Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reflections on the 2010 National Book Awards (YPL)

I've finally finished reviewing all five of the 2010 National Book Award finalists in Young People's Literature. Yes, I did read them all before the award ceremony! But I didn't get my review of Ship Breaker posted until yesterday.

Naturally, I'm thrilled that Mockingbird won. Of the five books, the two I rated most highly were Mockingbird and Lockdown (both got five of five stars on Goodreads). I gave four stars to both One Crazy Summer and Ship Breaker, and three stars to Dark Water.

Mockingbird is still my favorite, mainly because I think Kathy Erskine nailed the voice of Caitlin, an eleven-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome, as well as the reactions of the people around her.

One Crazy Summer and Mockingbird are both being discussed as Newbery contenders on Heavy Medal. However, the guidelines and criteria for the National Book Award are very different from those for the Newbery Medal. The NBA is awarded by a panel of authors, who are allowed to make up their own criteria, while the Newbery Medal is decided by a committee of librarians, who are given very strict criteria. So winning the NBA doesn't make Mockingbird a favorite for the Newbery; in fact, One Crazy Summer seems to be holding that position.

So what's next? I may read a few other Newbery contenders, but as we're heading into the holiday season, I have no formal plans.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This is the fifth and final installment of Kathleen's reviews of the 2010 National Book Award finalists in Young People's Literature.

Ship Breaker is a dystopian novel, set in a post-oil future. Oil is scarce, and the earth is showing the effects of climate change (New Orleans is all or mostly underwater). The rich have developed alternative travel technology in the form of fast-moving clipper ships, but naturally these are only available to the rich.

The poor, like Nailer, live in squats, camps and shacks, and earn a bare living doing salvage work or working in shipyards. And the workers aren't much better off than slaves. Nailer's job is to scavenge copper wire from wrecked and abandoned oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. But a "city-killer" hurricane leads him to a clipper ship, a girl, and adventure.

The book is fast-moving and cinematic. Bacigalupi's descriptions of Nailer's adventures would fit right into an action movie. It's also suspenseful and kept me reading.

Bacigalupi has a sequel on the way, titled The Drowned Cities. It's due out in 2011.