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Young Adult Fiction

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Talisman Chronicles: Episodes 1-6

    by T.M. Franklin

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot: Franklin’s paranormal adventures are filled to the brim with fast-paced action, foreshadowed mystery, and intriguing romance and family dynamics—all while the author skillfully captures the life of a teenager.

    Prose: Franklin’s prose is clean and flows well. At times the writing is poignant and poetic—and the banter between the heroes flows naturally. The author’s sense of humor and appreciation for the teenage psyche clearly shines through.

    Originality: Franklin deftly captures the teenage/young adult mind, while revealing inspiration from other magical/fantastic literary worlds.

    Character Development: Franklin’s meticulous attention to the development of the characters makes the work shine. Each hero and heroine—as well as the story's villain—are fully developed and vivid.

    Blurb: T.M. Franklin's The Talisman Chronicles is an enchanting, enticing, and beautifully-woven story.

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Third Coin

    by J.A. Howard

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot: Howard offers up an expertly woven fantasy adventure that is well structured, moves along at a good pace, and brings together all the plot threads in an appropriate way.

    Prose: This is a very well written novel featuring great descriptions, smooth prose, and realistic dialogue.

    Originality: Some of the set pieces will be familiar to readers, but the book brings Arthurian legend into modern times in a way that is interesting, effective, and fresh.

    Character Development: The characters here are very well crafted, have distinct voices, and will feel real to readers. The relationships between the main characters—as well as their relationships with their peers—are believable and relatable.

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Titchfield Turnabout

    by Paula Lennon

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot: The Titchfield Turnabout is a moving, propulsive, and exceedingly well-crafted novel. Lennon transports the contemporary struggles and injustices teenagers face to a new context, where the stakes are even higher. Ultimately, readers will find this a relevant and powerful read.

    Prose: Lennon’s skillfully crafted prose is graceful, authoritative, and alive—delivering compelling and memorable characters and experiences.

    Originality: Lennon's novel is original and unique. By contrasting the familiar, unjust world of today with the less familiar, unjust world of the past, Lennon creates a seamless, engaging, and emotional read.

    Character Development: The characters in The Titchfield Turnabout are believable, distinct, and well-developed. Readers will root for the young heroes to overcome their situation, as well as their own mistakes and doubts.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Faithful And Devoted: Confessions Of A Music Addict

    by Jenna Rose Robbins

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot: The book is well plotted and moves along at a good pace. This makes for an engaging and entertaining read.

    Prose: There is a relaxed, friendly tone to the prose, as if the author has always known the reader. This pulls the reader into the author's journey.

    Originality: This memoir is original. The author's story seems fresh and will stick with the reader.

    Character Development: The author does an excellent job of turning herself and Marta, her pen pal from Spain, into a well developed characters. The two are funny and believable.

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Precipice

    by Elena Anderson

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot: The well-crafted plot of this novel will engage readers. The conflict at the book's core ratchets up the stakes and creates a fast-paced narrative

    Prose: The prose is skillfully crafted and a pleasure to read. The descriptions are vivid and memorable.

    Originality: The storyline here is original and edgy. Though readers will have encountered some of the book's themes and plot points before, the author makes them her own.

    Character Development: Natalie is a solid, realistic character. Her voice is strong, and dialogue further reveals her character. Trevor is equally well developed.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Counting Wolves

    by Michael F. Stewart

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: What appears to be an urban fantasy twists to reveal a shocking truth. This novel grabs readers and keeps the pace going until the very end.

    Prose: The prose here is superb. It is quick, sharp, and easy to read—and it keeps readers turning pages.

    Originality: This book deals with a difficult subject, mental illness, not only with great compassion but in a very unexpected and original way.

    Character Development: The characters are well developed, and they evolve and change. They are self-aware, cognizant of their flaws, and trying to heal themselves.

    Blurb: This fast-paced deconstruction of mental illness, reminiscent of Neal Shusterman's Challenger Deep, takes a hard look at the stigma of mental illness.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Secrets Return (Leftover Girl Book 2)

    by C.C. Bolick

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: This novel is well plotted and well paced, intriguing, and will hold readers' attention.

    Prose: The prose is well crafted, appropriate to the material, engaging, and will keep readers turning pages.

    Originality: The story is told in such a way that the reader is convinced of its authenticity. This telling is original and gives strength to the story.

    Character Development: The development of characters are excellent. They are layered, flawed, and complex.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Ember of the Planet

    by Dove Winters

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: Ember’s journey is a lot of fun and filled with plenty of twists and turns. While she doesn't seem to truly struggle that much with the tasks placed in front of her, this is forgivable in the first book in a larger series. A truly entertaining novel.

    Prose: This is a well written novel with lovely descriptions and prose. It is also very appropriate for a YA audience.

    Originality: This novel follows the structure of a basic fantasy novel. However, Ember occupying the roles of both hero and helper/mentor is an interesting twist that breathes fresh life into the formula.

    Character Development: All of the characters in this novel are well rounded and fully developed. Ember and Aaron in particular have interesting backgrounds and believable character arcs, while the secondary characters carry their own weight as well.

    Blurb: This novel is a wonderful start to a fun fantasy adventure.

  • Quarter Finalist

    KINO and the KING: A Journey in Time

    by Jen Angeli

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: The novel is well plotted, compelling, moves along at a good clip, and will engage readers from start to finish.

    Prose: The prose is another strength of this book. The writing is smooth, enjoyable to read, and appropriate for young readers.

    Originality: This is an original and fascinating tale that is sure to entertain. The setting is well rendered and describes a place that many young readers will have never visited.

    Character Development: The two main characters, Kino and Kalani, are very well rendered and relatable.

  • Quarter Finalist

    The Night People (Book One)

    by Lane Alexander

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: Alexander's novel is fast-paced and features an energetic and engaging storyline. The author provides readers with ample and logical backstories, while the plot rapidly unfolds, hooking readers and not letting go.

    Prose: Alexander's prose is clear, concise, and beautifully eloquent during the most nightmarish scenes.

    Originality: Alexander's work is certainly inspired by classic science-fiction and contemporary series. But despite these nods to other works, Alexander's voice remains fresh and original. Each horror and phantasm that the author brings to life is more gruesome and haunting than the one preceding it.

    Character Development: Alexander 's characters are well developed and believable. The author deftly provides creative backstories for each of the major players, which helps readers engage with them.

    Blurb: Alexander's novel will have fans of horror and sci-fi squirming in their seats with both enjoyment and fear.

  • The Light Over Broken Tide

    by Holly Ducarte

    Rating: 8.75

    Plot: The author uses the atmospheric setting to craft a haunting, skillfully plotted narrative, tinged with a sense of murky, encroaching dread.

    Prose: Ducarte writes in graceful and subtly poetic prose, vividly conveying the high emotions of grief and fierce young love.

    Originality: Ducarte integrates paranormal elements into the story in a manner that doesn’t overpower the more realistic dimensions; the balance achieved between these aspects of the narrative provides a compelling and uncommon psychological complexity.

    Character Development: The romance that blossoms between Rebecca and Shawn has the intensity and euphoria of folie à deux. Ducarte depicts how the two characters’ mutual desire to escape into fantasy shapes their identities and emboldens their relationship.

  • Plot: The plot here is strong, engaging, and detailed—and it is the details that hold the plot together and make it believable. Young readers will find this a fun read.

    Prose: The writing is clear, crisp, age-appropriate. and fits with the material.

    Originality: The characters and their adventures are wholly original. The character names—which are well thought out—are just one of many nice touches.

    Character Development: The main characters in this book, Orville and Sophia, are well developed and charming, and readers will swept up in their adventures.

  • Fifteen Seconds of Normal

    by Alex Marestaing

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot: Marestaing’s novel is a smart, steadily-paced story that fluctuates between the protagonists' daily revelations in diary-like fashion. In an elegant loop, the author opens the novel with a climactic event and then recounts all of the time leading up to that event and after.

    Prose: Marestaing writes characters that are refreshingly intelligent, mature, emotional, caring, and relatable. These qualities particularly shine through in their dialogue and backstories, which are seamlessly interjected throughout the novel.

    Originality: Marestaing’s novel calls to mind other YA romance voices, but the unique way of structuring this novel between voices and time periods lends fresh air to this text. The integration of literary quotes from a literature-obsessed student, is an asset.

    Character Development: The unique, unsung heroes of this novel receive their fifteen minutes of fame in poignant, memorable ways. Through the characters' interactions with each other and others, they emerge as genuine individuals on their way to developing more fully developed senses of self.

  • Huntress (Life After Book 1)

    by Julie Hall

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot: This winning novel features plenty of dark twists, turns, and thrills. Readers are introduced to an entirely new realm full of fantastical creatures.

    Prose: Hall’s writing is clear, effective, and eloquent. The smooth prose drives the narrative forward.

    Originality: Hall’s novel pulls from many classic and contemporary inspirations, but feels original due to the fresh, creative elements imagined by the author herself.

    Character Development: Hall devotes much time to the development of her characters. Audrey in particular is well rendered and vivid.

  • The Slope Rules

    by Melanie Hooyenga

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: While the plot here is pretty standard for YA, that doesn't mean the story isn't well executed. The author has crafted a compelling book that will engage readers.

    Prose: The prose is tight and enjoyable from the first paragraph until the very end. The author's descriptions are vivid and beautiful.

    Originality: Although the plot is somewhat standard, the author finds ways to make the story feel fresh, new, and unique.

    Character Development: Cally has a strong, self confident voice and is a fully developed character. Most of the supporting cast are also well rendered.

  • Firebrand

    by Sarah MacTavish

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: While an intriguing, fresh look at an important period of American history, the book takes a long time to coalesce. However, the depth of research is evident and the story speaks to the heart.

    Prose: The prose is crisp and clean. The book features a fine balance of description and dialogue. Each phrase seems chosen with care for maximum impact.

    Originality: The wholly original plot and examination of slavery and the abolitionists in the United States is absolutely fascinating. Of particular delight is the frank look at the plight of Irish immigrants and the moral questions that arise when one is faced with a choice between family and faith.

    Character Development: Each of the characters is well developed with a clear voice. The character voices will likely speak quite well to any audience -- from young adult to adult.

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