One of my favorite parts of my library job is the opportunity to visit our local schools to "booktalk" the year's Soaring Eagle book award nominees. A booktalk is just what it sounds like -- a short talk about a book, intended not to reveal the whole content, but to entice listeners to read that title. I've just returned to the library from two days at one of our junior high schools, booktalking to eight groups of seventh graders.
The Soaring Eagle book award is a program run tandemly by the Wyoming LIbrary Association and the Wyoming Reading Council. It is a youth book award program: all nominations come from youth in the state, and the youth do all the voting. Each year, a committee of teachers and librarians works to tally the votes and nominations, determine the current year's winners, and narrow down the list of nominees for the following year's award.
This year there are fifteen Young Adult fiction titles nominated for the Soaring Eagle book award. Students who read three of the fifteen will be able to vote for their favorite in March. The list is heavy on the paranormal, and on dystopian literature; these seem to be perennially popular genres for young adults.
Let's start through the list by taking a look at three nominees that focus on the paranormal, or supernatural, that is so fascinating to teens:
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. Evie thinks of herself as a fairly normal teenager: she has a favorite TV series, hates doing homework, and loves to shop. She does, however, have a very unusual job. She works for the International Paranormal Detection Agency, because Evie has the power to see through "glamours" to the paranormal creature disguised beneath. In her work, she identifies and helps to tag various paranormals -- vampires, werewolves, hags, and the like -- so they can be tracked, preventing them from preying on unsuspecting humans. Things change for Evie when she starts finding paranormals who have been brutally murdered. Something is hunting the paras -- and it seems to also be targeting Evie. Perhaps Evie is not as "normal" as she thinks she is. (The sequel to Paranormalcy has just been released; the second book is titled Supernaturally.)
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. Meghan Chase's life has never been ordinary, not since her father disappeared right in front of her when she was six. It's nearly ten years later, and Meghan's mom has remarried. Meghan has a hard time fitting in at high school: she doesn't have the latest technology; she lives quite a distance from town; and she mostly wears second-hand clothing. She's used to not having a normal life. Still, the day before her sixteenth birthday, even stranger things begin to happen. In the computer lab at school, words begin scrolling across her screen: "Meghan Chase, we know where you are. We're coming for you." Then her half-brother, a sweet little boy whom she adores, acts terrified of a monster in his closet. When her sweet stepbrother causes her mother to fall and hit her head, and then attacks Meghan and bites her leg, she knows things are definitely not right. Her good friend, Robin Goodfellow, confesses the truth: Meghan's brother has been stolen by the fey and replaced by a changeling. If Meghan wants her brother back, she must enter the dangerous world of the Unseelie court, and find him. (This is the first book in the Iron Fey series; sequels are The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen.)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. This paranormal romance is told in alternating points of view by the two main characters. 16-year-old Grace was attacked by a pack of wolves in the forest near her northern Minnesota home when she was 11. She didn't die, and has since watched the pack, not with fear, but with fascination. She particularly feels a kinship with a peculiar yellow-eyed wolf: her wolf.
Sam has been a wolf since he was 8. He has watched Grace for years from the woods, protecting her from his pack. He wants Grace to know the real Sam -- not the wolf Sam. But he knows that, with the cold of winter, his chances of showing Grace his real self grow fewer and fewer; with each shiver, he comes closer to losing himself for good. (This is the Wolves of Mercy Falls series; Shiver's sequels are Linger and Forever.)
There are three to start through the list; more next time!