2008 Fantasy & Science Fiction Finalists

Elementary/Middle Grade:

Cabinet of Wonders
written by Marie Rutkoski

Petra Kronos lives in a small Czech village with her father, an artisan
who can move metal with his mind and work with invisible tools. When
her father is commissioned by the prince to build a marvelous clock, he
goes off to Prague–and comes back blinded. The prince has stolen his
eyes. Even worse, the prince now has control of a clock that has the
power to control the weather. Petra sets off to Prague, determined to
steal back her father’s eyes. She has help-from her tin pet spider
Astrophil, and from Neel, a Roma boy with fingers that extend into
invisible ghosts that can pick locks. But it will still be a
treacherous journey–and at stake is the fate of all of Europe. Packed
with character, humor and adventure, Cabinet of Wonders is a novel lush
with detail and beauty, a full literary meal that will leave readers
hungry for the next book in the Kronos Chronicles.
–Summary by Nettle

Graveyard Book
written by Neil Gaiman

Bod is not your usual boy. He lives in a graveyard. Having been raised
by the graveyard’s ghosts, Bod has learned a few, shall we say, tricks
of the trade, like walking through walls and fading so that no one sees
him. The Graveyard Book is pure delight from start to finish. To me, the
thing that was most indicative of Gaiman’s mastery was the fact that
this story is unabashedly scary. The world isn’t always sunshine and
playgrounds and Gaiman isn’t afraid to give kids a darker reality. This
book is full of humor, loveable characters, and a top-notch ending for
our brave, orphaned hero.
–Summary by Em of Em’s Bookshelf

written by D. M. Cornish
Penguin USA

The second book in the Monster Blood Tattoo series continues the
adventure of young foundling, Rossamund Bookchild, as he joins the
Lamplighters, a branch of the Emperor’s service sworn to keeping the
lamps lit on all the far-flung, monster-hunted roads of the land. The
stunning imaginative achievement of D.M. Cornish’s world-creation is, to
my mind, unparalleled. He has dreamed the monsters and monster-hunters
of the Half-Continent into being fully fleshed. Rossamund is a character
to love and follow, and the dark secrets and conspiracies that unfold in
this story make a 600-page book a lightning read. I can’t wait to read
it again.
–Summary by Laini Taylor-Di Bartolo

Magic Thief
written by Sarah Prineas

This fast-paced, fun, and engrossing story tells of a young thief who
has survived on the strange streets of Wellmet alone, thanks to his
quick hands and quick wits. But when Conn picks the pocket of the wizard
Nevery, and pulls out the stone that is the locus of Nevery’s magic, his
life changes. As the wizard’s new apprentice, Conn has only thirty days
to find his own locus magicalus, or lose his new status. Much worse is
the fact that someone, or something, is sucking the magic out of
Wellmet, and Conn has to use every bit of his quickness, and every bit
of his new found magic, to defeat the Magic Thief. A great adventure,
with great characters!
–Summary by Charlotte Taylor

written by Ingrid Law
Penguin USA

Mibs Beaumont is anxiously awaiting her 13th birthday because, in her
family, 13th birthdays bring about big changes. The Beaumonts always
get their savvies–their supernatural powers–on their 13th birthdays.
But this year, Mibs’ dad is in the hospital and it looks like her savvy
isn’t coming. Ingrid Law has written a tale that is sure to appeal to
kids of all ages. I loved the idea that all kids have their own savvy,
even if it isn’t as splashy as the ability to move mountains.
–Summary by
Em of Em’s Bookshelf

Young Adult:

written by Eoin Colfer

Conor Broekhart love of flying started when he was born in a falling hot
air balloon at the 1878 Paris World Fair. Conor dreams of inventing the
world’s first airplane, a dream that is interrupted when he is accused and
jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. But Conor’s not about to let the
person truly responsible get away with it. A rousing adventure story
with a sensible hero, with a dash of Jules Verne and The Count of Monte
Cristo, Eoin Colfer’s Airman will satisfy readers young and old alike.
–Summary by A. Feller

Curse Dark as Gold
written by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Charlotte Miller is struggling to keep Stirwaters Mill–the livelihood
for everyone in the town of Shearing–running after her father’s death. But one spate of bad luck after another fouls all her plans and labors,
until she must face the terrible possibility of failure. And that’s
when the mysterious Jack Spinner shows up, with the power to spin straw
into gold and the ability to rescue Charlotte and Shearing from despair.
But at what cost? When Charlotte learns the true price of Jack
Spinner’s aid, she will have to fight to protect her town, her home and
her family. Elizabeth C. Bunce spins a dark gorgeous retelling of
Rumplestiltskin that takes the bones of an old fairy tale and gives them
fresh new life against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution. A
flawed heroine, a genuinely creepy ghost story and a stunningly
beautiful use of language are woven together in the fabric of this book,
and will make A Curse Dark as Gold linger in your mind long after you’ve
turned the last page.
–Summary by Nettle

written by Jenny Davidson

An “alternate-history supernatural mystery” set in 1938 Scotland, the
world of The Explosionist hinges on a crucial incident in history:
suppose Napoleon had won at Waterloo. Jenny Davidson has created a
fascinating tale set in the Europe that grew out of that victory. Young
Sophie and her Danish friend Mikael try to unravel a murder mystery, and
while they’re at it, figure out who’s behind the terrorist bombings in
Edinburgh, which have very high political stakes, not just for Scotland
but the world. All this with the help of the dead and the sort-of dead,
through the respected science of supernatural divination, while the
country ramps up for war. A great, fun read, with a sparkle of romance
and much to discuss.
–Summary by Laini Taylor-Di Bartolo

written by Kristin Cashore

Katsa is a Graceling–a person who has been blessed with a Grace.
However, Katsa isn’t a normal Graceling. Her Grace gives her the power
to kill a man with her bare hands, a power she’s possessed since she was
eight years old. Rather than giving her a life of ease, her Grace means
Katsa is forced to use her powers for a scheming king. When Katsa meets
Po, another Graceling, she doesn’t realize just how much of an influence
Po is about to have on her life. Katsa is a strong heroine, overcomes
her personal struggles with how her powers are used to become as
comfortable with herself as she is with her Grace. With a brisk plot,
plenty of adventure, and a little romance, readers will be rushing to
finish Graceling.
–Summary by A. Feller

Hunger Games, The
written by Suzanne Collins

In Suzanne Collins’ futuristic and controlled society, Katniss Everdeen
passes her days working hard for her family’s survival. When her younger
sister is chosen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to
the death on live television with 23 other teens, Katniss wastes no time
in taking her place, even though she knows it mean near certain death.
The Hunger Games is a novel full of peril, adventure and action, and a
dash of romance, making it highly appealing to teens, but also possesses
a very serious side that is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.
–Summary by The Compulsive Reader

written by Lisa McMann
Simon & Schuster

Since Janie was eight she has been forcibly pulled into others’ dreams.
Now at seventeen, she is tired of being bombarded by her classmates’
anxiety dreams and their sex dreams as they doze in study hall. She
hides her ability carefully until she finds herself attracted to former
bad boy Cabel whose dark nightmares hint at a scarred past and a mystery
she must unravel. The book is told in quick snippets marked with a time
and date making the plot race forward in spurts. Romance and suspense
combine to create a satisfyingly fast-paced read.
–Summary by Amanda
Blau, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

–Tasha Saecker, organizer