In a few hours time we’ll know which book has won the coveted Carnegie Medal for 2015 but with such a strong shortlist how can you pick a winner? The YLG Northwest Committee casts a final eye over this year’s contenders and reminds us what sets each of these books apart from the rest…
‘Apple and Rain’ by Sarah Crossan
It’s beautifully written and we love the integral role of poetry in the book and the way Apple uses this as a release for her true feelings. There’s a cast of wonderful characters (ahh Del) who are complex and evolving – there’s no narratorial judgement to pen them in. A bittersweet mix of endings and beginnings – it’s a beautiful read that ends on such a lovely note of promise.
More than This by Patrick Ness
It’s got a great plot and asks some big questions all wrapped up in Patrick Ness’s trademark tender but truthful voice. Emma tells us “I read this mostly late at night, when it was pitch black outside and I could hear the faint sound of car engines from the street as I was reading about the sinister ‘Driver’ – I was petrified but completely hooked. I also thought the opening scene was really strong and vivid – I absolutely had to read on!”
Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman
The first person narrative of Charley is a triumph. It’s instantly engaging and beautifully reflects how she sees the world. Though this is a tough read -unflinching and unremitting are terms which spring to mind – there is a real sense of a journey having taken place and a genuine sense that we have seen the narrator grow and mature throughout the book. Plus what an opening…
‘My life began in the cook-house. Seemed I’d just grown there, like a seed from a crack in the floor.
Child’s heart got to attach itself to something. Mine attached itself to Cookie, winding around her like bindweed on a post. So long as she was there I could stand tall. When she was gone I was left sprawling on the ground helpless, twisting and twining every which way, not knowing how I was ever gonna get up on my own two feet’
The Fastest Boy In The World by Elizabeth Laird
Elizabeth Laird creates intensely believable characters and a wonderful sense of place – all the more impressive for being achieved in such a slim volume. We were totally swept along for the ride as we see Addis Ababa through Solomon’s eyes and taste the palpable excitement on the streets as the victory parade draws near. Though the story is told through eleven year old eyes there’s a powerful message about legacy and the promise of the future.
Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge
A real pageturner but one which has so much lurking beneath the surface. Setting the story amidst the devastation of World War One is a masterful stroke as is the playing with names – Triss, not-Triss and Trista. There are some real stand out moments too – such flights of the imagination – we loved the descriptions of the silent cinema screen and its after effects on Pen.
When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan
We’ve never read anything like this before but it’s pretty a-mayonnaise-ing! The success of the book is in it’s approach to language. Achieved through the character of 16yr old Dylan, it’s his playfulness and natural experimentation with language that make this book a joy to read.
The Middle Of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean
Who knew that a story about a telegraph station in the middle of the Australian outback could be such a gripping read?! Geraldine McCaughrean excels herself in describing the landscape and her characters in this book. The writing is simply glorious – we were squirming with the injustice and real jeopardy of Comity’s situation (Quartz Hogg – *shudders*) as well as revelling in the way she navigates her story.
Tinder by Sally Gardner
Otto’s first person narrative is instantly engaging. It allows Sally Gardner to explode the conventions of the fairytale and run with them. Though there’s still something of the ‘olde world’ about the language it allows the book to be fairytale, teen novel, gothic fiction, and commentary on war simultaneously. Dark, doom laden but beautifully executed.