These books are 2013 Cybils YA Speculative Fiction Finalists.
We've had to be good and quiet and not tell what we've been loving and hating as we've been reading, but we have a good, good, GOOD shortlist this year - and we got it with very little fuss or muss. There were a lot of "good" books, but few "great" books we were willing to arm wrestle over - an interesting trend. This may be my last Cybils serving as a first tier judge, so it was a great year to go out on - thank you so much Hallie, Sarah, Leila, Karen, Patrice, and Sheila for another fabulous year, and thank you, Cybils, for six really fun years judging.
Here are my faves amongst the few, blurbs taken from the Cybs page:
Speculative Fiction: Young AdultSarah Beth DurstWalker Books for Young ReadersNominated by: Leila RoyConjured is a multiverse fantasy about a magician, a dark carnival of horrors and delights, a group of snarky, teenaged magic users, and a protagonist who is hugely powerful but also hugely vulnerable. It's a cop story about a girl in witness protection. It's a story about friendship and first love, about discovering one's self, about finding a safe haven in a library, and about what it means to be human.Our narrator is Eve, a girl who doesn't entirely know who she is; who isn't sure who or what, exactly, she's being protected from; whose memory is so fragmented that she sometimes loses entire weeks of her life. By turns, it is frightening, funny, romantic, and heartwarming, and it is, from beginning to end, completely mesmerizing. As Eve unravels the mysteries that surround her, it becomes more and more clear just how layered, complex, beautifully realized, and wholly original her voice--and Durst's vision--is. Upon finishing the book, readers will want to immediately turn back to the beginning to read it again with a completely new perspective.— Leila Roy,Bookshelves of Doom.com/Robin McKinleyNancy Paulsen BooksNominated by: Stephanie BurgisMaggie's mother marrying a backwards, Oldworld geek with a thick accent and a lamentable fashion sense isn't the worst of it. It's abruptly seeing what no one else seems to see - shadows. Newworld belongs to science - bright lights, reason, and technology is what keeps its denizens safe. But with every tremor shaking up her safe, familiar life, Maggie realizes that Newworld - and everything else - isn't what she's been told, and sometimes looking into the shadows lets a person see.The Summer PrincePanelists were nearly unanimous in their love for this fast-paced novel with obedient dogs, less obedient algebra books, quirky humor and loveable characters who are clearly a tribute to the imagination of Diana Wynne Jones. Robin McKinley's Shadows is a classic fantasy novel which reveals a new world to a reluctant heroine, and sends her on a fantastic journey. McKinley touches on themes of civil liberty, freedom, and knowledge in this book and reminds us that we can take what we fear, and use it to arm ourselves to take on the universe.Fantastic.— Tanita Davis,Finding WonderlandAlaya Dawn JohnsonArthur A LevineNominated by: thereadingzoneIn the lush city of Palmares Tres, June Costa creates art that's sure to make her legendary. In Enki, the bold new Summer King, she sees more than his amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist. Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die. Set in a world rich with organic diversity, The Summer Prince is sure to take readers on a journey through the beautiful Palmares Tres and the lives of its inhabitants. Teens, especially, will relate with the pain the book’s protagonist, June, feels, wanting to be recognized for her art in a society where being under 30 means you are no one. In addition, the complex relationship between June, her best friend, Gil, and the one they both love, Enki is sure to pull at heartstrings, making readers fall uncontrollably in love. The Summer Prince is a fantasy like no other, and from its very first sentence, it promises to amaze.— Patrice Caldwell,Whimsically YoursRobin LaFeversHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Nominated by: Laurie Ann Thompson
In late fifteenth-century Brittany, Sybella is sent from the convent of Saint Mortain to her ancestral home, where her faith will guide her in the assassination of her father, the horrible Count d’Albret. She is ready withcrossbow, garrote, even poison—but she cannot see the marque of death that allows her murder to be sanctioned by her god, and cannot decide whether or how to act. Throughout Dark Triumph, the sequel to Grave Mercy that can be read as a standalone, Sybella struggles with dissonance: mercy and justice, fate and free will, betrayal and loyalty, vengeance and forgiveness, family and freedom, faith and skepticism. And there’s no time to delay, no time to consider, because France could invade at any moment. Dark Triumph is a grim but hopeful fantasy that blends intrigue, danger, and a little romance into a real historical setting.— Hallie Tibbets, Undusty New Books
I ADORE SHADOWS, CONJURED was our first (and only - but we're getting to that!) "Reading In Tandem" selection last year at Wonderland, and the last two books, THE SUMMER PRINCE and DARK TRIUMPH tied for my third place in the top three. For the last two books in the YA speculative fiction finalist list, as well as the rest of the finalists from all the hard work of every first round judge - 213 books in YA Spec Fic, people!! - check out the Cybils page.