Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews: I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. Not only did it resolutely avoid the conventions of the stereotypical cancer book, it was literally laugh-out-loud, tears-in-your-eyes funny. It’s hard to avoid comparing it to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, of course. Both have significant strengths, but Me & Earl has a down to earth, groddy teenage boy sensibility that’s really hard to resist. (That said–teenage boy; some people’s mileage may vary.) I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts about this one, especially given that we have Me & Earl and TFIOS in the same year.
Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton: I read Blood Magic, Gratton’s first book, when it came out and it was okay. I wasn’t amazed by it, but I didn’t dislike it either. But I’d been hearing good things about Blood Keeper in the blogosphere and decided to take a chance. I’m so glad I did. Gratton completely blows the first book out of the water. Blood Keeper is a beautifully written story from first to last, with compelling characters. I loved Mab, who is proud and responsible and makes mistakes. To me, she read as entirely human and therefore sympathetic–the mistakes she made weren’t out of malice and only made me want to hug her (more discussion here). Also, Will! Will is awesome! I loved and totally bought the romance.Splendours and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz: A book that falls awkwardly on the mg/YA divide. I’ve heard some good arguments for counting it as mg (and therefore Newbery eligible) but to me the tone seemed more YA. Also, I do agree that Lizzie and Parcefal read young, but I thought they were supposed to. Anyway, none of that really has anything to do with the story. The language here is beautiful–Schlitz is an effortless prose writer and does well with the Victorian language. I was personally less taken with the story, partly because there were very few surprises, aside perhaps from Dr. Wintermute turning out to be not as bad as I originally expected. So, it’s a good book, definitely, but in the context of Newbery? I’m not sure. And I do know I just tried to make a case for Splendours as YA and then talked about the Newbery–I think it reads too young to be a real Printz contenda, but we’ll see if anyone argues that when Someday talks about it.
Planesrunner by Ian McDonald: I’m always happy to get proper YA scifi, which this is. It started out extremely strong–the story begins with Everett’s scientist father kidnapped before his eyes, and of course the police don’t believe him. I thought that the middle section was a little bloated–I got bogged down in the early time of Everett’s stay in the new plane, which lost the urgency of his search for his father. But I can see that McDonald essentially had to do all of his worldbuilding and character introduction at that point, and things picked up again at the end. Anyone else read this one? I haven’t seen many reviews so I’m curious if it’s flying a little under the radar, or if it’s just not the type of thing my blog friends tend to read.