Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Soaring Eagle book award -- 2016 nominees

Every year, students in Wyoming nominate books to contend for the Soaring Eagle book award -- a state award that recognizes excellence in Young Adult fiction and nonfiction, based on peer nominations and peer voting.  This year's list of nominees has been on the shelves -- or, rather, off the shelves -- since school began in late August.  Interested students have been reading and talking about these titles since then, in preparation for the final voting period, which will take place from February 15 to March 15  this year.  At that time, one of the list of nominated titles will be named this year's Soaring Eagle book award winner. 

For the final reading push before the voting period, I'll be reviewing the list of fifteen nominees a few at a time.  Besides being on the list of SEBA nominees, each of these titles offers a glimpse of what is new and popular among young adult readers.  

This week's first set of titles represents dytopia, a genre that, while not necessarily new, remains incredibly popular among young adult and adult readers.  In each of these novels, some sort of cataclysmic event has altered the world as we know it, creating a society of disorder, violence and destruction.  Interestingly, we are seeing a move in YA fiction from dystopias brought about by technology, to those brought on by natural disasters . . . as evidenced by the following three nominees. 

Brandon Sanderson

Ten years ago calamity happened, an explosive event that transformed the people it touched into Epics, superhumans. Each Epic has a unique set of powers, and some are more intense than others.  The Epics begin to take over, controlling their own personal kingdoms, and turning the Averages into slaves. David lives in one such kingdom, known as Newcago, run by the most powerful Epic, Steelheart.  Steelheart can control the elements, turning anything, except the living, into steel; thus, he is believed to be invincible.  People say that nothing can pierce his skin . . . but David has seen him bleed once, long ago.  David wants to get revenge on Steelheart for his own personal tragedy; however, no one fights back except the Reckoners, a small group who target and kill only the Epics. In order to enact his vengeance, David must find a way to join them so that he can restore order to the world and bring justice to those he loves.
This is the first title in Sanderson's Reckoners series; the sequels are Firefight; and Calamity (to be released in the spring of 2016).

Mike Mullin
Alex is more than due for a weekend home without his family. While they travel out of town, Alex has big plans to play all the video games he wants and to hang out with his friends. Suddenly, power is disrupted; a series of earthquake-like tremors destroys the streets in his town; and the sky turns an ominous gray color.  Alex ventures out of his home, only to learn that the Yellowstone volcano has exploded -- a caldera so large that its explosion destroys life in the entire Western half of the United Sates, and sends the rest of the world into days of complete darkness. Without any means of transportation or communication, Alex decides to venture east in search of his family. He endures hunger, nearly fatal weather conditions and horribly violent people. With Darla, a teen that he meets on his journey, to accompany him, Alex must endure a world where no one is safe and people will do anything to survive. What are Alex and Darla willing to do in order to live in this dangerous new world?
Although this is a work of fiction, the science is extremely well-researched, and based on predictions of what might happen should Yellowstone explode.  This is the first in Mullin's trilogy; the sequels are Ashen Winter and Sunrise.
Ship Breaker
Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer lives on what used to the Gulf Coast.  In a time after global flooding drowns cities along the coast and destroys the offshore oil industry, Nailer works on grounded oil tankers, scavenging for copper wire.  His requires him to crawl through the innards of the ship in order to find every bit of wire available, which will hopefully bring survival for another day.  It is a hard life, where food and shelter are never guaranteed, and survival is determined by sheer luck.  Nailer’s only solace from this harsh world is his friend Pima and her mother.  Murder is an everyday occurrence, justifiable if it brings the murderer more food and money.  Nailer and Pima struggle to hold on to their dignity while living in such a brutal world.  Everything changes when they find the wreckage of an immaculate clipper ship full of luxuries and goods.  If they can keep the wreckage a secret, a new life and unimaginable security is in store for them.  But when Nailer finds a teenage girl still aboard the ship, he faced a hard choice.  Will Nailer use the girl to buy his own survival, or will he hold on to his humanity in the face of a world that tells him not to?
Besides being nominated for a Wyoming Soaring Eagle book award, Bacigalupi's debut YA novel has been named a finalist for both the American Library Association's Printz award, and the National Book Award.  His companion novel, Drowned Cities, explores Nailer's world from another point of view.
I hope you'll enjoy one of these three YA dystopias.  I'll look at some SEBA nominees that feature a different genre next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment