YA Book Prize 2015

As some people were aware, I was gently shadowing the shortlist for the YA Book Prize over the last couple of months. Like, you have no idea how happy this new shiny Prize made me; finally, there was something just for the books that counted as YA. They were not thrown in with the children’s and hidden behind the adults. No, this was theirs and theirs alone.

So these are the ten books that ended up on the shortlist.
  • A Song for Ella Grey, David Almond
  • Salvage, Keren David
  • Say Her Name, James Dawson
  • Lobsters, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
  • Half Bad, Sally Green
  • Finding a Voice, Kim Hood
  • Only Ever Yours, Louise O’Neill
  • Goose, Dawn O’Porter
  • Trouble, Non Pratt
  • Ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgwick
Now, I never finished reading them all (seriously, the irony of never having time to read because of working in a book shop is not lost on me) but I have three  at the top of my TBR list, and out of the ones I did read, I have a very clear picture of what I wanted to win.
It’s no secret that I did not like Half Bad, so that one was not on my radar. I mean, even I cringe at my review of it (I hate writing bad reviews), but that doesn’t mean I don’t think others would love it. It was a very ‘boyish’ book. Magic for men, as my mother called it.
Say Her name was a good book, but having read others on the list already, I didn’t really see why it was there. As ghost stories go, it was creepy, and entertaining to talk about at my book group (for those that have read it, we have a big just of water on the table for about five minutes, before two of the teenagers got me to move it. I’m sure some of you must have had the same reaction), but it didn’t have as much in it as the others. Those had themes of good and bad, what the world could be and how humans think. This was…just a ghost story. A well written one.
So. Lets talk about my favourite (Review in progress of this one, by the way). Ghost of Heaven!
I was first introduced to Marcus Sedgwick at the age of 12, where my father gave me the book My Swordhand is Singing for my birthday. I fell in love with it instantly, and sort out every book I could by the same author. So of course, last year, I had Ghost of Heaven in my sights the second I knew it existed (it helps that the cover is so beautiful). And I fell in love with this book too. Its so well written, so different to what you would expect, that, this, to me, was the book that should have won.
You can tell by my tone that it didn’t.
No, the winner was actually the first book that I read, right back at the start of all this.
Only Ever Yours.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this book was amazing. Like, it was so well written but also terrifying and horrifying and I don’t even have the words to talk about it even months after reading it. It raised issues in it that most people don’t want to talk about, and spoke of a world that this world could easily become (#WhyWeNeedFeminism)
But at the same time…Although I want to thrust this book into the hands of every person my age, I could not recommend this to a teenager. There is a lot in there which I would not want younger readers to read- like the whole ‘we must all be beautiful’ thing. Some people would take it at face value and not see the horrifying ends it results in, and they would think ‘I mist be like these girls. Perfect and thin and stunning and only an object for men’ (sidenote: People this is not what girls and woman are for. Just to check you do all know that. We are actually people)
So I have a mixed view on this. I did love the winning book…just not enough for it, in my eyes, to win.
Like, who judges the books as well? Who picks them? Are they adults or the Young Adults these books are meant for? Because it makes a difference. Adults read things differently. They take meanings differently. They way their brains work is different. How do they decide; and do they get people who the books are aimed at involved?
I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about the books and the prize and everything. But I will read the rest of the books and make my own mind up about them.
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