2009 Finalists: Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

by Pam Bachorz
Egmont USA
Nominated by: Chelsea Campbell

Oscar Banks has fooled the town of Candor, Florida, into thinking he’s the
perfect son.  Even his father, the town’s founder, believes that the
subliminal messages he invented and that are carried by ever-present
music, have brainwashed Oscar into becoming one more “good kid” among
many. Oscar, though, knows about the messages and has trained himself
to resist.

First-time author Pam Bachorz has created a book that
perfectly snares what every teen both fears — to lose his/her identity
and be part of the bland crowd.  Oscar may be selfish, but his
motivations are sincere and natural based on the tragedies that have
happened to his family.  Good science-fiction for young adults is
scarce–SF is more than spaceships and lasers, it is how technology
could be used to help or harm humanity–and Barchorz’s book will
linger long in the minds of readers.  They’ll wonder what they would
do if they ever found themselves in Candor.
Steve Berman

Demon’s Lexicon, The
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Nick Jessee

Brothers Nick and Alan have been living on the run for years, hunted
by magicians trying to take back their mother.  But while the brothers’
relationship is front and center, the story truly belongs to Nick, the
ultimate bad boy barely managed his whole life by his nicer brother.
Nick should be unsympathetic, but instead Sarah Rees Brennan manages
to make his lack of self-awareness achingly riveting.  And in doing so
she gives us one of the most memorable, fully realized characters in YA
contemporary fantasy–and then she surrounds him with a slew of other
memorable characters in an equally intriguing and unforgettable world.
The jury simply couldn’t put this book down, not until we reached its
satisfying and surprising ending.  A thrilling read–this debut novel
goes off like fireworks.
Gwenda Bond

Dust of 100 Dogs, The
by A.S. King
Nominated by: Lisa McMann

It’s starts with the death of Emer Morrisey, famed female pirate, who is
cursed to live the life of 100 dogs.  When Emer is reborn as Saffron
Adams, completely aware of her past lives, all Saffron can think is how
fast she can get to Jamaica to rightfully reclaim her buried treasure.
Dust is a novel that interweaves not one but three storylines that work
to create one amazing story.  King’s ability
to tell a story in three distinctive and controversial voices is what
truly makes Dust a novel that will push the boundaries of what YA
fiction can accomplish.
Samantha Wheat

by Kristin Cashore
Nominated by: Jenny Moss

Fire is a human monster and the last of her kind. With the ability to
control the minds of those around them, monsters inspire an
uncomfortable (at times deadly) mixture of fear, hatred, and absolute
longing in the people of the Dells. When her service is requested on
behalf of the young King Nash, Fire is thrust into a mounting war and
forced to reconcile her questionable abilities with her own demanding
conscience.  A first-rate high fantasy, Fire is at once subtle,
thoughtful and throbbing with genuine emotion.  The novel is peopled
with a breathtakingly real cast of characters who wrestle with the
thorny issues of gender, power, race, friendship, violence and
family.  Kristin Cashore’s gorgeous, understated writing weaves a
complex, vivid world around them and the reader, making Fire an
intensely gripping and nuanced read and one of the year’s finest.
Angie Thompson

Lips Touch
by Laini Taylor
Arthur A Levine
Nominated by: Jolie Stekly

In Lips Touch, Laini Taylor takes on that most daunting of tasks
reinventing the fairy tale–and succeeds brilliantly. Each story feels
like a fresh new tale, and yet still holds the timeless haunting
enchantment and wonder of all the best fairy tales.  Every story is a
self-contained gem, and centers around the danger, power and wonder of
that most magical moment–the kiss.  These stories are complemented by
Jim Di Bartolo’s luminous art, adding another vivid dimension to the
magic of the book.  In Goblin Fruit, Kizzy is so consumed by longing
that she is drawn into a kiss whose price may be more than she can
afford to pay.  In Spicy Little Curses Such as These, Anamique, cursed
at birth to kill with the sound of her voice, must decide if love is
worth risking everything for.  And in Hatchling, Esme learns the
shocking secret of her mother’s past and her own true identity.
Taylor’s language is beautiful, lush and rich, and demands to be read
slowly so that every word can be savored.  Lips Touch is like goblin
fruit, tantalizing and delicious, each taste leaving the reader
desperately hungry for more.

Sacred Scars (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 2)
by Kathleen Duey
Nominated by: Jenn R

As with its predecessor, Skin Hunger, Sacred Scars tells two stories,
separated by many years and yet linked together.  The story of the
founding of the Limori Academy of magic–and a tragic yet resilient
young woman named Sadima–connects in surprising ways with the
parallel story of Hahp and his fellow students at the Academy
generations later.  The attention to detail is amazing, and the
characters real and poignant.  Sacred Scars is deep, dark and intense,
and immersive in a way that lingers in the mind long after turning the
final page.
Sheila Ruth

Tiger Moon
by Antonia Michaelis
Nominated by: Carolyn Dooman

Set in the 1900’s, Tiger Moon is a lyrical South Asian fairytale which
invites readers to a front row seat with a masterful storyteller.
Colonial history, Hindu religion and mythology all play their part in
this sweeping tale narrated by Raka, a new bride who is waiting for
her execution at the hands of her husband.  Like the Arabian Nights
tales, Raka’s sweeping epic is told to pass the time, and includes
elements of the fantastic and the realistic, relying on a talking
tiger, a 16-year-old thief “with a conscience” and the kidnapped
daughter of the god, Krishna, to explore themes of fate, change and
free will.  Translated from German, and described as both “playful” and “magical” by our panelists, Tiger Moon offers readers a chance to
indulge in the richness of a different culture and go beyond the
boundaries of the ordinary.
Tanita S. Davis