Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The CYBILs So Far...

In case you didn’t know, I’m a judge for the CYBILs, which is an awesomesauce award given every year in various categories. I’m a round one judge for young adult fiction, which means I get to work with the other panelists to identify those books that make it to the next level.

I’ve read about thirty books so far, but here are the ones that stood out for me:

By the Time You read This I’ll be Dead by Julie Ann Peters

Synopsis: Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”— www.through-the-light .com.

While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.

Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life…isn’t it?

My Thoughts: This is a powerful book that doesn’t try to preach to readers, but very clearly lays out one girl’s path to suicide. I didn’t always agree with the character, and there were several points where I rolled my eyes, but Peters does a really good job of creating a very believable and broken character, one who still has her sense of humor. I liked the story in the end, even if the message was a little ambiguous.

The Brothers Story by Katherine Sturtevant

Synopsis: Teenage twins Kit and Christy have grown up amid grinding poverty in their Essex village. As Christy has been “simple” from birth, Kit is literally his brother’s keeper. But the latest hardships visited upon their country home by the Great Frost of 1683–84 bring Kit to frustration and despair, and he abandons Christy to make his way to London, seeking to better himself. There he finds work as an apprentice to a struggling artist and much else to take his mind off what he has left behind. But the time comes when he can no longer ignore the problem of his brother.
A fascinating portrait of a young person struggling to balance family and freedom, The Brothers Story is also a frank depiction of Restoration London in its bawdy, raucous glory.

My Thoughts: Historical fiction is very hit or miss for me. I have a degree in history, so I tend to get pulled out of a story when the inaccuracies pile up in favor of romantic developments. This story was refreshingly true to the time, and I really liked that it revolved around a time period not often explored. I also liked that it took the typical “issue” book format and gave it a new perspective.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

My thoughts: I love, love, loved this book. I have a lot of issues with all of the blank page heroines running around, not just in YA but across the reading spectrum. Bianca was not a flat character at all, and I found her inner struggles to be realistic and pretty effing funny. The romance was also satisfying, but didn’t bog down the rest of the story. Definitely a must read.

Stay tuned for more…


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