Friday, February 12, 2016

CO Blue Spruce YA Award and 2016 Nominees

The Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award winner for 2015 is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Familiar to John Green fans, as well as a major motion picture, the beloved book about a young cancer survivor probably needs no further description.  The 2016 Blue Spruce nominees have also been announced.  Several of the books have already been reviewed in this blog, including Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and I'll Give You the Sun (2015 Prinz Award winner) by Jandy Nelson. Two nominees are sequels to reviewed books that were nominees last year: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes is the sequel to Falling Kingdoms and Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch is the sequel to Snow Like Ashes. The Selection is the first in a dystopian Cinderella series by Kiera Cass and The Young Elites is the first in a dystopian series by Marie Lu. The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by internet sensations Dan Howell and Phil Lester is a collection of writings from their series and The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks probably owes its nomination to the movie version starring Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson. The three final nominees that I would like to discuss in more detail are An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Program by Suzanne Young and I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.

An Ember in the Ashes, the  first book in a new fantasy series inspired by Ancient Rome, introduces Elias Veturius, the son of the military commandant in the Martial Empire, and Laia, a Scholar whose parents led the Resistance before their mysterious deaths.  When Laia’s grandparents are killed and her brother is taken prisoner, she agrees to go undercover for the Resistance if they will rescue him.  She poses as the personal slave of the commandant of the Blackcliff Academy where Elias trains. Although Elias would like to desert, he is chosen to undergo trials in a competition to become the next emperor.  He and Laia find themselves falling in love as they become unwitting comrades in the trials that are filled with magic and supernatural challenges.  Already optioned by Paramount pictures and sold to 19 international markets, this series is sure to be a winner. The sequel, The Torch Against the Night, will be out in August.

The Program is the first in a duo-logy about a program designed to deal with a teen suicide epidemic. The book focuses on Sloane, a teen whose brother committed suicide in front of her.  Fighting depression, her only solace is her boyfriend James, who is her support system.  When James is committed to the Program, which will wipe his memories, Sloan despairs and ultimately is sent to the Program as well. The book is divided into three parts, reflecting her life before, during and after her treatment.  Fighting to resist losing all her memories, she is aided by a troublemaker named James, and when she is released, she has one key memory which will help her fight the system.  In the sequel, The Treatment, James and Sloane rekindle their romance and are on the run in this exploration of the relationship between memory and identity. 

I am Malala is an autobiography written by Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize winner in history.  It tells the story of a young Muslim Pakistani girl who was taught to stand up for what she believes.  When the Taliban took control of her region, they dramatically reduced the rights of women, denying them education and freedom of movement.  Malala fought for her right to be educated and on October 9, 2012, she was shot point-blank while riding the bus home from school.  Defying all odds, she survived and began her campaign of peaceful protest.  This book is available in adult and young adult versions.  I would recommend the YA version which includes exclusive photos and material that complement her story, detailing how one young person can inspire change in the world. 

Book talks for all twelve Blue Spruce nominees, as well as tips for promoting the award, are available at