The jury members for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy were impressed by the number of outstanding books published in 2006, far too many to give all of them their proper due. We found that many of the books marketed to young adult readers were not only appropriate for that age but also satisfying in every way to us as old adult readers. We considered well over a hundred novels total, and even our first short list contained almost twenty books. Although we eventually narrowed our choice down to three books, in addition to the three excellent novels already on the ballot, we want to point out that the Young Adult category of fiction is currently rich and varied, and includes some of the best science fiction and fantasy books being published for any age group.
Three novels qualified for the ballot through the process of recommendations made by members of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Those three books are:
MAGIC OR MADNESSS - Justine Larbalestier, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group), 2005
MIDNIGHTERS #2: TOUCHING DARKNESS - Scott Westerfeld, (Eos) 2005
PEEPS - Scott Westerfeld, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group), 2005
The jury is empowered to add up to three additional books to the ballot, which is voted on by the members of SFWA in conjunction with the Nebula Awards. This year, the three novels we added to the ballot are:
DEVILISH - Maureen Johnson, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group), 2006
THE KING OF ATTOLIA - Megan Whalen Turner, Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2006
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT - Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt), 2006
The jury was charmed by Maureen Johnson's DEVILISH, a contemporary fantasy set in a Catholic girls' school in Providence, Rhode Island, surely a place where weird and supernatural things seem likely to happen. Jane, the narrator, is a smart girl who is not a cliche. She has a sharp and compelling voice that is a pleasure to read from the very first page. The pervading sense of weirdness sets up the escalating revelations of the fantastic without ever losing the elements that keep the novel grounded. We also liked what the novel has to say about the nature of evil, despite being so much fun to read.
THE KING OF ATTOLIA is the third book in Megan Whelan Turner's trilogy that began with Newbery Award winning THE THIEF (1996) and continued with THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA (2000). It's a riveting story full of twisty characterizations, action, romance, political intrigue, and the meddling of the gods in human affairs. At the center of the books is Gen, the Thief of Eddis, who is both an obnoxious boy and a brilliant political player in countries that are gearing up for war against the Medes, who have imperial ambitions. Gen is a wonderful character: he's irascible and conniving and smart, and he's completely compelling. Turner shows exactly what can be done with YA fiction by trusting her readers to be smart. This is a book that will reward rereading.
Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel about the effects of a meteor strike that drives the moon closer to earth's orbit with disastrous effects for the climate. It stands out for us because it features a parent figure who isn't absent, incompetent, or stupid. Equally significant, Miranda, the main character, isn't someone with amazing special powers or even someone destined to save the world, but just an everyday person who learns that she can survive a catastrophe. Along the way she makes sacrifices she could never have imagined and grows in ways that resonate far beyond the surface of the page.
For more information on the Andre Norton Award, please visit: http://www.sfwa.org/awards/nortonguide.htm
Submitted on behalf of the 2006 jury for the Andre Norton Award:
Charles Coleman Finlay, co-chair
John G. Hemry, aka Jack Campbell, co-chair