual places. There's also a strong, but not preachy, message about our responsibility towards nature.

Julian Twerski did something bad. So bad, that it got him suspended from school. When he returns, his English teacher asks him to write a journal about it, in exchange for getting out of doing a report on Shakespeare. Julian reluctantly accepts - but would rather be writing about sending love letters for a friend, blowing up fireworks, or pretty much anything else except telling Mr Selkirk about what he wants to hear.

What initially seems like a bunch of loosely connected short stories eventually becomes one of my favourite coming of age tales for many years. I absolutely fell in love with this - to the point where I read it, smiled with satisfaction, and reread it nearly straight away. Goldblatt manages to look at bullying, peer pressure, power, responsibility and growing up, and frame them all within a wonderful setting of 1960s New York.

Best Supporting Character (Male)

Hunter, the new - and reluctant - mentor to lead character Ross Bentley in this wonderful sequel to The Million Dollar Gift - is a complex character who gives Ross the training he desperately needs despite not particularly liking him. The way the relationship between the pair develops is excellent and the gradual revelation of Hunter's past is brilliantly done.


'Sootie' Soap is one of those incredibly rare characters, someone involved in a love triangle who I wish we'd seen more of! The interplay between him, main character Sophronia, and his rival for her affections, Lord Mersey, is great. Both of the two boys are very well-written and it's easy to see why both tempt the heroine, but I'm firmly Team Soap here - he's clever and a great match for Sophronia's wits.

Charming, clever and confident, pirate Sturmhond is easy to compare to Captain Jack Sparrow. And while I hadn't realised prior to reading this book that what teen novels were crying out for was a character in the same mould as Captain Jack, then trust me, they were. You could actually argue that Sturmhond is, if anything, too charismatic as he completely steals the story to the point where I wanted to skip through scenes without him in, but he plays a significant part in the book, so that means there's an awful lot of awesome parts to it.

Have A Little Faith is crammed full of brilliant characters, but Westy is one of my two favourites. (People who've heard me raving about this on Twitter will probably guess that you'll be reading more about this one when we get to best Female Supporting Character.) He's a complete idiot in many ways but has a heart of gold and is so perfectly brought to life that he made me laugh out loud on nearly every page he was on. As a teacher, I've met several students like Westy and they weren't necessarily easy to teach, but they were always entertaining. Reading about him is even more so!


New babysitter Zoran, kind, caring and funny, just steals every scene he's in in Farrant's latest book. He's the best possible person to help look after a family still reeling from the death of narrator Bluebell's sister Iris a few years before this book starts.


  1. I read sadly little middlegrade. You have got me intrigued about Twerp though, I must try and finish it. Not that Ive read any of the YA on your male SC list either! I have heard After Iris is really emotional, but never got round to it.

  2. I really need to read more middle grade fiction. I think I said this same thing the last time you did awards like this :)

  3. I so want to read more middle grade - I've loved every single one of the few I've read to date. Maybe it should be a resolution!