Friday, December 13, 2013
Cia is now a freshman at the university, having successfully passed the Testing, but she remembers nothing of it, at least initially. That means she remembers nothing of what she had to do to pass, and nothing of what her classmates did to each other, either. But she is not home-free yet. She still has rigorous classes which come with their own more standard tests, plus a series of more creative tests that will gauge her creativity, smarts, and ability to work with others. And then she's assigned to the independent study of the title, which comes with its own surprises and challenges.
Meanwhile, Cia also has the nagging fear that not all is what it seems, and she slowly begins to take notice of an undercurrent of resistance - and it's pulling her in.
While the first book was an edge-of-my-seat thriller, the sequel is more of a puzzle book. The stakes are still high, but Charbonneau focuses on a series of smaller puzzles rather than a large-scale survival trial. The puzzles are clever, too, both in the way they're set up by the puzzle-makers and the way they're solved by Cia and her comrades. Reading about these things is incredibly fun - I found myself thinking "oh, how cool (and also awful)!" several times. This series is full of terrible things happening to children, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me miss school a little bit. (Honestly, I could have just as easily said "High school is full of terrible things happening to children" and it would be just as accurate.)
There's a whole heck of a lot of dramatic irony in this volume, as Cia and her cohorts' memories have been wiped, but the readers' have not (obviously). We know all about the betrayals that went down in the first volume, so for a good portion of this sequel, I was holding my breath, just waiting for other similar betrayals to happen here. I was glad that Charbonneau didn't give me exactly what I was expecting.
For all its positives, Independent Study requires a bit more suspension of disbelief than its predecessor. For example, instead of a recorder in the students' ID bracelets (as in the first volume), the adults in charge of their education/tests opted for a simple tracker. This allows Cia and some other students to talk freely, which is necessary to the plot. The problem is it makes no sense for those in power to decide they only need to track the students' movements and not their conversations. It's such a blatant plot contrivance and it bothered me.
Independent Study wraps up the main plot points introduced in the book, but it does end on a cliffhanger, as many second volumes do. If this bothers you, I advise you to wait until the third and final volume, Graduation Day, is published in the summer.
Review copy received from the publisher. Independent Study will be available January 7.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
On Tuesday and yesterday, I looked at the data about this year's "best of" lists, as tallied from School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal's "Best YA for Adults." I used almost the exact same metrics as I did in 2012, adjusting a bit for new categories and removing a couple I didn't necessarily find that interesting or have enough data to pull together into anything worth looking at.
Because I used the same tally sheet and looked at so many of the same factors, I thought it would be worthwhile to compare what the "best of" lists in 2012 looked like against this year's "best of" lists. Were there any notable differences between the two years? Were there more books considered "best" one year than the other? Was there a big difference in gender representation? What about other factors? If "best of" lists give a snapshot of a year in YA, then what will comparing two consecutive years say about preferences in "best" books? Again, this is all data and nothing conclusive can be said about it, but it is interesting to look and speculate.
In both 2012 and 2013, I used the same criteria to define a YA book. I didn't look at non-fiction, and I didn't include graphic novels in the final results. In both years, I also took Amazon's age rating of the book being for those 12 and older as a standard for "YA fiction."
Range and Spread of Titles Selected
The first thing that caught my attention when looking at the 2013 data was that it seemed like there were far fewer books being labeled "best of" than there were in 2012. Turns out, my suspicions were correct.
Note that this bar chart begins at 50 and Google won't let me change it to begin at 0. But it shouldn't matter, as it's pretty clear there's a difference in titles selected: last year, there were 89 unique titles on the "best of" lists. This year, there were only 55.
I decided to look at each publication and compare their number of unique choices last year against this year. Every publication selected more YA fiction last year than they did this year, except for Publishers Weekly, which picked 16 titles this year and only 11 last year. There's a big difference in Kirkus's number of choices, where they had selected 82 last year and 42 this year. Repeated titles were included here, as long as it was a unique journal which selected it (in other words, every instance of Far, Far Away counted as an individual title, as long as it was a different journal that picked it).
Even accounting for the non-fiction and graphic novel selections -- which were minimal this year, as well -- there were definitely fewer books selected as "best of" this year.
Does the fewer number of titles being selected as "best of" suggest that maybe this was a weaker year for YA fiction? Or if that's not the case, did fewer books stand out and resonate this year among editors tasked with selecting the bests? Most "best of" lists are decided by vote and by the editors of the journals, and I wonder if there's any correlation between the number of "best of" titles selected and the number of starred reviews earned this year. In other words, did fewer books earn starred reviews in 2013 than in 2012?
Even with Kirkus's more esoteric selections, as discussed yesterday, there seem to be surprisingly few bests this year. Is this a trend we're going to continue to see in the coming years or will 2013 be sort of an outlier?
Author Gender and "Best of" Lists
I didn't keep track of the gender of the main characters in 2012 the way I did in 2013 (part of it having to do with having way more books on the 2012 list), but I did look at the gender of the authors on both sets of lists. For 2012, there were a total of 90 authors and in 2013, there were a total of 55.
There were 72 females and 18 males.
There were 41 females and 14 males.
As can be seen, there was a smaller percentage of female authors in 2013 than there were comparatively in 2012. Eighty percent of the authors in 2012 were female, whereas about 75% were female in 2013.
Although there aren't hard numbers to represent all of the YA books published as categorized by author gender in these years, it does make me wonder a little bit if there were fewer female authors in 2013. Or were there fewer female-written books that stood out as "best?" It's a small percentage drop, of course, but it's an interesting trend, especially when taken in light of the data about the New York Times gender split for their YA list.
Debut Novelists on the "Best of" Lists
Did debut novelists do better in 2012 than they did in 2013 when it comes to being on the "best of" lists? Let's take a look.
There were a total of 18 debut novelists in 2012, which came to 20% of the total number of authors on the "best of" list.
Compare to 2013:
Genre Representation in "Best of" Lists
I mentioned that this year, there was a rise in realistic fiction in frequency of appearance on the "best of" lists. I thought it was notable, as the last couple of years have mentioned that realistic fiction would become "the next big thing," and the "best of" lists at least suggested that realistic fiction caught more critical attention this year.
But was there a rise in realistic fiction this year as compared to last year? And if so, what was in abundance last year that maybe didn't show itself as popular among the "best of" lists this year?
Here's the 2012 breakdown:
Realistic fiction's presence on the "best of" lists definitely increased, even if the mystery/thriller category is rolled into realistic fiction for 2012's counts. This year, realistic fiction was nearly 44% of the "best of" lists.
Best of by List Frequency
With the fact there were fewer books on this year's "best of" list than in 2012, as well as a shift a bit in terms of genre representation, I thought it would also be worth looking at the frequency of titles appearing across multiple lists. There were 5 lists total, and I was curious whether more books would appear more frequently on lists in 2012 or in 2013.
In 2012, here's what the frequency of books on the "best of" books looked like:
Compare to 2013:
As mentioned in a previous data post, there were no books this year that ended up on all five of the "best of" lists (except for Boxers and Saints, which was not included in any of the data because I didn't include it in YA fiction but considered it a graphic novel instead).
So What Does This All Mean?
In the big context of "best of" lists and accolades at the end of any given year in YA fiction, the data doesn't really say a whole lot. It does, however, give us a picture of what a year in YA looks like. This year, it appears we have fewer female authors penning books considered "best of" (though it's still a larger percentage than male authors), and we have many more realistic fiction filling out the lists than other genres.
We have fewer books earning multiple spots on "best of" lists, but with fewer books overall, what does that say? Again, the question I keep circling back to and have from the beginning of looking at this data is how much one list impacts another list and how much marketing may influence these things.
This year felt like a noteworthy one when it came to books being sold to readers and sold to readers in a very big way. There appeared to be a lot more money spent on a lot fewer titles, and I wonder how much of that reflects in these "best of" lists. The more a book is sold as a great book, how much more likely are we to believe that?
Even the most objective readers can't avoid hearing and seeing the buzz about certain books. I'm not suggesting that editorial boards choosing their "best of" are swayed by this kind of marketing, but rather, this kind of marketing really did stick out this year more than other years. Which then leads me to another set of questions that seem to be the ones authors and creative types deal with themselves: do these "best of" list creators stick to their purely objective "best of" picks or do they feel at times pressured to bend to what the popular opinion of the "best of" books might be?
The most popular book this year among the "Best of" selections this year was Rowell's Eleanor & Park. It was a good book.
But this was also a book that received spectacular marketing and publicity. It got a review in the New York Times by John Green, along with five starred reviews. That wasn't lost on the book's marketing, either -- how many places was the book heralded as one that John Green himself loved and that other readers would, too? It was SMART. It helped a new YA author, who had only published one book into the adult market prior, gain immense traction and attention very quickly (it didn't hurt the attention Rowell's second book out this year received, either, as we were reminded that Green loved her first book in the marketing there, too). Readers have fallen in love with Eleanor & Park over and over, and it showed up on nearly every list this year where adult readers were told it's okay to read YA because of books like that.
Was it this year's "best" book? Would this book be seen as this good were it not for all of the marketing behind it? What about without all of the adult praise it earned (you know, it's a "YA book that is okay for grown ups to read")? This book was impossible to avoid, whether you were a YA reader or you weren't a YA reader.
It's hard not to think about the other books that came out this year that were as good as Rowell's. But what were they? Are they some of those books Kirkus called out that, yesterday, I questioned as to why they were on the list in the first place? Have I become accustomed to thinking that outliers on these lists indicate a poor choice? Or is Kirkus on to something I'm unaware of because those books have yet to be sold and marketed to me as a reader (or more accurately, as a librarian who buys these books and then sells them to teen readers)?
The smaller the field of "bests," the more I wonder what was overlooked simply because a few big titles had so much weight behind them.
Of course I have no answers. I just have a lot more questions, and they're the kinds of questions I like to end a year with because they make me reevaluate my own reading, my own means of book recommendation, and my own personal "favorite" or "best of" lists. How much farther out do I want to reach to find hidden gems? How many of the big books should I make sure I do read because maybe I am missing something big there, too?
As of this writing, I haven't yet seen the Booklist nor the BCCB "best of" lists, and I'm curious how those will stack up against these lists. Likewise, what will YALSA committees select as best books with their Printz this year, their Quick Picks, or their Best Fiction for Young Adults?
I'd love thoughts and ideas regarding this year's best of picks, especially as they compare to last year's. Any thoughts? Do you have any books you wish had seen time on the "best of" lists that didn't show up? What about books that appeared on the list that make you scratch your head a bit?
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
This is part two of this year's "best of YA" list breakdown. Make sure you read yesterday's post, or at least the introduction of it, to understand why and how this works. To summarize the key points and to make sense of today's data, I'll repeat some of the important details: none of the data presented here is meant to "prove" anything. It's presented in order to offer some discussion points, to explore trends and themes within the books deemed as the "best" of this year's YA fiction, and any errors in data tabulation are mine and mine alone (and hopefully, there are few, if none!).
- Seven books earned 5 starred reviews
- Four Books earned 4 starred reviews
- Thirteen books earned 3 starred reviews
- Fourteen books earned 2 starred reviews
- Sixteen books earned 1 starred review
|List Appearances vs. Star Earnings||5 lists||4 lists||3 lists||2 lists||1 list|
Eleanor & Park, the book with the most placements on the "best of" lists this year, earned five starred reviews.
- two prequels
- one companion
- six were the first in a series
- three were the second book in a series
- two that were third books.
There's nothing that can be said conclusively, of course. But what makes "best of" lists interesting to look at as data, rather than as something more subjective, is that it lets you consider the year in a snapshot. This might have been a weaker YA year. It may have been the year that male main characters were stronger than female. It may have continued a trend of featuring a small number of LGBTQ characters. It's also interesting to consider what this "best of" snapshot will indicate in the future, too. Will we have more books of a certain ilk because they're more likely to perform better?
Stick around for tomorrow's thoughts and comparisons between this year's list and last year's. Although again it won't make any hard conclusions, it can shed some insight into some of these questions.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Welcome to the third annual "Best of YA" list break down. Since 2011, I've gone through the "best of" lists developed by the biggest trade review journals and pulled together some statistics about those books. Which ones have repeat appearances? Is there a gender representation difference in the books deemed the best? What do we see in terms of POC, LGBTQ representation, and lots more.
This year, I wanted to look at a number of factors like I did last year, and it requires more than one post to do so. Because I still had all of my data from last year pulled into a single space (I did not in 2011, where all of my information was posted in another forum), I've written third post as well, comparing the data from last year against this year's. They will publish today, tomorrow, and on Thursday.
The "best of" lists I looked at this year are the same ones I analyzed last year: School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Horn Book, and the Library Journal list of Best YA for Adults. I like to look at that last one, the YA for Adults, because I think it's worth keeping an eye on and comparing with the lists that are geared less toward adults -- are there crossover titles? Are there different titles completely? It adds another flavor to the data.
Because they come out a little bit later, I have not looked at the best of lists from Booklist nor BCCB, though it's possible I may look at them comparatively in the new year (BCCB's list comes out in January and Booklist's should be out this week, either prior to this post or after it). I limited what I looked at to YA fiction only. This means no graphic novels (though if you're curious, the graphic novels which made this combination of lists include Boxers and Saints, on all five of the lists; Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant on two of the lists; Will & Whit on one of the lists; Romeo & Juliet on one of the lists; and March on one of the lists) and I did not include non-fiction titles (of which there were very few).
I made my determination on whether a book was a YA book or not based on the criteria that Amazon listed it as a book for those age 12 and older. This meant some books which have been debated as being "for YA readers or not," like Tom McNeal's Far, Far Away, were indeed included in my count. I did not include illustrators for books that feature graphic or illustrative elements in my author counts or breakdowns.
Though more relevant to tomorrow's post than today's, I pulled my information about starred reviews from ShelfTalker's last updated "The Stars So Far" post; since this was last updated in mid-November, it's possible some of these titles may have earned additional stars since then. Information about LGBTQ representation in these books was pulled from Malinda Lo's tallying, along with notes I've made to myself on the books I have read.
Before diving in, some caveats: none of this data means anything. I'm not trying to draw conclusions nor suggest certain things about the books that popped up on the "best of" lists. Errors here in terms of counts, in my decision to list a book as featuring a POC, in my tallying of MCs by gender, and so forth, are all my own. I have not read all of these books, so sometimes, I had to make an educated guess based on reviews I read. Tomorrow, I'll link to all of my raw data in the introduction.
There were a total of 55 books on these lists, 55 authors, and a total of 62 main characters, as some books were told through more than one point of view.
With that, let's see what there is to see in this year's "Best of YA" lists.
Gender Representation in the "Best of" Lists
First, let's look at gender and the "best of" lists. Do we have more male authors represented or do we have more female authors?
There were a total of 55 authors represented on all of the "best of lists," with 14 being male and 41 being female. In other words, roughly three-quarters of the authors this year were female, while one-quarter were male. This is a really interesting breakdown, considering that the breakdown by author gender on the New York Times Lists (in this post and this post) showed something different.
One of the comments I received on my New York Times post breakdowns was that it would be interesting to look at the main character genders in the books listed. Since I didn't look at that element in those posts, I thought I'd give it a shot with the "best of" lists this year.
As noted, there are more main characters than there are authors, so this is out of a total of 62 characters. Again, not having read all of the books, this is based on my best guesses having read through many reviews of the titles listed. I counted main characters as those who have a voice in the story. I did not include the Marcus Sedgwick book, since it is a collection of short stories and not having read it, making a call was impossible.
There are a couple of questions to think about with this: Did we have much better male-led stories this year? Or do we tend to take male-led stories as "better" than those led by female? This is a question I've been thinking about a lot, as it's something impossible not to think about. Female-led stories tend to have more romance in them, and it's possible we have a bias against romance. Worthwhile readings on this topic are this post and this post over at Crossreferencing.
Again, I'm making no conclusions here, but I think these are questions worth thinking about. It does make me want to revisit my NYT analysis now and look at the gender of the main character, especially as some people took problem with the fact there was more male representation when it came to author appearance on the list. I have a suspicion that looking at the gender of the main characters of those books wouldn't actually change my findings very much.
Debut Authors vs. More Seasoned Authors
What kind of break down is there between new authors and those who are on their second, fifth, or twentieth book? Are there more books by authors who've done their time on the "best of" lists or more by debut authors?
I am a purist when defining "debut." These are first books. They are not first YA books. I did not hold published short stories or poems against debut status, as long as the book on the "best of" list was the author's first novel. In other words, Alaya Dawn Johnson is not a debut author, despite The Summer Prince being her first YA book.
What about gender of the debut author?
Continuing to talk a bit about the debut novelists who made the list, how do the Morris Shortlist authors compare? Of the five books on the Morris list, three of those books saw themselves on any of the five "best of" lists: Carrie Mesrobian's Sex & Violence, which made both Kirkus and PW's "best of" list, In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters made SLJ's list, and Evan Roskos's Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, which made the Kirkus list. That's more than half.
"Best Of" by Genre
It's tough to decide what book belongs in what genre. There are some which could go more than one way (especially when it comes to historical and fantasy, as some could go either way easily). Again, since I haven't read all of the books on this list, I had to pull some of my decisions from reviews, as well as from talking with those who have read the book. In short: decisions are subjective, but they're based on research.
I broke down my categories as broadly as possible. Thus, "realistic" is a category and not contemporary, for the sake of putting books like Eleanor & Park into what might be the best place for it to fit. I considered Far, Far Away to be fantasy, rather than paranormal, as I determined paranormal a category best suited for a story featuring a creature, rather than a spirit. I know it's a bit arbitrary.
Did one genre do better than another this year when it came to best of lists? Let's take a look.
Turns out that realistic fiction led other genres in "best of" lists this year. Out of a total of 55 books, 24 were realistic fiction. Historical had 13, with fantasy 10, science fiction 5, paranormal 2, and short stories 1.
Perhaps there's something to the suggestion there has been a growth in realistic fiction this year. This is something I may try to tackle in a series of posts next week about trends in 2014 fiction because I think it's better said there might be a rise in a certain type of realistic fiction coming up.
Books by "Best of" List Frequency
How many books saw themselves on more than one "best of" list this year? Even though the staff of the journals choose their titles by vote (usually), it's always curious to be to see what trends emerge in titles that appear more than once. Do those very early lists like School Library Journal's in November influence those which appear later? Or more realistically, do awards like the National Book Award or the Horn Book/Boston Globe Book Award put titles onto radars as possible "best of" picks? What influences what, if anything?
It's worth noting here -- and I'll repeat it again in the next posts -- that the journals each choose a different number of "best of" titles. And with my criteria listed in the beginning of this post to define "YA Fiction," the number of titles eligible shifted, too. Kirkus had 42 titles, School Library Journal had 13, LJ's "YA for Adults" had 3, Horn Book had 5, and Publishers Weekly had 16. Again, I'll come back to these totals in future posts.
There were five books which appeared on three lists, eleven books which appeared on two lists, and a total of thirty-eight books which appeared on one list.
The bulk of this year's "best of" titles only showed up on one list.
"Best of" Titles by Book Format
This year seemed to be the year of novels with a twist to their format, and I think that some of the data on the "best of" list reflects that. Though this, too, is interesting to compare to last year's list. Were there any verse novels this year? What about books told with a graphic-hybridization? What about sketches or illustrations that weren't quite at graphic novel style or what about those mixed media projects?
It's not surprising that standard novels made up the majority of format for storytelling. Forty-nine of the books on this list were your average novel (which isn't a means of degrading novels as "average," but rather suggesting they aren't doing anything noteworthy in format). There were three novels this year that included some kind of illustrative element to them that stood out, including Maggot Moon, Winger, and The War Within These Walls. There was on graphic novel hybrid with Chasing Shadows, one mixed media novel with In The Shadow of Blackbirds, and one short story collection, Midwinterblood.
There were no novels in verse represented this year.
Diversity and "Best Of" Lists
Two topics I wanted to look at within the "best of" lists included representation of LGBTQ and POC. Again, standard disclaimers that I haven't read all of these books, and I pulled data from my own research (as well as the linked-to blog post above from Malinda Lo).
First, let's talk about LGBTQ and the "best of" lists. How many stories featured characters whose sexuality was discussed or a major part of the book? I'm looking strictly at the books and stories, rather than authors, because it's challenging to make that determination and, I think, unfair to make it, too.
Five Books featured characters who identified as LGBTQ. These books were:
- More Than This by Patrick Ness
- The Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. Bick
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
- Winger by Andrew Smith (minor character)
- Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry
What about books written by or featuring people of color? This one is easier to make a determination of when it comes to author, so I'm breaking this town into two data sets: by author and by character in a book. Remember there are 55 authors and 62 main characters represented.
Authors who are POC on the "Best of" lists: 8. I did include Myers twice in the count, since he had two different books on the list.
Main characters who are POC on the "Best of" lists: 10, with one story featuring a secondary character who is a POC.
Those authors and books (some of which are written by a POC about a POC) are:
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry
- Invasion by Walter Dean Myers
- Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
- Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frencie Garcia by Jenny Torres-Sanchez
- Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers
- Champion by Marie Lu
- The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- The Counterfeit Family of Vee Crawford-Wong by L Tam Howard
- A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
- Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi
- Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Country of Origin and "Best of" Lists
I wanted to round up today's post and data by looking at something I did not look at last year, which is the country of origin of the author. Do authors who aren't from the US fair well on our "best of" lists? Do they tend to do better than US authors?
I've got three categories for this data: US born and still living in the US; foreign born and foreign living; and I have a small number of US ex-pats. Here's the breakdown:
Editing to add that Malinda Lo has some really great observation and commentary about LGBTQ as represented on this year's "Best of" lists. Go check it out.
Monday, December 9, 2013
23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next.
There's more to it than this, of course. Those strange children-now-adults have dubbed themselves the freakangels, and they've settled in a flooded part of London called Whitechapel. Most of them are usually focused on protecting the survivors in Whitechapel - I say "most" and "usually" because they're not always united in their goal. Complicating things is the fact that they had something to do with the cataclysm. Exactly what they did is revealed slowly, over the course of the story.
The main cast is huge, since Ellis and Duffield focus on each of the 12 freakangels at some point in the story. It's quite a feat that each is distinct, then, and doesn't become a caricature. None of them are your typical superheroes, though some of them are trying. I wouldn't even say any of them are the Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man-type superheroes: flawed, tortured, but still larger-than-life. Rather, these people seem very much "same size as life," if you can say such a thing - they don't have the witty comebacks all the time, they can be hurt (and not just in the final showdown), they deliberately make bad choices along with good ones, over and over. The knowledge that they're somehow the cause of the suffering around them adds an important layer - and the way each freakangel deals with this knowledge is telling, too. The characters are just plain interesting, with complex relationships and personalities.
Part of what makes the series so good is the art by Duffield. I find that characters in a lot of comics - particularly those that have been ongoing for many years - blend together, even within single volumes. It forces the reader to rely on clothing choices or hairstyles to keep them straight. That's not the case with Duffield's illustrations, which are not only lovely, but also detail-rich and consistent from panel to panel. His characters are easily recognizable and diverse in appearance as well as personality. I also love the slightly muted color palette, which fits the mood of the story perfectly.
This is an adult comic with adult themes and language (frank talk of sex and lots of f-bombs), but I can certainly see it appealing to more mature teens. It feels like what a lot of the popular teen post-apocalyptic stories would be if the characters were 23 instead of 17. In fact, it could be described as an adult sequel to the YA story of what these people did as 17-year-olds. Because it's a full story contained in six easy-to-digest volumes, it's also a great series to hand to someone who may just be dipping their toes into comics. (No decades of background knowledge necessary!)
Freakangels is available in six print volumes, but it actually first appeared completely free and legal on the web: www.freakangels.com.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Since both November and December are quieter months when it comes to debut novels this year, rather than having two separate posts, I'd combine the two. This will be the last roundup of debut novels out in 2013, but you can catch up on previous posts by checking out October's debut post and working backwards from there.
Did you see this week's announcement of the YALSA Morris contenders? Check out the 5 books honored on the short list. This is probably my favorite of the awards lists, as it rewards not just a well-done debut novel, but it looks at both appeal to readers and the potential for that author to continue producing excellent work in the future.
As usual, if I've missed a traditionally-published debut novel that came out in November or will be coming out this month, let me know in the comments. All descriptions are from WorldCat, unless otherwise noted.
After Eden by Helen Douglas: Eden, sixteen, must choose between helping Ryan, a time-traveler, and her best friend Connor who, according to Ryan, is about to become famous through a significant scientific discovery that will, ultimately ruin the world.
Cracked by Eliza Crewe: Meet Meda. She eats people. Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she can't help being a bad guy. She knows she's different and the only other person who could have told her about other "soul-eaters" is now dead. That is, until the three men in suits show up. They can do what she can do. They're like her. Meda might finally be able to figure out what she is and why the Hunger with her for souls is growing. The problem? They want to kill her.
Control by Lydia Kang: In 2150, when genetic manipulation has been outlawed, seventeen-year-old Zelia must rescue her kidnapped sister with the help of a band of outcasts with mutated genes.
These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: Two star-crossed lovers must fight for survival when they crash land on a seemingly uninhabited planet. Note that Kaufman is the debut author with this book, but Spooner debuted in August 2012 with Skylark.
Have you had any favorite debut novels this year? I'd love to know what you dug in the comments and what you're looking forward to in 2014.