Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Beasts of Prey Cover Art

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 28, 2021 
ISBN: 978-0593405680

Koffi and her mother live with and work for the Night Zoo, caring for the magical, monstrous creatures within. When her mother’s life is threatened one night, Koffi accidentally unleashes a power she didn’t know she possessed and must run for her life. Meanwhile, Ekon, second son of a famed military hero, is desperate to prove to his brother that he belongs in the ranks of the Sons of the Six after a disastrous interruption to his final rite of passage. Koffi and Ekon meet by chance and each recognizes a potential path forward if they can locate the Shetani – a magical, murderous beast that has been plaguing the area for almost 100 years. Koffi wants to find the Shetani to sell it in exchange for freedom; Ekon wants to find the Shetani to kill it to prove his mettle as a warrior. Neither is honest with the other about their true motivations, but they will have to find a way to work together if either of them is to survive. 

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What to Do After Your Debut? Keep Writing, Of Course!

The 2021 Morris Award Finalists (shown above) were announced in December, and the winner will be revealed at the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 25. First granted in 2009, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award recognizes the most impressive debut published in Young Adult Literature each year.

With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.

2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.

In fact, several names on the 2021 BFYA nominations list were originally finalists for the Morris Award, including 2015’s Jessie Ann Foley, 2016’s Anna-Marie McLemore, 2018’s Nic Stone, and David Yoon in 2020.

Last year’s winner, Ben Phillippe, has been nominated. Both the winner of the 2019 Morris Award and one of its finalists have companion books that were nominated — Adib Khorram with Darius the Great Deserves Better and Tomi Adeyemi with Children of Virtue and Vengeance. And Becky Albertalli, the winner in 2016, is enjoying praise this year for Yes No Maybe So, cowritten with Aisha Saeed.

What about books out in 2021? Morris Award recipients have those, too!

Just released is Concrete Rose, 2018 Morris Award winner Angie Thomas’s follow up to The Hate U Give.

And out in August is In the Wild Light from 2017 Morris Award winner Jeff Zentner.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The moral of the story is this: no matter which finalist is chosen in 2021, we will look forward to reading them for years to come.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 27 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers / Macmillan
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250170996

Zélie, Amari, and Tzain are back with a vengeance in part two of the Legacy of Orïsha series. Now that magic has been unleashed again inOrïsha, Queen Nehanda has found a way to defy laws of magic and draw from the powers of the tîtáns to form her own legion of guards. With the rightful heir at her side, the pace intensifies as the twisted Nehanda instigates chaos and commands attention at any cost.

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#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone, 2019 Morris Award Finalist

Tomi Adeyemi is a finalist for the 2019 William C. Morris YA Debut Award for her absorbing novel Children of Blood and Bone, published by Henry Holt Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

In Children of Blood and Bone, magic once ran in the bloodlines of the people of Orïsha. Diviners, children born with white hair, were destined to become maji in their teenage years, when they would develop abilities to control natural forces such as fire, water, and even life and death. These maji were an influential part of monarchy until King Saran eradicated magic through the slaughter of all adult maji. Those remaining–the diviner children and those of their bloodline–were subjugated under restrictive laws and made to suffer. Now seventeen, diviner Zélie remembers the night her mother was taken, and though she dreams of revenge and revolution, without magic her people are powerless. Then she meets runaway princess Amari, who fled King Saran with an ancient relic that she claims can restore magic. As they embark on a dangerous quest to unlock the relic’s potential, Amari’s conflicted brother Inan pursues them with his father’s soldiers.

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#ALAAC18 Recap: #BFYA2019 Teen Feedback Session

The Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session is one of the best parts of every ALA conference. Local teens get the opportunity to read books that have been nominated for #BFYA and give their feedback about the titles. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of real teens, and the group in New Orleans were particularly amazing. They all sounded like professional book reviewers, and I wish there had been time to talk with them at length about the books they enjoyed.

Here are some of the titles the teens particularly liked from this year’s #BFYA nominees list along with a little of their feedback and a link to each title’s nomination post (when available.)

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#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, June 8 Edition

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
ISBN: 978-1524720803

A Female cosplayer and aspiring costume designer becomes the target of online trolls after one of her creations is featured at a comic-con. Following an uncomfortable encounter at a comic book shop Cameron decides to escape the harassment by pretending to be a boy. But what was supposed to be a one time charade turns into a secret identity when she is invited to join a Dungeons and Dragons game – as boy Cameron. As she experiences the freedom of living as a boy, Cameron is confronted with increasingly angry and possibly dangerous trolls as well as romantic entanglements reminiscent of A Twelfth Night with gay representation.

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#AA2019 Nominees Round Up, April 18 Edition

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire, narrated by Michelle Dockrey
Audio Published by Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
ISBN: 978-1427293794 

“Beneath the Sugar Sky” by Seanan McGuire opens with seventeen year old Rini falling from the sky out of a magical door and landing into a pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Rini has traveled from her home world of Confection (a true Candyland) to the “real world” in search of her mother, Sumi. However, she discovers Sumi has died before Rini was even conceived. Rini and Sumi’s friends from Eleanor’s West Home for Wayward Children embark on a quest to find and resurrect Sumi in order to save the world of Confection and Rini’s life.

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