And then there were four.
My mock bracket is in smithereens at this point – although actually, so is everyone else’s! Most people only correctly predicted one of the four Round 3 books. And it’s fascinating how those expectations came into play in the second round decisions.
Expectations are part of who we are as readers, both because we bring ourselves to everything we read and because we’re partially the products of what we read. And there are certain expectations for the books that advance – and what happens when they don’t meet those expectations? I love both approaches seen in the second round: setting aside all possible permutations and judging just what’s before you, as well as the honesty involved in acknowledging that you do not read in a vacuum. I’m so happy these approaches are coming out of this book battle, because it really is a reflection of the many ways we read.
It isn’t just the posts that have been fascinating – the Round 2 comments have been amazing as well. Supporting characters! How accuracy in novels affects the reading experience (or not)! Filling in the blanks as a reader! The definition of YA! The individuality of the reading experience!
A few additional notes on those topics:
- Supporting characters: Here’s my chance to go to bat for Chaz and Raffy in Jellicoe Road and Dancer in The Demon King and Savona in Crown Duel and Eddis in The King of Attolia and Ms. Clayton and Zoe’s dad and Natalie’s mom in The School Story. Their stories aren’t the center of their novels because there’s only so many stories a novel can tell, but they’re fully-drawn characters. They’re interesting and challenging and they matter to their stories. They help make these books the great books they are. (This is a continuation of my Read Them All campaign. Once again: go forth.)
- Accuracy in novels: Should incorrect details change your mind about a novel’s excellence? Both the Newbery and Printz criteria mention it, so it would seem the ALA thinks accuracy does affect the work. Then again, the ALA can’t and shouldn’t dictate the way you respond to a book, and obviously this year’s Printz committee had no problem with the mathematical inaccuracies in Navigating Early (they gave it an honor medal).
- The definition of YA: Specifically, what sort of growth characterizes the YA experience? Is it instead a marketing category, or a category defined by protagonist age? And relatedly, how are the YA and new adult categories different?
- The individuality of the reading experience: I’m just going to link Melissa’s three laws of reading here. I love all these books, as I’ve stated quite a few times – that doesn’t mean you’ll love them, or that they’re flawless works. But I love that this battle gives you the chance to read and discuss them; that was always my goal.
Round 3 and the last few days of the battle start tomorrow. (The site bracket has been updated again.) Thank you to the second round judges for your thoughtful responses! Thank you all for participating!