Today is day three of our Class of 2011: YA SuperlativeBlogfest. If you’re just joining now, the idea is simple. We’re picking our favorite books published in 2011 from a list of categories. (Check out my picks for days one and two.)
Today we’re looking at elements of fiction. Or, as I like to think of it, Things Other Authors Did That You’d Like to Steal. (Not that I would ever steal. Especially not from an author. Sheesh, what do you take me for?)
So here are my picks…
Most Envy-Inducing Plot
Oh look: It’s a tie. I’m most jealous of The Scorpio Races’ plot, which is unlike anything I’ve read before. To write a book that still manages to feel original and defy genre classification is kind of a big deal.
I’d also love to have thought of The Unbecoming of MaraDyer. True, there’s a certain part I’d totally change, but the psychological thriller aspect is really well done.
Most Wonderful World-Building
This wasn’t an easy one since plenty of authors so wonderfully built a world that came to life. But Lani Taylor didn’t just create a living, breathing Prague in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Every other place the main character, Karou, travels springs to life, whether it’s the markets in Marrakesh or the demon realm.
Also a masterpiece: The world-building in The Scorpio Races. Stiefvater does an amazing job of bringing the island of Thisby to life. In fact, the entire time I was reading the book I could almost feel the wind and salt water, smell the sea and horses, and taste the November cakes.
Most Formidable World
As much as I’d love to live through Shatter Me in order to meet Adam (swoon) I’ll pass on the jail cell that makes up the setting for the first part of this book. I’d also skip the war-torn world outside the cell.
Yes, the island of Thisby in The Scorpio Races is home to dangerous killer water horses for a good portion of the year. But the island seems so magical and gorgeous that I’d skip the beaches in order to see the land.
I feel like I’m using the same books over and over again, but the fact is, a great book usually excels at more than one thing. Which is why I’m listing both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Chime here. For your literary pleasure, a sample from each:
“Loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve—like the soul’s version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.”
—Daughter of Smoke and Bone
“Father’s silence is not merely the absence of sound. It’s a creature with a life of its own. It chokes you. It pinches you small as a grain of rice. It twists in your gut like a worm.”
Best First Line
Tell me this doesn’t make you want to read Chime: “I’ve confessed to everything and I’d like to be hanged. Now, if you please.”
Most Dynamic Main Character
Yes, I AM MENTIONING CHIME AGAIN. Three in a row. That’s saying something. (And that something is: I love this book.) What I loved so much about this book is that all of the characters are so well rounded, not just Briony, who wins for Most Dynamic Main Character. Since it seems to be Quote from Chime Day, I’ll leave you with one that shows not only Briony’s personality but her sister’s, too.
“I don’t like my shoes,” said Rose.
“I’m wearing my shoes and you don’t see me complain.”
“You only hear a person complain,” said Rose. “Not see.”
How has Rose lived for seventeen years and no one has killed her, not once?
Most Jaw-Dropping Finale
One of my favorite things is when a book’s ending is consistent with the story. And the dystopian novel Possession is a great example of that. I went into this book thinking it would end a certain way—a way most dystopians would have ended—but I was pleasantly surprised to find out where Elana Johnson took this.
Best Performance in a Supporting Role
The side character Otto in this sci-fi retelling of Sleeping Beauty is one of the most interesting I read all year. He’s genetically engineered and looks more like an alien than a human. (That’s right, he’s blue.) He can’t speak, but communicates telepathically or via a futuristic form of IM. His character is both heartbreaking and lovely.
Best Use of Theme
Oh look, another tie. And, oh look, it’s between Daughter of Smoke and Bone (for themes of love, sacrifice, and good and evil) and The Scorpio Races (for the themes of family and love) again. Can you tell I enjoyed them?
I’m interested: What books would you list for the above categories? Leave ’em in the comments. Or, if you’re playing along, leave a link to your post below.
Coming tomorrow: Best in Show, including Favorite Cover, Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath, Breakout Novel, and Sleeper Hit.