The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. For more information about the Alex Awards and this years other winners, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.
Three of this year’s honorees were in attendance at #alaac18 to accept their awards, answer questions, and sign copies of their books. Below are brief recaps of their speeches along with a recommendation for fans of their work from each author.
Daniel H. Wilson
The Clockwork Dynasty
Automata Elena and Peter are “born” in Peter the Great’s Russia… or are they? Can they really live in the power-hungry world of humans? And can they find the “breath of life” before it is too late?
After finding out he won an Alex Award, Daniel H. Wilson immediately began to think about all the cursing, violence, and disemboweling in his book. A kind librarian later informed him that, “teenagers already know all the curse words.” He went on reminisce about going to the library as a kid. Upon seeing all the books, he thought, “this is all candy, and this is all free.” He praised librarians for helping him “find the best candy.”
When asked for recommendations for fans of his work, Daniel offered Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.
All Systems Red
Stuck on a distant planet with an exploratory crew, a Security Robot kills time watching soaps. After a group of scientists is killed, the robot (now calling itself “Murderbot”) must figure out how to save its crew from a similar fate.
As a kid, the public library was Martha Wells’ lifeline. Even as a very young child, she always ended up in the sci-fi section, which had a lot of pulp 50s and 60s books. For example, Martha read dune when she was 12. She went on to talk about how libraries are meaningful to her in many ways–as an escape, as affirmation, etc.
The recommendation she provided for fans of her work was the short story Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
In this dark fable, twins Jillian and Jacqueline venture to a dangerous world where they must choose one of two paths. As they discover their true selves, they find that love and adventure are among the most hazardous things.
Living on the west coast means that Seanan McGuire has woken up to congratulations two years in a row because of Alex awards. (She won an Alex Award for Down Among the Sticks and Bones’s predecessor, Every Heart a Doorway.) She candidly and hilariously admitted that her first reaction to the news was “what’s an Alex award?” As a teenager, Seanan read about 300 pages a day. Her first written piece was a 17-page essay complete with footnotes about why she, as a child, should be allowed to read Stephen King. She commented that she realizes now that the Alex Award was meant to celebrate books that would appeal to teens like the one she was.
The book Seanan recommended was In Other Lands by Sara Rees Brennan.