YA Superlative Blogfest: Elements of Fiction

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The YA Superlatives Blogfest is hosted by Katy UppermanTracey Neithercott, Jessica Love, and Allison Miller. It’s a chance to highlight the best, most affecting, most entertaining YA reads of 2013. Get ready to add to your TBR pile!

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (Or, the plot you wish you’d thought of yourself.) —

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is part me wishing I had come up with this plot, which is totally mind-boggling, another part my desire to write like Maggie Stiefvater, and the rest, embarrassingly, a longing to write Gansey kissing scenes. There is no reality in which any of these things are possible, and my pride (flimsy as it is) will not allow me to write Gansey fan fiction.

Most Formidable World (Or, the setting you definitely would NOT want to visit.)—

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Rural Ohio without water from Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. First of all, it takes place in Ohio. It’s not a place I long to visit period let alone post-apocalyptically. Second, there is a water shortage, starving coyotes, and a bunch of horny men with guns. Nothing is easy in this world and nothing is safe. Third, it’s lonely and isolated.

Wanderlust-Inducing (Or, the setting you’d happily travel to.) —

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The world of Mages in The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. Much like in Harry Potter, this world exists within but separate from our own. It’s a place where magic is real, and controlling the elements is a skill to kill for. It’s set in England, which I am programmed to love from early childhood thanks to The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia. There’s a magical book that allows you to traverse fantasy kingdoms like a virtual reality video game. There’s a hot Prince…I’m straying from my point…it’s all the things I enjoy about fantasy plus the UK and an all-boys school.

Loveliest Prose —

(A tie and a cheat.)

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (not published in 2013, but I read it in 2013). Cadence is a big draw for me. As is atmosphere. As is language choice. More than her other books (which also have all the things I love) The Scorpio Races sings. It yearns. You can feel the wind whipping your face, soaking your skin with soggy air. I never stumbled while reading, I was just swept away.

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17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma. There are moments when you actually almost think you can smell fire. When the snow crunches beneath your feet. When the whole broken world she’s created just crumbles and you are left unable to pick up the pieces.

Best First Line —

I find this basically impossible to answer. So I will do it multiple times.

Fire was easy.

~ The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

A secret is a strange thing.

~ The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

He’s stopped trying to bring her back.

~ Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The boy and girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the True Sea.

~ Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Most Dynamic Main Character —

Art by Cassandra Jean
Art by Cassandra Jean

Richard Gansey (The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater) You could argue there isn’t one main character in these books because it’s an ensemble cast. You can argue that, but for me there would be no Raven Boys without Gansey. The story wouldn’t — no, couldn’t — exist without him. Gansey is their leader, their driving force. If you look up dynamic in the dictionary you will find a picture of Gansey (because I pasted it there to make my point). He is the epitome of dynamic because his depths are unseen by the casual onlooker. (I have a Gansey problem. I’m seeking help.)

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending — 

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I think many of us will say Allegiant. I did the flip backwards and forwards. I did the WTF, Veronica? I did the stare into nothing from bewilderment.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role —

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Nikolai (Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo) Usually you want the girl to love the guy. With Nikolai, I don’t mind if Alina doesn’t end up with him. He’s my love interest. He stands on his own feet, is powerful but kind, a secret brainiac, and an actual prince. He’s not just a game piece in the story, but a person you end up wishing you knew.

Best Use of Theme —

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The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. Throughout the series, Elisa is faced with a complicated question: Is she powerful because of her Godstone, or is she powerful because she’s intelligent and fearless? I think Rae Carson does a beautiful job of examining the difference between destiny and choice, between being a person of faith and a zealot, between being just and being vengeful.