2012 Finalists: Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult)

And All the Stars
by Andrea K Höst
Höst, Andrea
Nominated by: Kate M. The apocalypse has come to Australia, and with it come the Spires, a kind of velvety protuberance sprouting up everywhere, gouting fountains of a choking dry dust that leaves humanity changed. But what makes us human is within us–and Madeleine Cost and her friends take a gamble on this truth, and cross the normal boundaries humans put between them. Not just friends, now, but family, this ragtag group of diverse young adults come together with a vow to hold each other up, and resist through to the end of whatever.

Andrea K. Höst has written a solidly plotted post-apocalyptic novel with a superbly diverse cast of characters who come together to create community, save themselves, and maybe, just maybe, save the world.

— Tanita Davis, Finding Wonderland

Every Day
by David Levithan
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Melissa @ Book NutIt’s a new day, which means a new body for A.

Every day, A wakes up in a new body and has to live that life for 24 hours. In the 24 hours, A must try not to screw up the life that has been hijacked by following simple rules: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. But A chucks all the rules aside when he meets Rhiannon. From this moment forward, A enters into a deadly, reckless pursuit–each day in a different body–just to find Rhiannon.

Each of us has been given only one life to live, but A lives 1,000 lives in one lifetime, none of them belonging to him. Every Day by David Levithan is a soaring, unique look at the pursuit of that soul connection we all hope to find just once in the one life that we are given. Moving, thought-provoking, and powerful, Every Day asks us to examine who we are, what we think about the people around us, and what we are willing to do for love. Levithan asks the reader to abandon everything they know about gender and identity by taking us on a challenging reading journey with a character that has neither.

— Karen Jensen, Teen Librarian’s Toolbox

Planesrunner (Everness, Book One)
by Ian McDonald
Nominated by: lwadEverett Singh’s father gifts him with the Infundibulum, the key to an infinite number of other universes. It’s a gift and a curse: Everett’s dad has been kidnapped, and someone’s coming for Everett and the Infundibulum next. On the run in London version E3, he meets Sen, a fearless Airish girl who knows a little something about good fortune. Everett joins the crew of Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth’s airship as much-appreciated cook, where he needs both his culinary skills and his prowess at quantum physics if he wants to survive and hold his family, old and new, together. Author Ian McDonald builds intricate cultures and worlds and weaves in a generous dollop of math and technology as the foundation. Combining complex science and technology, a conspiracy, a hint of romance, and peril on the high clouds, Planesrunner is an imaginative adventure.

— Hallie Tibbetts, Undusty New Books

by Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Ana @ things mean a lotSeraphina is the story of an uneasy alliance between two very different civilizations–dragon and human–and a young music mistress caught in the middle. A newcomer to the court, Seraphina is unexpectedly thrust into the public eye when she has to perform at the funeral of Prince Rufus, who may or may not have been killed by a dragon. Seraphina has secrets of her own, which she has to protect even as she becomes involved in the court intrigue and the increasing tension between dragons and humans on the eve of the anniversary of the treaty between the two races.

Rachel Hartman’s sparkling prose makes good use of figurative and sensory language without bogging down the story in too much detail. The worldbuilding is excellent, and Hartman’s dragons have a richly developed culture that is starkly different; even in human form they are clearly Other. With romance, court intrigue, dragons, and a provocative theme of intolerance, Seraphina is a book that is sure to appeal to teen readers. Even readers who don’t like dragon books may find themselves caught up in this coming-of-age story of a young woman caught between cultures.

— Sheila Ruth, Wands and Worlds

The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories
by Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton,  and Maggie Stiefvater
Carolrhoda Books
Nominated by: Kim BaccelliaThe Merry Sisters of Fate–Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff–weave their magic in this very special anthology that includes unique twists on such premises as vampires to ghost tales. But that’s not what makes this collection stand out. Within this anthology are author notes and comments giving aspiring teen writers a backstage pass to peek inside a writing group, with inspiration and tips for their own writing. The short stories stand up well as stories even without this added bonus. Pure genius.

— Kim Baccellia, Si, se puede

The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown
Nominated by: Rae CarsonIn a war-torn future America, everyone is just trying to stay alive: Tool, a bioengineered half-man fighter; Mahlia, a cast-off refugee; Mouse, the boy who saved her; Ocho, a young man caught up in a soldier boy army. In this companion to Printz winner Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi tells a horrifying, harrowing tale of the lengths each of us will go to for freedom. This tightly plotted, action-packed story follows Mahlia and Mouse on a hunting trip through the jungle, where they come across an injured half-man who is being pursued by the soldiers from whom he recently escaped. Should they help him? Should they leave him? Mahlia makes a choice that sets the story up for a wonderful discussion of what loyalty means, how trust is gained (and lost), and how easy it is to be swept up into the horrors of war.

The Drowned Cities is a complex, well-written novel about survival. The characters are flawed, the violence is real, and the story is packed with perilous situations that will appeal to any reader who enjoys adventure.

— Flannery Carlos, The Readventurer

by Sarah Beth Durst
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Miss PrintLiyana’s life has been on hold since she was younger while she awaits the day a goddess will inhabit her body and Liyana will die. When Liyana performs the ceremony to call the goddess, however, the goddess doesn’t come. Liyana is banished from her tribe and takes up traveling with Korbyn, a god inhabiting a boy. Korbyn says the gods and goddesses of the desert tribes have been imprisoned somewhere, and Liyana must help save them and the desert tribes’ way of life.

Vessel is a thoroughly engrossing book. The amazing worldbuilding of the desert tribes and their pantheon and magic is original and inspiring. The great character development sucks you into the troubles of Liyana, the drive of Korbyn, and exactly why someone would sacrifice his or her life for a god or goddess. Asking hard questions about what is an individual and where the line is between the preservation of life and the sacrifice of one for the good of the many, this book will keep you guessing and reading until the last page.

— Aurora Celeste, Young Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog