2011 has almost come to a close, and that means it’s time once again for a thousand blog best-of posts, not to mention yearly awards. There aren’t any awards which focus specifically on young adult science fiction, but one–the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Andre Norton Award–comes close. Though this award is open to both fantasy and science fiction titles, past nominees have included The True Meaning of Smekday, When You Reach Me, Ship Breaker, and Mockingjay.
Titles for the Norton Award (which is named for prolific fantasy and sci-fi writer Andre Norton, who was famed for her coming-of-age tales) are selected by a jury of active SFWA members–but I’m not going to let that stop me from musing about what sci-fi titles I’d love to see honored with a Norton. Of YA speculative titles published in 2011, here’s what I’d pick:
Sandler’s debut YA novel (one of the lead titles of Tu Books, a new imprint focused on diversity in YA and middle grade) is a beautiful sociological sci-fi tale. Though the science fiction is “soft,” the approach isn’t–Sandler creates a complex, vividly rendered world and fully explores the impact of the caste system utilized there.
Van Eekhout’s work is complex. Concepts like genetic engineering, robotics, and the singularity are all covered–and yet its totally accessible for its intended audience. Even better, it’s funny. Though it’s technically a middle grade title, so was Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, a previous Norton nominee. Work of this caliber really transcends age divisions, anyway.
See my review of The Boy at the End of the World here.
Mullin weds a fresh, gritty realism with the post-apocalyptic themes which have been so popular in recent years. There’s also an astute commentary on our government’s handling of recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina embedded beneath the surface. And yet the teenagers at the center of his novel are very real–not just adults in kid clothing. Highly recommended!
See my and Sean’s co-review of Ashfall here.
What 2011 YA sci-fi novels would you like to see honored with a Norton?