Miss Megan’s Printz Picks

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…

codenameverityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinHyperion Books; 16.99; Ages 13-adult

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.

9781419701764_zoomMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse AndrewsAmulet Books (Abrams); 16.95; Ages 14-adult

I love The Fault in Our StarsI 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.

Brides-of-Rollrock-IslandThe Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo LanaganKnopf Books for Young Readers (Random House); 17.99; Ages 14-adult

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.

jeppJepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine MarshHyperion Books; 16.99; Ages 14-adult

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!

11801954After the Snow by S.D. CrockettFeiwel & Friends; 16.99; Ages 13-adult

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.

Others to watch: The Diviners, Personal Effects, The Fault in Our Stars, Ask the Passengers

Disagree with me? Comment and tell me which titles should have made the list!

Our 2013 Printz Shortlist!

The Printz Award honors excellence in young adult literature, and there are some strong contenders this year. Here are the ones we think have a shot at the prize on January 28th!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinHyperion Books; 16.99

Ask the Passengers by A.S. KingLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers; 17.99

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenDutton Books; 17.99

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo LanaganKnopf Books for Young Readers; 17.99

Every Day by David LevithanKnopf Books for Young Readers; 17.99

Love YA? Tell us your picks for award season!

NPR’s List of 100 Best Teen Novels is Out!

NPR Books is known for their “Top 100” lists, which tally votes (from listeners like you!) for the most beloved titles in a given category. This summer, it’s all about the young adult books—click here to check out the list of the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels!

We were stoked to see a lot of our favorites on the list, including a few we’ve raved about on this very blog:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Scholastic

Megan says: Collins’ characters are incredibly compelling, and she knows how to layer on the action like nobody’s business. If you haven’t read these yet, DO IT NOW. You won’t regret the decision. Just be warned that you may not be able to sleep until you’ve torn through all three novels.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; Dutton Books (Penguin)

Amanda says: Hazel and Augustus meet in the most unusual place — a cancer support group. Though the setting alone may lead a reader to believe the story will be heavy and depressing, it’s anything but. Filled with sarcasm and hysterical wit, you’ll be both laughing and crying through the entire book. Sometimes both at the same time!

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen; Speak (Penguin)

Maryam says: Auden is a serious student who as a kid did not have time for riding a bike because she was too busy studying and sitting in on literary discussions at the dinner table. Due to her parents’ constant arguing when she was a child, she learned to stay up all night, which only gave her more time to study.  Now,  the summer before she starts college, she goes to visit her father, step-mother, and newborn step-sister, and her entire life turns around.  In her late night wanderings she meets Eli, who helps her on her “quest” (as he phrases it) to do everything she missed out on as a kid.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith; St. Martin’s (Macmillan)

Megan says: Set in the 1930s, when England, like [protagonist] Cassandra, was teetering on the brink of the modern age, this is one of the most satisfying titles I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Cassandra’s narration is frank, witty, and utterly hilarious. This is one of those books you’ll want to read over and over. Cracking open that cover is like seeing an old friend!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman; Speak (Penguin)

Megan says: The gentle, unassuming writing style of If I Stay lends itself beautifully to the telling of this haunting and hopeful story. As author Gayle Forman weaves together past and present narratives, she creates a lovely, memorable tale that will thoroughly engage teen readers.

Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness; Candlewick (Random House)

Maryam says: Todd is a boy who has grown-up his whole life in New World (think of Earth 2.0). To the settlers’ surprise, when they landed on New World, they could suddenly hear everyone’s thoughts, nothing is secret. When Todd is told that he needs to leave his town before his next birthday, trouble arises; after all, how can you keep thoughts secret when everyone can hear them?

This is a mere sampling of the books on NPR’s list that we absolutely love! Drop by the store to check out more of the 100 Best Teen Novels!

Any books you think should have been included on the 100 Best list? Post a comment! You can also see the full list of 235 finalists here.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

You know we’re big fans of adults who love well crafted young adult novels. We have a book club just for you guys, that’s how great we think you are. So take notice, teens and grownups alike: you’ll want to read this one. Immediately.

When Greg’s (sort of) ex-girlfriend is diagnosed with leukemia, he finds himself prodded into a half-hearted friendship. Enter Earl, Greg’s only other friend, a pseudo-thug with a Napoleon complex who curses like a sailor. Of course, friendship blossoms between all three. This novel of unlikely friendship is a wry, self-effacing, sarcastic read that is impossible to put down. It’s the gems of discovery made by each character that make this book so memorable, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s told with a hilarious, cinematic tone. This is an honest, smart, belly laugh-inducing, tearjerker of a novel.

We’ve seen several teen reads with themes of cancer and illness this year, titles like The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, and, most notably, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. What makes these books fantastic is their unwavering honesty. Jesse Andrews achieves this brilliantly. His characters feel like real people–flawed, confused, emotional, and hilarious.

I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl while commuting, and I had such a visceral response to the story that I found myself laughing out loud one moment and crying the next, all to the great confusion of my fellow passengers. Sorry, DC metro riders, but when you’ve got a book this good to read, it’s inevitably going to turn into a shared experience for all of us.

Read on, lovers of YA. Read on.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews; Abrams Publishing; 16.95; Ages 14+

The Fault in Our Stars: A must have!

John Green has made quite the name for himself in the YA world, with novels like Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska. His latest was just released this week and is already getting lots of positive buzz in the book world. Several of us have read it and absolutely love it!

Hazel and Augustus meet in the most unusual place — a cancer support group. Though the setting alone may lead a reader to believe the story will be heavy and depressing, it’s anything but. Filled with sarcasm and hysterical wit, you’ll be both laughing and crying through the entire book. Sometimes both at the same time!

Teens and adults will each take something away from this heartfelt and honest novel of first love, whimsy, and raw soul. Buy it for everyone you know!

We have lots of copies in stock, ALL of them signed! We’d be happy to set one aside for you (or ship you one if you’re out of the area). We also have copies of Green’s other titles for you to purchase, as well. Just give us a call! 703-548-4092.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; $17.99; Dial Books; Ages 14+

Paper Towns has something for everyone

papertowns1Paper Towns This is a great novel about a mysterious girl and the boy who loves her and the road trip that brought them together.

Paper Towns by John Green  $17.99 (hardcover)


“The funniest serious mystery novel about love and Walt Whitman.”

Paper Towns  truly has something for everyone; it is a mystery, a love story, a teen adventure, and a literary analysis of Walt Whitman.


Paper Towns is as much a novel about Q as it is about Margo Roth Spiegelman.  When Margo disappears one night, everyone believes that it is just like the last times that she ran away and she’ll just come back on her own when she wishes, but Q isn’t so sure because Margo has left him a trail of clues as to where she went; a poster in her window, a record, and a highlighted copy of “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman.  Though his friends Radar and Ben Starling aren’t too interested in where Margo ran away to, Q spends his days pouring over “Song of Myself”.  To Q, graduation is the lowest priority when Margo’s strings might have all snapped.