Best of Teens 2010 - Fantasy & Science Fiction
The Legend of the King
For the past 12 years, Gerald Morris’ series The Squire’s Tales has breathed articulate life into a retelling of Arthurian legends with a contemporary approachability that doesn’t compromise their authentic allure. Noble knights, captivating enchantresses, mystical beings and dexterous swordsmen have all dutifully played their parts from book one. And with The Legend of the King, the tales come to a close as noble Camelot faces certain destruction at the unforgiving hand of Arthur’s illegitimate son, the wretched and pointedly evil Mordred.
Incarceron’s Big Question: Who is Behind Bars?
As readers learned in Catherine Fisher’s first book of her mind-bending, two-volume prison epic, Incarceron, the living, breathing prison that gives the book its title, was allegedly created as an utopian experiment. Those on the Outside believe that life on the Inside is superior. However, from the first chapter of Incarceron, readers learn that this is false. The second volume, Sapphique, takes its name from the legendary prisoner believed to be the only person to have Escaped.
2010 Best for Teens: Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush, by Luis Alberto Urrea & Christopher Cardinale
When Mr. Mendoza arrives in the rich green town of Rosario, which bubbles with humidity and the smell of mangoes, the self-proclaimed "Graffiti King of all of Mexico" changes the small village forever. In a starred review, Kirkus said, "Urrea's delightful tale of morality and meaning is rendered masterfully by Cardinale's boisterous illustrations, their bold outlines providing heft to the surrealism." After reading Luis Alberto Urrea's story, Christopher Cardinale went straight to his sketchpad, but he realized that he could not rely on photos alone for his images. So he traveled to Rosario in Sinaloa, Mexico. "There, I saw the landmarks that came to life in Luis's writing and I sketched portraits of the townspeople," says the artist. "Through this process I attempted to absorb some of the magic of the place to bring back to my drawing table in Brooklyn with the hopes that it would soak into the graphic novel."
2010 Best for Teens: The Curse of the Wendigo, by Rick Yancey
“This book was disgusting, gross and made me sick to my stomach. Thank you! I loved it,” reads Rick Yancey’s favorite piece of fan mail. This letter pays grand compliment to the Printz Honor winner’s dark imagining about young Will Henry, a new apprentice to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, who has dedicated his life to the ancient discipline of monstrumology, or the study of monsters. “I discovered the classics of the horror genre, like Dracula
, in high school,” says Yancey, who published The Monstrumologist
in 2009. “After turning in the third manuscript in the Alfred Kropp series, I wanted to challenge myself with something for older readers. The affection and nostalgia I felt for these books that impressed me so much as a young adult compelled me to imagine a world in which monsters were real.” This book
introduces The Wendigo, a creation that reflects Warthrop’s tortured psyche, while it also fleshes out the good doctor’s trade. “We live in uncertain, scary times and these stories provide a safe outlet,” says Yancey. “Fear is the primal emotion that we feel practically before anything else. I write about what scares me and trust the reader will feel the same.”
2010 Best for Teens: I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett
Young witch Tiffany Aching took on the Queen of the Fairies
with a cast-iron skillet, defeated the mind-controlling hiver
with sheer force of will and escaped the frozen embrace of the Wintersmith
, but can she handle the centuries-old Cunning Man, a sort of disembodied hatred that seeks to destroy all witches? Tiffany’s fans know there’s nothing easy about witchcraft. What may even be harder, though, is the knowledge that this is the last Tiffany Aching book
; she’s 16, after all, and putting away childish things. Tiffany’s creator, the brilliant Terry Pratchett, holds out a bit of hope for them. “Tiffany has grown up in this series and is now herself entering adulthood,” says the author. “It was quite an engrossing task to write the last book of a children’s series and meld it into an adult book. Have we seen the last of Tiffany? Possibly. On the other hand, if she does turn up, it will probably be an in adult Discworld book. On the whole, I doubt if this matters because I suspect that part of my success is that children read my ‘adult books’ and adults read my ‘children’s books.’ Fantasy, after all, is uni-age, and long may it survive.” Amen to that—or, as Tiffany’s friends the Feagles would say, “Crivens!”
2010 Best for Teens: White Cat, by Holly Black
“The Ban” on curse work went into effect in 1929, but that hasn’t stopped members of 17-year-old Cassel Sharpe’s family. Cassel is a sleepwalker and “the only nonworker in my whole family.” The novel
opens with his having sleepwalked to the roof of his prep-school dorm and waking with no idea how he got there. He’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend Lila’s murder. Worse yet, he may be responsible for her death, which he fears he may have committed in his sleep. “I’ve always loved caper movies and noir novels, so this was my opportunity to craft a fantasy world that was evocative of the mood of those stories,” says Holly Black. “This is the first novel I’ve ever written in first person, and the perspective of Cassel, a charming grifter with more secrets than he knows, was tricky but ultimately a delight.”
2010 Best for Teens: Mistwood, by Leah Cypess
The Shifter makes her home in the Mistwood. But an ancient spell binds her to the kings of Samorna; when they need her, she must answer the call. As this lyrical, mysterious book
begins, Prince Rokan discovers Isabel in the Mistwood. She remembers nothing of her life before he entered it, yet she knows something isn’t quite right. “Mistwood
started with an image in my mind of a supernatural creature being hunted in a mist-filled forest,” says debut author Leah Cypess. “I remember thinking up the first line one evening, picking up a notebook and sitting down to write. I had no idea what would come after that scene. But as I wrote, my main character’s struggle to figure out who she is, and the plot twists that spur her discoveries, all but rushed onto the page.”
2010 Best for Teens: The Odyssey, by Gareth Hinds
Graphic adaptor Gareth Hinds applies to Homer's hexameter his own poetic compression in prose form, staying true to the pace and tension of the heroic journey. Accompanying his retelling is his graphic translation of the imagery, utterly true to itself while evoking the enthralling detail of Mitsumasa Anno and the clarity of David Macaulay. "The Odyssey is a book I've always wanted to adapt," he says, "in part because there is so much to work with visually-fantastic monsters, gods, battles, shipwrecks-but also because its tells a remarkable story that continues to resonate after 2,000 years." Odysseus comes across as morally inconsistent and a consummate liar, yet he is also smart, strong and eager to drink in life's glorious strangeness. Lashed to the mast to hear the Siren's call, drilling a hot poker into the eye of Cyclops-you can't get much more compelling than that.
2010 Best for Teens: Reckless, by Cornelia Funke
secretly travels to another world, hidden behind a mirror. But one day, his younger brother, Will, follows him, and Will’s life is in danger. “When I left the Inkworld nearly four years ago, I didn’t expect to find another setting as satisfying anytime soon,” says Cornelia Funke, author of the Inkheart
trilogy. “But suddenly there it was: a world behind a mirror, where Grimms’ Fairy Tales had come alive.” This world resembles 19th-century Europe in many ways. “But the Empress of Austry keeps Dwarfs as servants. Sinister gingerbread houses haunt the woods. The curse of a Dark Fairy turns human flesh into stone,” she says. “Then of course, there’s Jacob Reckless, who is by far the most thoughtless and impatient hero who ever made me tell his story. He lives up to his name in every way, and I have to admit, I like him very much.”