Oh man. So today's the day the National Book Awards are announced, and I didn't get around to writing up little reviews of the finalists. Not surprising. Still, I have to make a prediction, just so I can be wrong again.
But I'm sort of torn. Personally I thought Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was the best of the bunch.
If you haven't read it, it's story set in a future gulf coast where the cities are drowned and gangs of indentured servants scavenge old oil rigs. And then a wrecked clipper shows up with a not-quite-dead rich girl aboard, and adventure ensues. Plus there are bioengineered half-men—there's no way a story can go wrong if it's got that! So I enjoyed reading it; it felt similar to Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion in some ways, but I also realize that I'm sort of a sucker for a good dystopia, and I might be giving it extra points just for that.
My second fave, Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers, will probably win. Maybe. It's about a kid in jail who gets selected for a special work program that has him cleaning rooms in a nursing home. Of course he meets a patient who has a big impact and blah-di-blah, but this book should win a thousand awards for avoiding the cheesiness that you'd expect from such a plot. Good characters all around, good nuanced story. Etc. etc. Plus Myers has earned this. It's his third nomination—just give him the award already.
Dillon Dillonby Kate Banks Gracelingby Kristin Cashore Waiting for Normal by Leslie Conner The Seeing Stoneby Kevin Crossley-Holland The Ropemakerby Peter Dickinson Olive’s Oceanby Kevin Henkes Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Iain Lawrence Girlhearts by Norma Fox Mazer Baby by Joseph Monninger Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Palby Christopher Moore Private Peacefulby Michael Morpurgo What They Found: Love on 145th Streetby Walter Dean Myers Ties that Bind, Ties that Break by Lensey Namioka Lirael: Daughter of the Clayby Garth Nix Anahita's Woven Riddleby Meghan Nuttall Sayres Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer by Gary Paulsen A Darkling Plain by Reeve Philip Imani All Mine by Connie Porter After by Francine Prose The Invention of Hugo Cabretby Brian Selznick The Trapby John Smelcer The Center of the Worldby Andreas Steinhofel The Amulet of Samarkandby Jonathan Stroud Skim by Mariko Tamaki Blankets by Craig Thompson Runaways, Vol. 1by Brian K. Vaughan The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune by Lori Aurelia Williams Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson