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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Kristin Cashore


Oh, this is always such a hard question. So many good books, so impossible to rank them! Okay, well, I read some fabulous Australian literature this year, so might as well start there:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. A complex, mysterious novel about a young woman unraveling the secrets of her past, written by one of my favorite authors. Very appealing characters. This was a 2008 book and is a finalist for the Cybils in the Young Adult Fiction category.
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan. Magical realism; short stories. I never read short stories, but these ones hooked me. Margo Lanagan has an EXCELLENT BRAIN.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The story of a young girl in Nazi Germany, told from the perspective of Death. Not a cheery book, but oh-so-beautiful.
Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett. It’s about a very disturbing family, it doesn’t offer much in the way of hope, but it’s full of truth and gorgeousness. What a writer!

And here’s a sampling of some other favorite (non-Australian!) reads of the year:

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart. A sophomore girl at a New England boarding school, finding the Old-Boy-Network secret societies on campus distasteful, starts some secret-society-hijinks of her own that grow steadily more serious. I loved the way this book explored feminism, power, sexual dynamics; and, maybe more importantly, I loved the characters. This is a 2008 release, also up for a Young Adult Fiction Cybil.
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers. I’ve been rereading the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, and this one, in which Lord Peter works undercover in an ad agency, will always be a favorite. It’s hysterically funny, a bit magical, a bit sad, and, like all of Sayers’ stuff, a ripping good mystery.
Feed by M.T. Anderson. A dystopia that feels so achingly familiar, and a protagonist so dear, that you fall in love, and can’t bear that this world is going to end. I adore sad books, and this is one of my favorites.
Peanuts Treasury by Charles M. Schulz. This is the type of book I reach for when I’m tired of always reading like a writer. Charlie Brown & Co. get my mind off of my own work and make me feel normal for being crazy. I can never get enough Peanuts.


Here’s where I have to confess to being hopelessly out of it. I have no idea what’s coming out in 2009. I generally don’t know about new books until the buzz becomes so noisy that it forces itself through the fuzz of my brain. Luckily, I have friends and colleagues who are more observant than I am, and who sends me lists for my TBR pile; or, I go to trade shows and become aware of wonderful new books when someone places them directly into my hands. It’s hard to remain permanently uninformed when you work in the industry.

I can say, at least, that I’m looking forward to the continuations of a few series I started in 2008. For example,
Suzanne Collins’s sequel to The Hunger Games; Marie Rutkoski’s sequel to The Cabinet of Wonders; and Sarah Prineas’s sequel to The Magic Thief.


Graceling will be released in the U.K. in January of 2009. Translations of “Graceling” in various languages, most immediately Spanish, French, and Italian, will also be available in early 2009. Other language editions will follow, but I don’t know release schedules yet, so I’d better not promise anything! Finally, in the fall of 2009, Fire, a prequel-ish companion book to “Graceling”, will start trickling into bookstores. And in the meantime, I’ll continue with the writing of a book called “Bitterblue”, a sequel-ish companion book to “Graceling”, in which a sixteen-year-old Bitterblue is the protagonist.


Kristin Cashore received her M.A. at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College, and is the author of “Graceling”, a young adult fantasy novel from
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in bookstores now. “Graceling” is the author’s first novel. For more information, please visit the author's Official Blog.

NOTE: For more author responses, please visit Fantasy Book Critic's 2008 Review/2009 Preview index


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