Welcome to Smugglivus 2011! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2011, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2012.
Who: Stephanie, of Stephanie Reads, a blog dedicated to YA made of awesome, as well as other assorted literary bits and bobs. Not to mention, Stephanie was the force and voice behind online outrage when it was revealed that Rick Yancey’s Printz Award-Winning Monstrumologist books were being dropped by the publisher – and because of Stephanie and bloggers like her, Rick Yancey’s series was granted a reprieve.
Thank you so much for inviting me to take part in Smugglivus, Book Smugglers! I’ve so enjoyed following Smugglivus and I’m stoked to be a contributor this year. This has been an exciting year for YA, so let’s plunge ahead with a few of my favorite reads from 2011!
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
I have a pet peeve with books set in Paris. In novels, Paris tends to be painted as the postcard version of itself, the view only very brief tourists and people who’ve never been there have. The real Paris is much more complicated, much more gnarly, much better than the postcard. The Paris in Revolution is romanticized, but still captures as close to a real sense of Paris as I’ve read. Andi, the protagonist, is wonderfully angsty without being annoying, and Donnelly’s prose is up there with the best YA authors today.
Chime by Franny Billingsley
It would be difficult for me to gush about this book too much. I adored the constantly surprising mélange of historical details, fantasy elements, and the truly authentic humanity of the characters. On a language level, picking up Chime is like cracking open a treasure chest.
The Minister’s Daughter by Julie Hearn
This book is like Chime’s twin sister, historical fantasy at its finest.
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
The imagery in this book is visceral to the point of eliciting genuine disgust, and that’s an awesome thing. It’s about modern-day grave robbers, and some of the descriptions of exhumed corpses are the most gnarly yet delicately beautiful passages I’ve ever read. These dead bodies are better developed than some protagonists I’ve read.
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
My favorite contemporary of the year. This book stayed with me long after I’d finished it. What I was struck with in this book is the realness of the two girl protagonists, particularly Charlie Duskin, in whom I have found a literary kindred spirit.
Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner
This is being marketed toward adults but has every element of a fantastic YA contemporary. The relationship between Vaclav and Lena is powerful enough to propel the story and the prose is unselfconsciously beautiful.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Moira Young juggled some seriously disparate tones in this book and melded them with fantastic success. It is a novel that almost defies categorization—a post-apocalyptic, western, romance, adventure story with seriously comic, scary, and heart-wrenchingly emotional aspirations. I love when YA authors take advantage of all the genre-bending possibilities inherent in YA, and I adore Blood Red Road especially for being a dystopian novel that was happy to be fun and not take itself too seriously.
What I’m Looking Forward to in 2012
The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey
2011 wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting had the events surrounding the resurrection of the Monstrumologist series not occurred (props to The Book Smugglers for playing such an integral role in those shenanigans). This third book in the series came out in September and I haven’t yet read it, mostly because I feel such kindred with these books that every time I go to take it off the shelf, I can’t bare the idea of it being read—because once it’s read, it can never be new again. I plan on remedying that in early 2012, though.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
I’m a massive fan of Graceling and Fire and have been following Kristin Cashore’s blog for years, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bitterblue. I feel like I’ve been hearing about Bitterblue for so long, I’m almost surprised when I remember I haven’t read it yet.
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
This book, which is by the author of A Little Wanting Song, is already out in Australia. I’ve heard great things.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
A giant, giant fan of Zusak’s The Book Thief, I have high hopes for this one.
Thank you, Stephanie!