Thanks for voting in round one! We are ready to BEGIN ROUND TWO. This round will match the winners from round one with round two.
Round Two: Fantasy
I had several complaints about pairing The Golden Compass and Harry Potter in round one – indeed, I may have misjudged by pitting two giants against each other in just the first round of voting. BUT. That’s what made sense to me at the time. So on we go!
It’s true – The Golden Compass edged out Harry Potter by a little over twice the votes. Now, Lyra and Pan are up against another resourceful heroine in Sabriel, the titular character of Garth Nix’s fantasy trilogy. She squeaked by I Shall Wear Midnight by just one vote – does she stand a chance against The Golden Compass?
Both The Monstrumologist and Coraline dominated their first polls with more than half the vote. Both monster stories, Coraline is more of a sparse ghost story while The Monstrumologist is straight Victorian era blood and gore.
The Hobbit and Ella Enchanted earned an equal number of votes while crushing their competition. Now Bilbo, the journeying hobbit, is matched with Ella, the slightly bent fairytale version of Cinderella, who solves her own curse despite the efforts of her fairy godmother.
It saddens me that Holly Black’s Tithe didn’t make it out of the first round – but that might be because Weetzie Bat is a cross-generational phenomenon, and continues to be an immensely popular pass-around book. But can it win against another twisted fairy tale, about a boy who has to outsmart the stories to get his family back? The Book of Lost Things demolished its first competitor, after all.
Round Two: Science Fiction
This was a toss-up, with A Wrinkle in Time squeaking by to face off against The Hunger Games, which steamrolled through round one. Time/space travel vs. dystopia!
In one of the only complete lock-outs of the first round, Ender’s Game now faces what might be slightly tougher competition: Scott Westerfeldt’s series about the cost of physical perfection, and the penalties of governmental oppression.
Possibly one of my favorite books up here, I’m pleased to see Leviathan edged out The City of Ember (which I do think is an excellent book) and is now up against Feed – which also passed its competition, Matched, by one vote. A steampunk retelling of World War I vs. one of the most harrowing visions of the future I’ve read.
This match-up will be interesting because I may have inadvertently made some selections that most of my readers aren’t familiar with (and if that’s true, I implore you to try these most excellent works). Eoin Colfer’s Airman locked out Ship Breaker, while Runaways edged past Going Bovine – with not very many votes between them. We’ll see how they do up against each other!
Round Two: Realistic Fiction
While I attempted some sort of reasonable system for my initial matchups, I did not take a lot of care to see how things would line up in the future – which is why this Round Two pairing feels a little bonkers. After beating Hatchet with over twice the votes, survival fiction goes up against YA chick lit (Sisterhood also beat out its competition with more than twice the number of votes). Which brings us Jean Craighead George’s survivalist runaway vs. Ann Brashare’s cadre of teen girls.
In the battle of classics, To Kill a Mockingbird won pretty handily over Lord of the Flies, while Eleanor & Park sneaked past Thirteen Reasons Why. Mockingbird has the advantage of decades of readership, where Eleanor & Park shines against its modern contemporaries (I thoroughly believe E&P has the staying power of a YA classic).
It’s going to be a tough call in this battle between outsiders – Alexie’s Junior due to his heritage and bleak future, and Green’s Hazel due to her illness and no future. Both novels are deeply affecting with splashes of wry humor, and both novels earned their first victories by just a few votes.
Holes absolutely crushed its competition in Round One, but so did Speak – and now two teens suffering different kinds of prisons face off. Stanley of Louis Sachar’s Holes faces much more literal confinement in addition to the prison of his family’s curse, while Melinda of Speak is trapped by shame, fear and outside pressure.
Round Two: Historical/Non Fiction
Another head-to-head with a new, future classic versus an established part of the YA canon. Code Name Verity had a tough fight against The Book Thief, where Island of the Blue Dolphins pushed past Julie of the Wolves pretty handily – both are going to be tough competition.
This match is going to be WACKY. Pirates versus teen nostalgia! Treasure Island beat out Huck Finn by a wider margin, but I wouldn’t discount Blankets because of that – the graphic novel is so sweet and widely read it could pull ahead on those merits.
I was a little surprised that Persepolis beat Little Women so handily – Little Women has the benefit of recognition, but Persepolis has perhaps benefited in that sphere from the lovely film adaptation (not remarking on the merits of both books, which are equally numerous – they’re both classics). Running Out of Time was perhaps a more predictable win, but this pairing will be exciting to watch.
I like this pairing – a witch versus a proto-Dickensian character. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a bit slower, more contemplative, and not humorous in the way that Terry Pratchett’s Dodger is, while Dodger doesn’t quite hit the emotional notes that Witch does. Set on either side of the pond, both winning their first match by a wide margin, this is one to watch out for.
Voting closes on Thursday! Sweet sixteen matchups will be posted on Saturday at the latest. Happy voting, and as always, tell everyone you know to help us determine the best YA book currently around!
Watching: Catching Fire, which I enjoyed greatly, and will be putting up a review in the very near future.
Reading: Wither, by Lauren DeStefano. It has an intriguing premise but suffers a bit from poor editing – there’s A LOT of repetition in the prose (the main character, Rhine, has heterochromia – her eyes are different colors – and I would estimate that she tells the reader that trait saved her life about once a chapter).
Playing: Monaco, which was on sale on Steam for $3 yesterday and is totally worth it. Way more fun to play with people, also.