Monday, January 01, 2007

The Cybils SF and Fantasy Shortlist

The SF and Fantasy shortlist for the 2006 Cybils awards has been announced, as follows:

Melanie Gideon - Pucker (Review)
Cliff McNish - Silver City (Review)
Silvana de Mari - The Last Dragon
Tamora Pierce - Beka Cooper: Terrier (Review)
Jonathan Stroud - Ptolemy's Gate (Review)

There is no review for The Last Dragon since I couldn't finish the book; the young elf got on my nerves so much during the first four chapters that I couldn't stand to read any more, but Sheila of Wands and Worlds has a review on her Blog. As you might guess, I didn't vote for The Last Dragon; I also didn't vote for Pucker, as I didn't find Thomas very engaging. The book wasn't dreadful, I just didn't find it as interesting as other books I had read. My personal shortlist from the 88 books that were nominated, looked like this:

Catherine Fisher - Corbenic (Spoiler Review)
Cliff McNish - Silver City (Review)
Garth Nix - Sir Thursday (Review)
Terry Pratchett - Wintersmith (Spoiler Review)
Jonathan Stroud - Ptolemy's Gate (Review)

And my "reserve" list was:

Linda Buckley-Archer - Gideon The Cutpurse (Review)
Chris Humphreys - The Fetch (Review)
Catherine Webb - The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (Review)

Interestingly, of the books on my personal shortlist, only one was read *during* the Cybils period (ie. between the time of the Award being created and the shortlist deadline date), and that was Cliff McNish's Silver City, the other four were read earlier this year. So why are they on my personal shortlist ? Well two of the criteria for this award were Kid appeal (is it a "read again and again book" ?) and Is it book an older child, or even an adult, will rush to finish, before reading it a second time?. Whilst I'm not a kid, I did rush to finish all of those books on my shortlists and I will re-read, if I haven't already, at least four of those books again - I'm not quite sure about Cliff McNish's book, although I certainly intend to read other books by him; I have already re-read Wintersmith, I plan to re-read Corbenic fairly soon, and I know I'll re-read Sir Thursday in anticipation of Lady Friday coming out in March. I'm also sure I'll re-read the whole Bartimaeus trilogy again at some point. With regard to my "reserve" shortlist, all three books are the first in a series and as I enjoyed all three, I will definitely be re-reading them before I read the later books in the series. Another of the judging criteria asked us to consider the writing, and all eight of the books I shortlisted are very well written - characters and incidents have stuck in my mind - and given I more or less read a book a day, that's no small feat !

I shall be interested to see which book the judging committee selects as the overall winner - the books by Cliff McNish, Tamora Pierce and Jonathan Stroud were particularly good and I was pleased to see them shortlisted. I didn't personally shortlist the Tamora Pierce book because I read that quite late in the nominations process, but it's a good book, with a strong female character as the main protagonist and I look forward to reading the other two books in the series.

There are a handful of books that were published this year, that didn't get nominated for the Cybils this year, which was a disappointment; books such as Marcus Sedgwick's My Swordhand Is Singing (Review) and The Foreshadowing (Review); E E Richardson's The Intruders (Review); Gus Kuijer's The Book of Everything (Review); Garth Nix's Shade's Children (Review); Beth Webb's Star Dancer (Review) and John Gordon's reissued The Giant Under the Snow (Review - which, incidentally, was the only book I received this Xmas - I got almost all DVDs as I've been somewhat inundated with new books recently !).

So what did I get out of the Cybils process, aside from so many new books they've overflowed my room onto my landing ? I had the fun of discussing some interesting books with four people, some of whom have widely different tastes to my own. I had the pleasure of discovering books some new authors whom I may not otherwise have read (for example, I'd seen Cliff McNish's books on the library shelves but never felt prompted to pick them up). I've had my view that fantasy for children and Young Adults is in a very strong position right now, because there are some fabulous writers out there, and new ones are being published every year.


Kelly said...

Hmmm...Maybe I should order a book from your wish list?!? I've been mulling it over before I return on the 7th and will order...

Michele said...

Go for it !