The finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards have been announced. Amid many categories celebrating the best in science fiction for adults, there is also an award for the best YA book. Here are the finalists in that category:
On their annual beach vacation, a teen and her family experience an unusual summer. It’s a summer of time spent sailing and swimming. A summer full of competitive tennis games, shared meals, and naps. It was also a summer of new love, hot crushes, and strange boys. It was the summer when the Godden brothers arrived. Kit was the golden brother, impossibly handsome and entirely intoxicating when he turned his attention on you. Hugo was the darkness to his brother’s shine, the surliness to his charm. As the narrator watches, her sister and Kit become involved, flirting at first and then becoming more and more. What should be just a summer fling has an underpinning of unease and manipulation, just in time for Kit to turn his attention to the narrator who by now should know better. But even then, he has more chaos to create.
Printz Medal winner, Rosoff has created a slim volume that is impossible to put down. It has the languid and flowing feel of Kit himself, drawing readers in with promises of summer fun and then turning into something quite unusual, dark and menacing. The book is a great coming-of-age story where readers get to see a young woman realize what is happening around her and yet not quite be able to stop it from engulfing her as well. The narrator is never named, but all is seen and felt through her own experiences, making it an intensely personal read.
The writing is exceptional. Rosoff quietly and carefully seeds doubts with the words she chooses to use in describing the characters, the things that the narrator sees, and the questions that she has deep down. Rosoff situates us all with a rather unreliable narrator, who sees her siblings and family in a specific way, then along with the reader has new realizations about them and what that means.
Sun drenched, threatening and vibrantly feminist this is a triumph of a book. Appropriate for ages 14-18.