The winner of the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award for 2014 is Divergent by Veronica Roth. This book is the first in the Divergent series and is followed by Insurgent and Allegiant. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it takes place in a futuristic dystopian Chicago, where all people are born into one of five factions which have a different strength and focus: Abnegation (service), Amity (friendship) Candor (truth) Dauntless (bravery) and Erudite (intellect). On their 16th birthday teens take an aptitude test, and can choose to remain with the faction they were born into or change allegiances. The main character, Tris, chooses to leave her abnegation family and join dauntless, where she meets and ultimately falls in love with her demanding instructor, Tobias (aka Four). Much of Tris's success in training is because she is actually a divergent with strengths in multiple factions. This makes her a target of the merciless autocratic leaders who kill divergents because they are hard to control. As in all dystopian literature, Tris and her friends fight the status quo in hopes of creating a "brave new world" where all inhabitants live in harmony. The struggle continues in Insurgent, leading up to the final book in the series, Allegiant, which is told from both Tris and Tobias's points of view. The shocking, yet satisfying, ending leaves no doubt that this is truly the end of the series. Divergent comes out as a movie starring Shailene Woodley on March 21st.
Most of the nominees for 2015 are books from series as well. They include Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Legend by Marie Lu, Matched by Ally Condie, The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost, Proxy by Alex London, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Smoke by Ellen Hopkins, Truancy City by Isamu Fukai, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and Unwholly by Neil Shusterman. I guess a surefire way to win over teen readers is to give them a dystopian or fantasy series to which they can become loyal.
The other two nominees are The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. For more information about the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult book award, including book talks for each of the nominees, as well as contest rules and promotional materials, go to http://www.coloradobluespruceaward.org.