My Thoughts on Carnegie Medal 2016

carnegie cover2Every year my school hosts a shadowing group for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, which is basically where we read all the books on the shortlist and discuss them over smoothie and brioche. I’ve loved it for all the years I’ve participated and this has been no exception! I actually think that the shortlist this year was the best in a while. Perhaps that’s because it catered more to my taste in YA rather than MG, but hey.

This post is a little late because One by Sarah Crossan was announced as a winner the other week, but I thought it would still be fun to tell you guys my personal opinion on all the books.

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We read about one book a week, and I managed to finish them all this time. 🙂 Here’s a lovely infographic showing how I rated them. I’ll go from least favourite upwards so that we end on a positive note!

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgewick I regret to say that this was definitely my least favourite. (I rather liked the author’s other book, Midwinterblood.) It was very carefully crafted and Deep. But…I just didn’t get it. Although beautifully written, the stories didn’t grip me, and I couldn’t understand the heavy-handed theme of the spiral. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT ALL MEANT, GUYS. So it wasn’t really for me.

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine I was one of two people in our whole book group who didn’t enjoy this one, so perhaps I’m in the minority. It was better than I had initially anticipated — and I think it did well to try and remove itself from typical grief/uplifting story, but it just annoyed me. The prose was too purple, the characters boring cut-outs. (MANIC PIXIE DREAM BOY MUCH. Dear Librarian: Thurston is definitely not Donna Tartt’s Boris. Uh-uh. Nope.) In a different year I might have placed I higher, but as it is it stays here.

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders Again, in a less strong year this might have been higher. I thoght I’d hate this — especially since I haven’t read the original Five Children and It — but I thought it was a cute adventure story. And IT WASN’T SUPER PATRONISING. Thank God for that. Carnegie has a habit of picking patronising MG novels. *sighs*

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness What?! you cry. You’re putting a Patrick Ness 4th? After raving about this for so long? I know, I know. I do love this book. But upon re-reading it, I realised that…I don’t know, it just isn’t my favourite Ness book. There were other excellent books this year. And I still think that this book is really important and that the whole not-Chosen one thing actually does work. But it’s just not up there for me.

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake Weirdly, this book moved up in my estimation from when I first read it. I understood I a lot better! And I COULDN’T REMEMBER HALF THE TWISTS. So there were a lot of surprises. *coughs* The Dreaming parts really dragged the pacing, especially since the ‘real world’ bits were pretty fast action-y, but overall a strong contender.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge I love this book! It’s one of my favourite MG reads in ages. The combination of pseudoscience/fantasy things, gothic Victorian aesthetic and historical feminism is SO GOOD. It’s just a solid novel.

One by Sarah Crossan This was wonderful; I’ve read several books by Sarah Crossan and I still think that her strength lies in verse novels. (Is that what I call them? Poetry novels? Anyway. ) She does them so well, writing beautiful poems whilst still creating a narrative! IT IS VERY IMPRESSIVE. My main problem was that it did feel a bit clichéd and expected… I don’t know, I guess I’d just have liked a bit more of a twist.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley When I first saw this was on the shortlist, I thought it would be my favourite. And…well. It still is! I adored this book even more the second time I read it. History! Civil rights! Queer people in history! (And awesome chapter titles.) SO MANY THINGS TO LIKE. The ending was wrapped up a bit too neatly, but to be quite honest we need more happy queer characters in historical fiction. Lies We Tell Ourselves will probably have a personal space in my heart for a long time. 🙂

Although One was crowned the eventual winner, I’m not too upset because it was my second choice. I thought the judges would probably go for it. And Lies We Tell Ourselves actually won the popular vote in the inter-schools event I attended, so I’m super happy that other people have enjoyed it! (Also, OUR TEAM WON THE QUIZ. Mwahaha delicious maltesers as a prize.)

read any of the books on the shortlist? do you attend a shadowing or book club? which one would have been your favourite?

14 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Carnegie Medal 2016

  1. That sounds like such a fun idea to read them all together! I felt a similar way about The Rest of Us Just Live Here– it’s excellent, but Ness has written better (More Than This!!!)

    1. Yeah, it is really fun! *high fives* Ooh that’s good to hear. Like, I feel a little bad, but I don’t want to adore a book simply because it’s Ness. More Than This was actually on the shortlist last year too — I loved it but there were like 2 people who said it ripped off The Matrix. (Which I haven’t seen, so I can’t really compare ahaha.)

  2. I have only read two of the books on this list: One and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. If I was going to pick one over the other it would probably be TROUJLH because I really loved how it turned the special snowflake trope of YA completely on its head. And also sexual fluidity makes me EXTREMELY HAPPY. Also, like you, I found the ending of One to be quite cliche and expected. I still really liked the book, though, and thought it was super lovely.

    I REALLY need to read Lies We Tell Ourselves! If it has a happy ending then I am 100% for that book.

    There’s a book club that I attend via Skype once a month where two friends and I pick a theme for the month and read a book that fits into it. I really love it, especially since it’s an opportunity to chat about books “in person” ;D

    (Also: The Lying Tree sounds AMAZING)

    1. Yeah, I agree that The Rest of Us did such a great job of subverting tropes. (AKA my favourite thing ever.) I mean, I do love YA but it does have some common themes that are easy to poke fun at. 😛 I’m starting to feel like perhaps the opinion of my reading group changed my own thoughts! I felt a bit awkward being, like, the only person who enjoyed The Rest of Us. Hmm…

      Yay, I hope you enjoy it if you do read it. Queer fictional characters who get happy endings are wonderful. *nods*

      Ooh, that’s such a cool idea! Maybe once I get too old for Carnegie I should try it out. I think book clubs can really get me to read different books, which is cool!

      (I really thought so!)

  3. AHH. SO MANY FABULOUS BOOKS. I personally loved The Ghosts of Heaven, although I can completely see where you’re coming from. If you don’t get the message, the whole book kind of just topples. And One is such a beautifully written, emotional story. I really enjoyed The Rest of Us Just Live Here & Lies We Tell Ourselves as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! ❤

    1. YES my reader heart bursts with pride for this shortlist. I don’t know, I did enjoy some parts of it but I found that personally I could never really connect with it. There were a couple of people in my group who ADORED it, though, and I’m glad that you did too! And thanks so much for dropping by 🙂

  4. I will forever and eternally be in love with Lies We Tell Ourselves. I read it quite a while ago when there wasn’t much hype for it and LOVED it. Seriously I could rave about it for years. I haven’t read any of the other books, except for The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Ahh well!

    1. Aah it was great to see that other people are enjoying Lies We Tell Ourselves too! (I think we have mentioned our mutual love of it before. BUT I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT BOOKS I ENJOY.) Ack I’m still pretty disappointed it didn’t win, but I’m super glad that Carnegie helped it reach a wider audience. 🙂

  5. One is officially on my tbr, I actually really want to write a novel in verse and I loved Crossan’s dystopia duolgy when I read them a few years ago (perhaps a bit cliche but fun all the same), I’ve heard so many good things about One though, I can’t wait to pick it up!

  6. Ahhhh I never read Lies We Tell Ourselves just bc im not a huge fan of books set 15+ years in the past (my love of lgbtqa+ literature was trumped by my dislike of the blurb) but her other book called What We Left Behind is really really amazing. I might just be saying that bc the main charcter is gay and then shes like woah ok i think im trans maybe and thats exactly what happened to me when i first started identifying as trans but 10/10 would recommend tbh !

    1. Yeah, although I did personally enjoy Lies We Tell Ourselves, if you’re not a fan of historical fiction I can see why you might not like it. I’ve read What We Left Behind too, that one’s wonderful! ❤ (I might be slightly a Robin Talley fan ahaha.) I've barely seen any books with genderqueer characters so that was pretty cool. *nods*

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