Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Ah, the Goodreads Choice Awards

If it’s a massive popularity contest you aim for, then the Goodreads Choice Awards is ideal. I dunno, I think in general I am most interested in the results of awards like the World Fantasy Award, which has a panel of judges; or the Nebula, which requires nominations to come from professional writers. In other words, not wide-open popularity contests. On the other hand, there’s a place for pure popularity too, obviously, and it was really quite interesting seeing what got nominated in all the Goodreads categories.

Of course I read mainly books that have been recommended by bloggers I follow and Goodreads reviewers I follow and so on, so these awards don’t much matter to me — no awards matter to me in that sense — but still, interesting to see what’s shuffled up to the top of the heap for 2015.

I don’t know that much about many of the categories, but here are the SFF winners and runners-up, conveniently provided by File 770.

Best Science Fiction
Winner: Golden Son, Pierce Brown, 32,225 votes
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson, 15,710 votes
The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood, 14,147 votes

The winner of this category obviously smashed the competition, getting about twice as many votes as the second-place novel. I hadn’t read any of these three, in fact. I voted for Ancillary Mercy, which I loved and which got about 1/4 as many votes as the winner. I see that the range of votes was from 32,000 all the way down to less than 1000 for KSR’s Aurora. Interesting.

Best Fantasy
Winner: Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman, 33,681 votes
A Darker Shade of Magic, V. E. Schwab, 30,530 votes
Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson, 18,171 votes

Obviously the voting was much closer between the top two choices here, then again a very sharp dropoff. Again, I haven’t read any of these. I voted for The Fifth Kingdom by NK Jemisin, which I admit I haven’t read. I voted for it on the strength of her earlier titles.

Best Horror
Winner: Saint Odd, Dean Koontz, 17,644 votes
Alice, Christina Henry, 11,845 votes
The Last American Vampire, Seth Grahame-Smith, 10,336 votes

We can sure see that Horror doesn’t have as extensive a fan base as SF or Fantasy, can’t we, since the winner here picked up only about half as many votes as the winners of the above categories. I haven’t read any of these either, but I voted for Saint Odd because I definitely have liked other books in this series, which imo represents some of Koontz’s best work. I need to read the Odd Thomas book before Saint Odd before I can finish the series. Hopefully pretty soon.

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction
Winner: Queen of Shadows, Sarah J. Maas, 35,770 votes
Carry On, Rainbow Rowell, 29,569 votes
Winter (The Lunary Chronicles #4), Marissa Meyer, 28,418 votes

Interestingly, Novik’s Uprooted was included in this category. That’s what I voted for, of course. I can see the book as YA, but I believe it was marketed as adult, and I wonder how much that hurt it in this awards contest?

I have to admit, I am 100% not interested in Carry On. I loved Fangirl, but the part of Fangirl I was not interested in was the Simon Snow excerpts. I thought Simon seemed like a boring, unintelligent, unperceptive twit. Obviously a lot of readers were indeed interested in the spin-off title, though.

I will never understand the attraction of the Lunary Chronicles. I listened to the first one and about 3/4 of the second and honestly, no. Talk about boring, unintelligent protagonists. I just do not like this series.

I’m impressed that Sarah J Maas managed to win this category even though her votes were divided up between two different titles. I haven’t yet read anything by her, but maybe eventually. So many older titles on my TBR pile, I don’t know.

Other categories: I’m pleased to see that Gray didn’t win the Romance category. I’m a bit disturbed to see that Go Set a Watchman won the fiction category; honestly, I think there are significant doubts about whether Harper Lee truly was okay with publishing this book and it bothers me. I would have liked to see Ravensbruk win the history category, given this review by Maureen at By Singing Light. I voted for it on the basis of that review. But of course the actual winner (Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson) might be superb.

Most interesting discovery from this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards: Did you know there was a spinoff novel series featuring Veronica Mars? I didn’t. The second book, Mr Kiss and Tell, was a nominee this year. The first book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, was published last year, though I didn’t hear about that. It’s set after the movie, which in fact I just watched and liked quite a bit.

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8 Comments Ah, the Goodreads Choice Awards

  1. Linda S

    I was pretty skeptical about CARRY ON myself, since it seemed like a strange premise for a whole novel. However, I loved FANGIRL and ELEANOR AND PARK, and I liked Rowell’s other novels, so I gave it a try. To my surprise, I found it tremendously compelling and emotionally satisfying. It’s also funny–Mike and I have been using one line as a catchphrase ever since we read the book. I actually ended up liking most of the characters (including Simon) much better than the originals, though of course the characters and the book as a whole get a lot of their power from resonances with the Harry Potter books.

    I’d be really surprised if CARRY ON worked at all for someone who hadn’t read or didn’t like Harry Potter, and I don’t know how it would work for someone who loved every word J.K. Rowling ever wrote. But I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s basically a Harry Potter fan but has some quibbles with the series. I’m even thinking of putting it on my Hugo ballot, though I don’t think it has any chance of actually being nominated.

  2. Rachel

    Wow, Linda. Now I feel like I had better try CARRY ON after all. I so wasn’t going to, but with an endorsement like that, how can I resist? I wonder if that one catchphrase line will jump out at me when I read it?

  3. Linda S

    I hope I haven’t oversold it–I loved the book, but I honestly don’t know whether it will work for you or not. If you do decide to try it, let me know what you think.

  4. Aimee

    I am with you on the Go Set a Watchman ickiness factor. I still feel shocked that people who describe themselves as her fans and who cherish To Kill A Mockingbird would go out and spend money to support someone who seems to have pretty dubious intentions toward Lee.

    I had some trouble with Carry On, mainly around the world. It was supposed to be set in Britain, like Harry Potter, but it clearly was not written by a Brit. I lived there for 4 years and my husband is English, so for me there were huge obvious things that kept jarring me out of the story. (e.g. summer break is 6 weeks generally, not 3 months; Brits use the word ‘cab’ not ever ‘taxi’ unless they are talking about the yellow ones in NYC; in general, Brits don’t make cookies at Christmas, they do mince pies.) Other Britishisms felt like they were hung on top of the story to be like, ‘this is British!” And I kept thinking, ‘just because you wrote, “jammy bastard,” it does not make the book/character/setting British.’ The characters were strong and interesting, I thought, but I couldn’t manage to get sucked into the story and suspend my belief.

    And not to be a total Negative Nancy here, but I also did not enjoy Throne of Glass. It is very readable and sucked me in, but every time I put it down I felt like everything I’d just read was, ‘meh.’ I think that its beginnings in fanfiction are visible, which isn’t to say that fanfiction is bad, but that at least the first two books in this series feel pretty loose. I prefer tighter plotting, so it’s just not the series for me.

    To end on a positive note, some of my favorite books this year (aka totally subjective list):
    Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
    The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
    The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater*
    Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers*

    *not published this year

  5. Rachel

    Aimee, I so agree that I can’t see someone who is a self-professed fan jumping on the Go Set a Watchman bandwagon. I just . . . if it was a rough draft and Lee didn’t want it published, why touch it? Just, no.

    I guess I’m not all that likely to notice the Americanisms in Carry On, at least not enough to bother me. Incidentally, I can’t help but feel that mince pies are not an adequate substitute for a plethora of fancy cookies.

    And! I’m glad you loved Scorpio Races! That was one of my favorite books the year I read it and made me an instant Stiefvater fan. Shoot, now I’m sorry that I forgot to make November Cakes in November. I totally meant to.

  6. Linda S

    Aimee: Knowing more about the setting than the author does can definitely be terrible for immersion. I ran into a similar issue with one of Charlie Stross’s early books that was set in the US. And don’t get me started on Harry Dresden’s Chicago!

  7. Mike S.

    Though in the case of Carry On, it can sort of be explained by the underlying conceit, which is that it’s more or less Rainbow Rowell’s fanfic of the “real” Simon Snow series.

    (Not to be confused with the Fangirl protagonist’s fanfic of the same work.)

  8. Maureen E

    I didn’t even realize that Ravensbrueck was up for the GR Choice Awards! Drat, I would voted for it! I did read Dead Wake as well and it’s a perfectly interesting, competent account of the sinking of the Lusitania, but for me it has nothing on the sheer gut-punch emotional factor of Ravensbrueck.

    In conclusion: TELL THE WORLD.

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