The Michael L. Printz Award honors achievement in young adult literature. Since this is probably my favorite age group to read, I’ve had to make some decisions about which books I loved because they appealed to my particular taste, and which ones could be destined for award greatness.
Those few, those happy few, are…
My favorite book of the year, hands down. I can’t rave about this title enough—it’s as close to perfect as any novel I’ve read in recent memory. Yes, there are a couple of minor flaws, but they’re nit-picky and unimportant and I don’t care. For sheer plot intricacy alone, Elizabeth Wein deserves recognition. For compelling characters that made me chortle with laughter one minute and weep (weep!) the next, I say give her the Printz. Give her the Printz right now.
I love The Fault in Our Stars, I really do. It deserves the scads of acclaim it has received. But what Earl has that I believe TFIOS lacks is a certain level of character credibility. Greg, Earl, and Rachel feel like teens I might actually meet, while Hazel and Augustus can only exist in the magical world of literature. Andrews is startlingly funny, and his conceit of writing various portions of the story in the format of a screenplay is brilliant. Absolutely deserving of an honor.
Lanagan walks the fine line between fascination and repulsion with breathtaking precision. There’s an incredible amount of control here—what could be a straight up creepy story becomes an emotionally compelling narrative that refuses to play with black and white judgments of right and wrong. Multiple storytelling perspectives often serve to muddy a plot, and I won’t say that’s untrue here, but it also gives a multidimensional perspective on the strange, magical selkie brides.
This is a book that we could see as a Newbery option, but it has crossover appeal for the Printz, too. Jepp is sixteen, and the issues he faces are often unique to young adulthood. It’s a coming of age story that involves finding true love and following—or fighting—fate. It’s got appeal for readers of multiple ages, but I consider it to be a more appropriate contender for the Printz. Fingers crossed for this wild card!
If the Chaos Walking series had a baby with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, it might resemble this book. The voice of Willo, the central character of Crockett’s novel, is both strange and engaging. I was haunted by it. After the Snow divides readers into two camps: those who were put off by the voice, and those who found it arresting and creative. I belong to the latter, and I think this title is unique enough to merit some recognition from the Printz committee.
Disagree with me? Comment and tell me which titles should have made the list!