Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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It’s a YA / MG faceoff for great and underappreciated titles! I do think some of these are pretty well known, probably only underappreciated in the sense that they’re not at the level of The Hunger Games . I also think there is a very wide range here, from the young end of MG to the high end of YA, which has got to add an extra layer of difficulty to the judging.

But! I must say, I thought this was a great idea even before I saw The Floating Islands is on the list. Then I spotted Islands and was instantly much more excited. I’ve read about half the books in Round 1 and, wow, I love every single one of them. Very nice indeed to see one of mine in this company.

Unfortunately, I haven’t actually read both titles in even a single given pair. This isn’t strictly a coincidence; a lot of these are not fantasy titles and those are mostly the ones I haven’t read. In fact, only two pairs of faceoffs involve books where both stories are fantasy. I wonder if that will make the judging easier or more difficult? I would be a terrible judge for most of these faceoff challenges because I think I haven’t read enough contemporary to be a fair judge.

Okay, looking carefully at the faceoff pairs:

I have Chime down on my TBR pile, but I haven’t read either it or the one it’s paired with. It’s the only pair where I haven’t read either title.

I personally loved Court Duel, but was not quite as enthusiastic about Crown Duel, so I wonder how that will work out. I have The Demon King on my actual physical TBR pile downstairs, but alas, haven’t read it.

I haven’t read A Face Like Glass, can you believe that? After everything everyone’s said about it? But I haven’t, yet. It’s just as well, as I somehow don’t feel I’m likely to be objective in judging that particular pair of titles. : )

I know Maureen loved Jellico Road, but I haven’t read it (yet). Though the Stephanie Burgis’ Kat series is charming, it reads a bit young for me and I don’t think I would be a good judge for it. I know Charlotte liked this title but preferred the second and third books. Like the one by Sherwood Smith, I suspect a contest here might come out differently if the challenge involved the second book rather than the first. I also wonder whether it’s quite fair to put a young MG title against a YA title such as Jellico Road. But my impression is that several other pairs do this, too.

You know what *I* would have put against Jellico Road? Tomorrow, When the War Began. Both set in Australia, both contemporary (-ish), both with themes involving war. Hah, THEN let the judges try to pick! I must say, Jellico Road is moving up my must-read list. Or at least my must-acquire list. Heaven knows when I’ll have time to read. Next month, maybe.

Okay, moving on, I think it’s going to be very difficult for ANYTHING to beat The King of Attolia; I’m glad I’m not facing off against MWT. That’s the first pair that I’ll just call, even though I haven’t read the one by Susan Cooper and even though I loved The Dark is Rising.

Nobody is likely to beat Patricia McKillip for me, plus I haven’t read The Road Home, but I know it is a historical. So that is going to be a tough pair to judge — I wouldn’t want to do it, even if I wasn’t going in biased, which I would be. I do know that Angie at Angieville really really REALLY loves The Road Home.

If I’d been arranging these pairs, I’d have put The King of Attolia against The Riddle Master of Hed. Talk about an impossible judging assignment! There would be NO WAY.

Of course Sorcery and Cecilia is wonderful, and here’s one where I think the first book is very clearly better than its sequels.

And! Of course, here is DWJ to wind out the contest. Would you have picked The Year of the Griffin? I might have, because I really loved that one, but if you were going to pick just one DWJ title, which would it be? I would probably have picked Dogsbody. Or The Power of Three.

Besides Tomorrow, When the War Began, I could easily pick a handful more. The Truthteller’s Tale. The Adoration of Jenna Fox. An Alien Music. The Sky is Everywhere. There’s no end! Any of you have a definite pick you’d love to have seen here?

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6 Comments Check this out —

  1. Charlotte

    I am rather pleased that this might get more people reading Riddlemaster! And Islands, of course, as well! (it is on my list of books to offer Reading Child in the near future…I’m waiting till he’s eleven, so this summer….)

  2. Elaine T

    I looked at the listing and wondered what the thinking was behind the pairings, because, of the ones where I’ve read both, I don’t see a lot to compare. It’s like apples and chocolate, or running and weightlifting: both good, but very different.

    I agree on KING. The Cooper was ok, but didn’t strike me as anything special. Of course, timeslips of boys to Shakespeare’s time for that age group have been ruined for me by POOR TOM’s GHOST by Jane Louise Curry. Nothing else has come close, and the Cooper had a scent of ‘problem novel’, too.

  3. Rachel

    That’s good to hear, Charlotte! You must have a lot of fun aiming books at kids you know.

  4. Brandy

    The only thinking behind the pairings was alphabetical order. It is the best way in contests like this from making it look like you are pushing toward a specific outcome. And it can lead to some fascinating decisions. I think the oddest pairing is definitely Kat and Jellicoe. I am so glad I don’t have to judge that. I love both those books but for very different reasons. (Though what I do have to judge may be worse. That top half of the bracket is mine in Round 3. I will decide which of the 2 books left goes to the final round. It scares me a little.) The books that were chosen were just books the organizer happens to love. I would have picked a different Marchetta, a different DWJ, and probably Queen of Attolia over King. And had even more MG.

  5. Rachel

    Alphabetical order! I would *never* have thought of that. It’s true that seems as close to totally random as you could get.

    I would have picked Queen of Attolia, too. Which DWJ would have been your choice?

    I definitely wouldn’t want your judging assignment! It looks like it’s going to be impossible by Round 3.

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