My Very Unofficial Alex Award Nominees

I have written before about my affinity for the Alex Awards. Each year, our staff here gets together to watch the webcast of the annual ALA Youth Media Awards. Of course, the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz award are headliners of that event, but I find myself looking most forward to the Alex Awards. This award is given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to teens.

I think a case can be made for a great number of books to be deemed to have special appeal to teens, so that makes it difficult to make any sort of official “mock” list for the upcoming award. But, here are a few titles I have come across that I feel would be great titles for teens, despite being written for adults.

This year’s ALA Youth Media Awards are given out on February 2nd, and we will be tuning in live!

Bone ClocksBone Clocks by David Mitchell. 9781400065677. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.

Full disclosure: David Mitchell is one of those authors that I gush about to people whenever we talk about books. His books are inventive, compelling, and superbly written. His latest, Bone Clocks, is all of these things.

15-year old Holly Sykes lives in a poor, urban area of England. She has a terrible argument with her mother that pushes her over the edge, and she decides to run away. The story spans decades, and throughout those years, she encounters many characters who play a part in her life and destiny. However, this isn’t a straightforward novel, as mysterious groups of warring, soul-stealing, time-manipulating good and bad guys know that Holly will play a part in their eternal battle. With multiple narrators, the time-spanning plot, and Mitchell’s writing prowess, this is a dizzying ride of a book!

The ThreeThe Three by Sarah Lotz. 9780316242905. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.

Mystery, horror, and intrigue dominate in The Three. In one day, in different places around the globe, four jumbo jets inexplicably fall out of the sky, killing nearly everyone on board. However, in three of the crashes, one child survives, and it is suspected that perhaps there was a child survivor of the fourth crash who left the scene. The children’s survival is seen as miraculous, but soon after they are returned to their guardians, their behavior is dramatically changed, and people start to wonder if there is something supernatural and sinister going on. Questions arise…was there a fourth child survivor? How did this happen? Is this a sign of the apocalypse? What has happened to these children? The story is uniquely told with messages, transcripts, and articles. If you like creepy books that might keep you up at night, this one is for you.

MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir. 9780804139021. 2014. Gr. 10-Adult.

Set in the near future, men have achieved the goal of traveling to Mars. Mark Watney is an astronaut on this history-making mission, but his euphoria is short-lived. A massive dust storm hits while he is on the red planet, and he is swept away down a ravine, with a torn suit, and his crewmates cannot locate him. Following protocol, they are forced to leave him behind as they quickly evacuate. Problem is, Mark’s quick thinking and resourcefulness cause him to survive. But now, he is stranded on the planet, and the prospect of any sort of rescue attempt is not good.

This is an obviously thoroughly researched book, which I believe is a great strength of the book, but it does get technical as Mark describes in mathematical and physical detail what he is doing to try and survive. This is a great outer space survival story that has “big budget Hollywood movie” written all over it.

Other great titles that I believe have excellent crossover appeal:

Girl With All the GiftsFlight of the SilversShort and Tragic Life

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. 9780316278157. 2014. Gr. 10-Adult.

Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price. 9780399164989. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. 9781476731902. 2014. Gr. 10-Adult.


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