Awards, Schmwards

Posted in Awards, Favorite Books at 12:45 pm by Janet

Ahem. I’m ready to talk about the awards now. Finally. First of all, I have to hand it to Bridget for calling it. She wrote about the Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book, and one of the Printz honor books, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  

Belatedly, I would like to give a shout-out to two of my favorite teen books of the year, The Hunger Games and John Green’s Paper Towns, neither of which got awards. Oh, John Green, you can’t win every year, but you are still my favorite. Sigh.

On to the actual Printz winners…with venom and spoilers. I read Disreputable History and loved it. This great boarding school story raises some intriguing questions about class and gender and is a must-read for budding feminists. It put me in the mindset to enjoy the Printz winner, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road, which is also set at a boarding school. I liked Saving Francesca. I was ready to love Jellicoe Road!

Alas, I have to be a voice of dissent. In my opinion, this book does not deserve an entire Printz award. It was a great half of a book. If I could, I would give it the Ntz Award, for best last half of a young adult novel.  The first half was slow, with unappealing characters, creeping action, and borderline confusing alternating narrative threads. The kids at this boarding school are fighting this “war” against the Townies and the Cadets. The war seems to have no purpose or cause, but everyone is all worked up about it anyway. This part, centered on 17-year-old house leader Taylor, switches off with the story of five friends living near the same boarding school years earlier. Why should I care about any of this? If this hadn’t been an award book, I would have chucked it out the window after 100 pages. Luckily, I held on. Halfway through the book, things change. The characters get more compelling and the idiot war slows down–the focus changes to relationships and putting together the past, with the two narratives meshing. This part is great. I started to really care about Taylor and her bizarro past. It’s complex and totally worthwhile. But overall, this book was too uneven for me to love. The Ntz Award is the best it’ll get from me.  

What do you think?


  1. Michele Thornton said,

    February 16, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Actually, Hunger Games did win a Cybil award! Check out the other winners: http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/

  2. Amanda said,

    February 22, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Oh my gosh Janet, you are so funny. The Ntz award! I know another award I’d like to create: one for the best first chapter of a book (followed by a lot of not-so-great chapters). We could call it Bright Beginnings, Stupid Middles and Ends.

  3. Bridget said,

    February 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Amanda and Janet, you are both too funny. Maybe we should start our own awards.

  4. Janet said,

    February 24, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Hm, maybe we should. Or Amanda can pull some strings with ALA to get some new awards started.

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