Meet the Panelists: YA Fiction Roundtable, Part II

If you joined us last Thursday for Part I of our YA Fiction panelist roundtable, you're no doubt eager to hear what else the nominating panelists have to say (and probably wishing you could be a fly on the wall for their discussions of nominated titles!). YA Fiction
category organizer Jackie Parker (Interactive Reader) chimes in with three more revealing and thought-provoking questions about young adult books:

What book(s) do you wish you could get into more teens' hands?

Amanda Snow (A Patchwork of Books):
I wish I could get more of my teens to read The Book Thief. I connected so well to that book, as did the teens that DID read it. There are just so many that won't crack the cover. It looks too thick maybe…

Abby Johnson (Abby (the) Librarian):
I wish I could get more teens to read the Midnighters books by Scott Westerfeld. We have so many fans of Uglies at my library and I think the Midnighters are really overlooked.

Leila Roy (Bookshelves of Doom):
I'll go with another Scott Westerfeld title — Peeps! Also Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca, the more complex fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones and Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light.

Jocelyn Pearce (Teen Book Review):
Everything Scott Westerfeld has written. So Yesterday and Extras are my personal favorites, but I love all of his books.

Kate Fall (Author2Author):
I'm surprised that more teens haven't read Libba Bray. She's so awesome. I also love Terry Pratchett.

If you were to hop into the plot of a book, what book would it be, and how would you figure into the story?

Kate: Speaking of Terry Pratchett, wouldn't it be a blast to visit Discworld for vacation? I don't think I'd want to live there, though. I'd miss my books and the Internet too much. But I'd love the 4-week tour of Discworld, starting in Ankh-Morpork. I wonder if my family would go for it?

Becky Laney (Becky's Book Reviews):
This is a fun one for me. I'd want to be in an Anne book. I'd like to be one of those poor souls that Anne befriends and takes under her wings. Anne has this magical charm about her. And she's always getting involved in her friends lives and working a little magic. She's a fairy godmother sort that has a way of making people's lives better.

Amanda: Oh this is a fun one! If I could hop into any young adult book, it would probably be any of the books in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. That may be a strange answer, but I actually have 3 close girlfriends that I've had since high school and we act very similar to the girls in the story. Now…all we need are the pants that make us all look fabulous!

Abby: I'd love to hop into Suite Scarlett and be an older sister in the kooky Martin family. I'd also love to hop in Dramarama, but mostly because I think going to musical theatre camp sounds like a lot of fun. πŸ™‚

Leila: I'd want to live in Damar. Specifically in the blue courtyard of the stone city of The Blue Sword, with Harry and Corlath and Mathin and Tsornin and everybody. I don't even need to be a part of the story. I just want to live in their world.

Is there a book you'd change the ending to? How would you make it all turn out?

Kate: OK, I realize that Feed by M.T. Anderson ended as it should, and proposing a happier ending is like that old Simpsons episode where Bart discovers the hidden reel of the alternate "shooting spree" ending to It's a Wonderful Life. But the ending to Feed still haunts me. Couldn't there have been one tiny glimmer of hope?

Amanda: I don't like to think I would change the ending on anything, but I was very unhappy with how Breaking Dawn ended. I was looking for some tragedy, darn it! It was all too neat and tied up like a bow. I don't typically enjoy books that have an awesome intensity until the end, where it seems the author gave up and just wrote the ending to finish.

Abby: I agree with Amanda that I'd change the ending of Breaking Dawn (okay, show of hands, how many of you would also change the ending of that book?). I just felt like it was really anticlimactic. Another book I'd change the ending to is Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume. I felt like it ended really abruptly and with many things not wrapped up. It's a shame because I really enjoyed the book right up until the end.

Leila: I wouldn't change the end of Breaking Dawn–it seemed hilariously fitting to me that after all the hand-wringing and drama of the first 3 3/4 books, that the whole thing would be anticlimactic. But I'm contrary like that. I'd chop the epilogue out of HP7, and while I was at it, I'd cut at least two hundred pages of the never-ending camping section.

Jocelyn: I, like Amanda and Abby, would change the ending of Breaking Dawn. It was just too happy. And I'd certainly make the same changes to Harry Potter 7 as Leila (though, looking back at it, there is some entertainment value in the fact that they thought it would be in some way helpful to go camping in the woods for months. It's just not that fun to actually have to read). Other than that, nothing comes to mind, though there are loads of books I'd have loved to see actually end properly; I hate it when books just stop. There's a time, a place, and a way of properly doing open-ended, and there are authors who don't seem to understand that.

Our hardworking YA Fiction panel deserves a resounding round of applause as they embark on the tough task of winnowing down this year's crop of nominees to a shortlist of standouts. Thanks to each of you for taking the time to participate in the roundtable!

–Sarah Stevenson, Deputy Editor