31 January 2011

For Your Consideration - 2011 Hugo Nominees

I know there's a lot of controversy going on right now in the WorldCon community over the proposal of a new award category for Children's and YA novels. One of the arguments (both for and against, depending on how you view it) is the question of whether or not there are Children's and YA books worth nominating. In that vein, here is my short-list of Children's and Young Adult books published in 2010 that are worthy of a Hugo:


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is a wonderful, provocative finisher to a series that has met critical and public acclaim. It debuted at #1 on the USA Today and New York Times Bestseller lists. Its publication netted Collins inclusion on Time Magazine's Most Influential People of 2010. The rights to Hunger Games have been optioned for a movie that is in development. All of this on top of a beautiful dystopia that defies all stereotypes and returns an honest, gritty look at the result of war and rebellion, even ones that are against unjust tyrants.

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Westerfeld has created a beautiful world that is strikingly different from our own based on only a few premises: what if Darwin continued his studies and discovered DNA and how to manipulate it, and what if countries either adopted that or utilized machine technology in protest? The result is a wonderful World War I alterna-history about two children that is entertaining and displays a great depth at a level that all ages can appreciate.


Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

((Note: at 44,300 words this book falls over the strict word limit but is within the 5000 words or 20% rule to be placed in this category [Constitution 3.2.9]))

I think this was the book from 2010 that impacted me the most. Lisabeth's characterization is amazingly good. I really felt that I could understand and identify with Lisabeth and her attraction to anorexia. The utilization of the four horsemen as a catalyst for both giving Lisabeth everything she wants and making her realize she doesn't really want any of it is very insightful, and the way Kessler pulls it off is truly gifted. If you only read one thing off this list I really hope it is Hunger.


“The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" in Zombies vs. Unicorns by Diana Peterfreund

This story is about a girl who finds a unicorn and, instead of killing it, tries to raise it as a pet. She discovers that with the unicorn around her "demon powers", which her parents call a curse, are actually heightened and useful. A great short about a girl discovering to value herself and her talents and follow her heart instead of her parents' debasing teachings).


"Bougainvillea" in Zombies vs. Unicorns by Carrie Ryan

This is a story about a girl whose father rules Curacao after the zombie uprising, keeping zombies off the island and everyone safe. Not everyone appreciates his ruthless rules, though, and through the conflict of obeying or rebelling Isa discovers her own power and autonomy and delivers an amazing twist ending.

“The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue” in Full Moon City by Holly Black

This was a truly gifted story. I love the parallels of transformation: girl into werewolf, girl into actress, actress into role. The thought that it took playing someone else to make Nadia comfortable with who she really is is an great twist. Lots of characterization and plot packed into such a short package.


Keith Thompson

His work on Leviathan and Behemoth is truly awesome, and his steampunk and cyberpunk art will captivate you.


Malinda Lo (2nd year of eligibility)

Her novel, Ash, was published in 2009 and is thus not eligible, but I certainly think its impact as an Andre Norton Nominee along with Scalzi's Zoe's Tale demonstrate that Lo is going to be an author to watch in the future.

Diana Peterfreund (2nd year of eligibility)

Diana's Unicorn series (Rampant and Ascendant) are truly excellent fantasy, tackling not only the ancient trope of a innocent girl as bait twisted in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer type way, but put it all in a shell of believable characterization that makes you love Astrid and care for her throughout all the stories. I believe Peterfreund is going to give us more truly special works in the future.

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