The Printz award is always exciting because there are no lists of nominated titles or finalists--it's anyone's guess and sometimes the outcome is not what I expected (I'm thinking of last year's omission of The Fault in Our Stars). For 2014, there were four honor books alongside winner Midwinterblood, including our own pick for the best YA book of 2013, Eleanor & Park. Here are all five recipients of this year's Michael L. Printz award and honors--consider it a great way to choose your next book.
- Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick - Winner!: Seven intertwined stories told through time, Midwinterblood has been compared to Cloud Atlas but it also carries a dark edge of horror mixed in with love and fate. Highly praised by critics and readers alike, this is a novel that grabs on with both hands.
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Honor: 2013 was the year of Rainbow Rowell as far as I'm concerned. Now I really want to go back and read her adult novel, Attachments. Eleanor & Park is contemporary fiction at its best and this story of family, coming-of-age, and first love tattooed itself on my memory and heart.
- The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal - Honor: In this debut novel, detailed descriptions evoke the daily life and political atmosphere of the royal court during the European Renaissance. Two young women laboring in the court--a seamstress and a mute nursemaid--become entwined with mad Queen Isabel and a struggle of power and greed.
- Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner - Honor: Brutal, allegorical, and original, Maggot Moon is set in a nightmarish alternate 1956 under a ruthless totalitarian government. Our narrator is a teenage boy with his own set of problems, who uncovers a global hoax that, if exposed, could destroy the regime under which he's been suffering. Short chapters that pack a punch.
- Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool - Honor: Vanderpool won a Newbery Medal for Moon Over Manifest in 2011 and she's a masterful storyteller. Navigating Early, set at the end of WWII, follows two boys on an epic journey along the Appalachian Trail. There, they encounter pirates, a mythic bear, hardship, and finally forgiveness.