Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reluctant Choice

I finished reading the finalists a while ago, but I didn't want to be the first to post (and risk the wrathful smack of others for my choice!) Thanks, Laura for blazing the trail for me.

This was my first Smackdown and it was a most enjoyable experience. Many of my students were eager to hear about my reads and were happy for the recommendations that followed. Even my friends kept asking what I was reading at the moment! So way to go team - the entire YA genre owes us a debt of gratitude.

Now for my vote. I admit, I've been a fickle reader. I kicked out Wonder in the first round because it seemed too simple and in retrospect, I'd probably say that it was one of my favorites of the tournament (is this a tournament? Sports were never my thing. The bracketed competition threw me off...) Others kicked out Forgive Me, Leaonard Peacock, and like Laura, I think that is the winner in my heart. Then when I compare More Than This to ALL the finalists, I think: how could it be gone? I advanced it because I needed more opinions! But you people gave the wrong opinion! Then I advanced Bomb, which was OK (but let's be honest - the competition was weak). I'd rank Bomb beneath the three previously mentioned books.

So I started with Ivan, because it was short and I was pressed for time. I read it. Then I read the posts about it. Then I re-read it, thinking perhaps I had first read the wrong book. Not so. I don't get it! 8 or 9 votes as the Zombie pick? What?! Ivan was a definite no for me. I felt like it was a weird cross between Dumbo and Charlotte's Web - sentimental drivel. Sure, it had a definitive gorilla voice and a couple nice sentences, but it was so boring. There. I said it. (Smack that!)

I was expecting to be blown away by Counting by 7s. Many of my students had read and loved it before I got around to reading it. So I had high expectations (higher, still, because Ivan was such a letdown). And then I read it and it was just meh. Typical quirky-outsider-protagonist-with-dead-parents-discovers-true-meaning-of-friendship-and-belonging-through-the-course-of-a-random-project-with-the-help-of-a-bizarre-cast-of-new-friends kinda novel. Was it enjoyable? Sure. Did it have the same effect on me as Leonard? Not even close.

But I have to choose. So I cast a reluctant vote for Counting by 7s. While it didn't move me profoundly in any way, it was enjoyable and cute and I found myself wanting to keep reading. Willow is endearing and I like to think in some alternative literary shipping (to use a word my students taught me) universe, she would get together with Auggie from Wonder.

So there it is. My fourth favorite book I read wins my vote. Of course, I'll eventually get around to reading some of the other books and, fickle as I am, probably change my mind about everything. But for now, I choose 7s.

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