The Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award has been recognizing the most popular books among middle and high school students in the State of Colorado since 1985. This year's list of 12 titles is certainly one of the most diverse I've seen, demonstrating that Colorado teens read widely and are seeking #ownvoices stories. The award is unique in being entirely nominated and voted for by teens. Each year teens in grades 6-12 are free to nominate their favorite titles; a list of 12-15 titles is then compiled by the Blue Spruce Award committee based on number of nominations received. Students must have read at least three of the titles to vote for a winner. After reviewing the titles below, simply go to Vote Now, by December 31, to have your votes counted! Booktalks courtesy of the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Committee.
And this year's nominees are:
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Lara Jean Song Covey is preparing for an amazing senior year. Prom, beach week, and graduation are going to be great and she gets to share it all with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky! To add to the excitement is her father's wedding and Margot coming home for the summer. But Lara Jean's last year at home also brings challenges, like deciding where she wants to go to college and how that might affect her relationship with Peter. With no easy answers, how does one choose? Does Lara Jean follow her head or her heart?
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
The first book in the new Legacy of Orisha series introduces Zelie, a diviner with latent magic abilities, who is hoping to bring magic back to her kingdom. King Saran has killed most of the maji, including her mother, but his daughter Amari escapes his palace with a scroll containing the power to reignite magic. Amari is devastated when her maid, who is a diviner, is killed by her father. During her escape she is aided by Zelie, who realizes that the scroll Amari has stolen is one of the three relics need to perform a ceremony to restore magic powers to diviners. Along the way, allegiances shift and a cliffhanger ending will leave readers anxious for the sequel!
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
Biracial Rowan Chase discovers a skeleton on her wealthy family's property in contemporary Tulsa, Oklahoma. As she digs further into the history of this unknown person, she begins to learn much about the past, the present, and her own family's history. Will Tillman, living one hundred years earlier, is caught in the bitter reality of a city divided by cruel racism, some of which he finds himself directly responsible for. Told in alternating chapters by the two seventeen-year-olds, this is a fascinating mystery that reveals some of the little known history of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 and the painful enduring legacy we still deal with today.
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
The first book in the Empirium trilogy alternates between two stories, set a thousand years apart, about two women, the savior Sun Queen and the destructive Blood Queen, who will impact the fate of the Aritas empire. The story opens when Rielle, who wields elemental magic, is forced to undergo seven trials to discover her true identity as the Sun Queen and ascend the Empire's throne. A thousand years later Eliana, a bounty hunter, joins the rebels who are fighting the Empire. The stories of magic, angels and saints in Rielle's era are thought to be myths in Eliana's. However, when her mother disappears, Eliana attempts to rescue her and gets embroiled in a cosmic battle that has been ongoing since Rielle's reign.
Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
When her mother and sister leave for Mars, Zara Cole stays behind in New Detroit for a life of petty crime. When she picks the wrong mark her life takes a dangerous turn and she decides that her best chance at survival is to turn herself in to a youth detention center. Once she is "safe" Zara is given an unexpected opportunity to escape the problems that plague her. She has been chosen as an Honor, an elite group chosen by the Leviathan, a species of alien that has aided the human race. Immediately sensing a connection with Nadim, the alien ship she is assigned to, and it doesn't take Zara long to realize that there is a lot that the Leviathan and the humans aren't telling her.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Rowan and Citra are 16 year old teens who live in a future Utopian world where poverty, disease and even death have been conquered and everything is controlled by the benevolent self-aware AI called Thunderhead. To maintain a sustainable earth population, an organization independent from Thunderhead made up of Scythes is created to randomly cull members of the human population. New Scythes are chosen, sometimes against their will, and forced to learn the art of killing their fellow humans - something that has long had a complicated moral component. Rowan and Citra, in dangerous competition with each other, soon learn that there is cruelty and dark corruption in the Scythe organization, a fact that may cost them their lives.
The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riodan
In the final entry of the Gods of Asgard Series, Loki is free and preparing Naglfar, the ship of the dead, for the battle to end all battles, Ragnarok. Magnus Chase and his steadfast friends must stop Loki before the ship is ready to sail. As the group faces many obstacles along the way, the biggest challenge will be for Magnus to fight his own inner demons. Will all he's learned since becoming a resident of Hotel Valhalla be enough to get past the trickster god?
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Half Japanese and plagued by anxiety, Kiko Himura has never felt like she fits in. Her only solace is her art and the hope that she will be accepted by Prism Art School in New York and escape her abusive family, including her blue-eyed blond narcissistic mother, distant brothers, and predatory uncle. When she is rejected by Prism, she is devastated. When she runs into her childhood best friend Jamie at a party, he convinces her to go home with him to California to check out art schools on the west coast. There Kiko meets famous artist Hiroshi Matsumoto who takes her under his wing and helps her blossom. With the help of Hiroshi and Jamie, she begins to overcome her social anxiety and express her true feelings. Each chapter ends with a description of her drawings that reflects her growth, setbacks, or a newfound understanding achieved.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
In alternating first-person chapters, this story chronicles the romance between Natasha, an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica whose family is being deported the next day, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American whose parents are insisting he become a doctor. They meet and fall in love during one fateful day in NYC. Daniel, a dreamer and a poet, is on his way to an interview for admission to Yale. When they both witness a shoplifting incident at a record store, he falls "in love at second sight." Their paths continue to converge over the next 12 hours and Daniel is determined to make her fall in love with him. Although she is in a race against time, Natasha can't help but be charmed by his insistence that fate means for them to be together.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
GONG. GONG. GONG. This phone call is how 18-year-old Mateo Torrez learns that he has less than 24 hours to live. In a near-future New York City, the Death-Cast service alerts people on the day they will die. They don't know exactly when or how they will die, but they know there is no way to escape death that day. Less than an hour later, 17-year-old Rufus Emeterio receives his phone call from Death-Cast. Because of tragic losses earlier in their lives, both Rufus and Mateo find themselves alone, and they use the Last Friend app to seek an End Day connection that leads them to each other. Hesitant at first, the boys find adventures together and eventually grow closer than either of them expected.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Normally, becoming the King or Queen involves simply being the first born to the current Queen or King, right? But in Fennbirn, there are always triplets born, all queens. All are eligible to be the Queen Crowned and all are possessors of specific magic. Katharine is a poisoner who can ingest and make poisons, Arsinoe is a naturalist who is in concert with plants and animals, and Mirabella is an elemental who can call up fierce storms or fire. When these sisters are very young, they are taken away from each other and raised by the political party in charge of these different magics. The night the sisters turn sixteen, they will begin the fight for the crown. The last queen standing will be Queen Crowned and the political party that girl belongs to will rule Fennbirn.
Warcross by Marie Lu
Emi Chen is a hacker who makes a meager living working as a bounty hunter, tracking down people who bet illegally on a popular virtual reality game known as Warcross. When she hacks into a Warcross tournament game to scavenge, she is discovered by the game's creator, Hideo Tanaka. He flies her to Tokyo and hires her as a hacker spy in order to find a villain known as Zero, who is after him. She poses as a player on one of the tournament teams, but in this virtual world filled with double crosses, it is hard to know who to trust. A former video game artist herself, the author's attention to game detail makes this a very believable futuristic read.
Voting closes on December 31, so VOTE NOW!