2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults

2011 marks the first Best Fiction for Young Adults list from YALSA.

BFYA is a restructuring of BBYA, removing from the list all nonfiction, graphic novels, and adult books. Readers looking for “best” titles in those areas can go to the final nominations list for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young People, the Best Graphic Novels for Teens list, and the Alex Award and vetted nominated list for the Alex Award. (The criteria isn’t exactly the same for each of these lists and awards, but I’ll save that comparison and analysis for someone else to do.)

The BFYA list represents “significant fiction books . . . published for young adults.” The calendar year is from September 1 of the prior year to December 31 of the current year, creating an overlap of time that allows books published later in the year but not available to read a chance. Of course, double dipping isn’t allowed.

If I read that (and the final nomination list) correctly, that means both Zombies v Unicorns, edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier (pub date September 2010) and Bartimeaus: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud (pub date November 2010) are both still contenders for the 2012 BFYA list. If I’m wrong, please correct me & I’ll edit this to reflect what is accurate. I’m also assuming anthologies of fiction short stories are BFYA eligible, even though it’s my understanding that historically short story anthologies, while BBYA eligible, haven’t made the BBYA list.

EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to Summer Hayes’s comment, I went through the 1996 to 2010 BBYA lists. I only looked at fiction titles & counted items based on titles or indication of an editor. So, historically speaking, in two years (1998 and 2002) there were three fiction anthologies / short story collection in BBYA; in two years (2003 and 2007), two anthologies; in seven years (1996, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008) one title; and four years where there were none (1997, 2001, 2009, and 2010).

One of my personal favorites, All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab, didn’t make the final list. I am crushed by this. It is a wonderful book, beautifully written, a great murder mystery, and please, please, read it. (Here’s my review to further convince you.)

On the plus side, another of my personal favorites, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, not only is on the BFYA list, it’s a top ten! A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner is also on the BFYA list and I’m so pleased that it didn’t fall to the genre series curse, also known as the infamous “does it stand alone” debate.

Under “surprises” are books that got a lot of buzz but are not here: You by Charles Benoit, or other awards and not here: The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston (the winner of the Morris Award), Hush by Eishes Chayil (Morris Award Honor book). Chayil’s Hush was not on the nominations, and it has a September publication date, so maybe this may be on next year’s list.

Ninety nine books made the BFYA list. I have read seventeen of the titles and reviewed sixteen. Of those seventeen I read, six are BFYA Top Ten titles. What I read is listed below, with reviews. The full list of all ninety nine books is at the YALSA site; along with annotations for the titles.

What else? If you’re thinking “ninety nine titles is a lot”, BFYA does not have a maximum number of titles, but I recall part of the decision to make this all-fiction was to reduce the number of books read and books on the list. Which, well, didn’t happen. It just may be one of those things where something expands to the size allotted. Perhaps no matter what limitations are imposed on the types of books read (fiction, nonfiction, only authors whose last name starts with B), the list and nomination list will be long unless there is tweaking done on how books are nominated and get onto the final list. I know at the time BBYA was changed to BFYA there were suggestions about this. Over at the Heavy Medal blog, in the ALSC Notables List, there is some talk on the number of books in this list. Roger Sutton at Read Roger asks “what did they do, flip a coin” since about half of the nominated titles made the list.

A big thank you and congratulations to the hard working BFYA committee members: Terri Snethen, chair, Blue Valley North High School, Overland Park, Kan.; Martha Baden, Alice Boucher World Languages Academy, Lafayette, La.; Jennifer Barnes, Gleason Library, Carlisle, Mass. and Concord- Carlisle (Mass.) High School; Louise Brueggemann, Naperville (Ill.) Public Library; Debbie Fisher, Central Falls (R.I.) High School; Michael Fleming, Pacific Cascade Middle School, Issaquah, Wash.; Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas DLIS, Denton; Alissa Lauzon, Haverhill (Mass.) Public Library; Shelly McNerney, Blue Valley West High School, Overland Park, Kan.; Shilo Pearson, Chicago Public Library; Dr. Judith Rodgers, Wayzata Central Middle School, Plymouth, Minn.; Dr. Ann Sloan, McLennan Community College, Waco, Texas; Patti Tjomsland, Mark Morris High School, Longview, Wash.; Brooke Young, Salt Lake City (Utah) Public Library; Shauna Yusko, Evergreen Junior High, Redmond, Wash.; Gillian Engberg, Booklist consultant, Chicago; and, Crissy Claiborne, administrative assistant, Las Vegas-Clark County (Nev.) Library.

Again, this is just the list of BFYA books I’ve read:

*Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown, & Co., 2010. A BFYA Top Ten. 2011 Printz Winner. National Book Award finalistMy review.

*Donnelley, Jennifer. Revolution. Random House Children’s Publishing/Delacorte, 2010. A BFYA Top Ten. My review.

Erskine, Kathryn. Mockingbird. Penguin Group (USA)/Philomel, 2010. National Book Award winner. My review.

Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron.  Penguin Group (USA)/Dial, 2010. My review.

Funke, Cornelia. Reckless. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. My review.

Henry, April. Girl, Stolen. Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, 2010. Read it, didn’t review it.

*Marchetta, Melina. Finnikin of the Rock. Candlewick, 2010. A BFYA Top Ten. My review.

*McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Macmillan Children’s Book Group/Henry Holt, 2010. A BFYA Top Ten. My review.

Myers, Walter Dean. Lockdown. HarperCollins/Amistad, 2010. My review. National Book Award finalist.

Oliver, Lauren. Before I Fall. HarperCollins/Harper, 2010.  My review.

*Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Charlesbridge, 2010. A BFYA Top Ten. My review.

*Sedgwick, Marcus. Revolver. Roaring Brook Press,  2010. A BFYA Top Ten. 2011 Printz Honor. My review.

Stork, Francisco X. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors.  Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010. My review.

Turner, Megan Whalen.  A Conspiracy of Kings.  HarperCollins/Greenwillow Books, 2010. My review.

Whitney, Daisy. The Mockingbirds. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. My review.

Yancey, Rick. The Curse of the Wendigo. Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2010. My review.

Yovanoff, Brenna. Replacement. Penguin Group (USA), 2010. My review.