2011 Printz Award Winners

So, my last post was all about how I intended to write more and sooner about the books I had read, and yet here it is, however many weeks (um, months…) later, and I haven’t written another word. I’m going to just post about all of the 2011 books in one go (I’ve still been reading). And then move on.  (In April 2015, I started reading all of the Michael L. Printz award winning books. Here‘s a summary of what I’ve read and what I have left).

2011 Winner

7095831Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi — I don’t think I would have picked this up on my own without the Printz Project. I’m a little weary of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction and I had trouble getting into it, but over the past few days, it’s been hard to put down. It’s pretty horrifying and brutal, but compelling. The world-building is quite original and well done and the main character, Nailer, is very likeable. (4/5 stars)

Honor Books

Stolen by Lucy Christopher — I did not care for this book. I didn’t like the story, I didn’t care about the characters, I disliked being manipulated by the author. I know that’s ironic, because so many times, that’s what’s going on: the author wants you to feel something, and in this case, I didn’t like what she wanted me to feel. (1/5 stars)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  by A.S. King — I gave this one 4/5 stars on Goodreads when I finished it. Apparently, it didn’t make much of an impression, because it hasn’t stuck with me. I’m reading a few of the other reviews and I just don’t remember many of the details, or even what I really thought of it. I guess I do remember the narrator having the kind of humor I like to read.

Revolver written by Marcus Sedgwick — Short, very spare, and thought-provoking. Yet another book I would have never picked up if not for this project, but I have liked everything by this author that I have read (and I see that he won in 2014 and is on the honored list for 2016).  (4/5 stars)

Nothing written by Janne Teller – Thankfully, this was a quick read.

I try to make a distinction between “this isn’t for me” and “this was terrible” when I read books that I don’t care for. I’m trying very hard not to lean towards the latter on this one, but considering that this book won tons of awards, I guess I’ll stick with the former.

It was a bit of a train-wreck kind of an experience. I couldn’t look away and the direction this book took was all kinds of messed up. I had a hard time suspending disbelief (these were 7th graders? even if they are a year older than US 7th graders, really??), and I wonder if some of the writing style worked better in the original Danish, because some of the writing was very jarring. (1/5 stars)


So, either I liked the book or I loathed it for this batch. Nothing really in between. Ship Breaker and really anything by Marcus Sedgwick are definitely recommended.

Suzanne’s Printz Reading Project — 2010 Winner Summary

I have now read 52 books in this crazy project. I was telling someone yesterday that I was struggling to get through the book I was (then) currently reading — but I *had* to finish it, no matter what, because of this completely arbitrary goal I had set myself.

I did finish that book (The Monstrumologist), and now I’m ready for the 2011 honored books.

The 2010 honored books were a less than stellar bunch for me, personally. I greatly disliked one of them (Punkzilla), one was a reread and didn’t really hold up to a second reading (Going Bovine). The biography of Charles Darwin was OK, but I was underwhelmed by it.

Only one was something that I really enjoyed, and would highly recommend (Tales of the Madman Underground), but only for older teens/adults.

When I started this reading project, I had in mind that I was going to also take the time to write more about what I was reading, and my thoughts, and I have found that that goal has not really taken off. I’m such a fast reader, which is not always a good thing, that I’m through a book and on to the next 4 before I take the time to contemplate. I’m not sure what I could do to change that (or if I even want to). I have thought about trying to take notes while I read, but I suspect that I’d remember for about 3 pages and then next thing I know, I’ll be 100 pages further along.

Oh — gotta go. I hear a list of books calling my name……..

“The Monstrumologist” by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist Book Cover The Monstrumologist
Rick Yancey
Juvenile Fiction
Simon and Schuster
September 22, 2009

2010 Michael L Printz Honor Book

A monster-hunting doctor and his apprentice face off against a plague of monsters in the first book of a terrifying series. Publishers Weekly says “horror lovers will be rapt.”

These are the secrets I have kept. So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor in nineteenth-century New England, Will has grown accustomed to his late-night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was eating her, Will’s world changes forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagus—a headless monster that feeds through a mouth in its chest—and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to overtake and consume the world…before it is too late. The Monstrumologist is the first stunning gothic adventure in a series that combines the terror of HP Lovecraft with the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Dear book,

It’s me, not you. I think I can see why you won lots of awards, but you didn’t do it for me. I didn’t really care about your characters, and apparently I’m not as much of a fan of horror as I used to be, because now I’m grossed out and might have trouble sleeping tonight because of you.



“Tales of the Madman Underground” by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman Underground Book Cover Tales of the Madman Underground
John Barnes
Juvenile Fiction

2010 Michael L Printz Honor Book


Tales of the Madman Underground


Tales of the Madman Underground

Wednesday, September 5, 1973: The first day of Karl Shoemaker's senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl's been part of what he calls "the Madman Underground" - a group of kids forced (for no apparent reason) to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act - and be - Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has five after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored rollercoaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker

This big book was a little scary to start, the cover material did not make it sound like a book that I would enjoy, and it was a long one to boot. It was also a little slow to start, and I let myself get distracted by a couple of other things. Once I got going, and really got into it, though, I was hooked on Karl Shoemaker’s story.

Fair warning: there’s quite a bit of profanity, and he is a teenage boy who thinks a lot about girls. It’s also set in the 70s and there’s a lot of horrible stuff that happens to Karl and his friends. I know, I know. I’m really selling it here.

The stuff that makes the book so good is that Karl is a wonderful character. He’s not perfect, but I really loved him, and while there’s a lot of heartbreaking and scary situations, there’s a lot of hope and friendship and beautiful writing.

I would have chosen this over “Going Bovine” as the winner of the Printz award, personally. Definitely recommended to older teens and adults.

“Going Bovine” by Libba Bray

Going Bovine Book Cover Going Bovine
Libba Bray
Juvenile Fiction
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers

2010 Michael L Printz Award Winner

In an attempt to find a cure after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob (aka mad cow) disease, Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old boy, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital.

“Going Bovine” is a strange trip of a book. I read this a few years ago, probably close to when it was first published. I enjoyed a lot of it, but frankly, I felt like there was too much of it for me. It’s based on “Don Quixote” and like it’s source material, the adventures ramble on. And on.

I’m also thinking that the emotional impact of the story was lessened by the fact that it was a reread. This might have also been why it felt so long: I knew what was coming, and kept checking the progress meter (I read an ebook this time), wondering if I was done yet.

I can see why it won many awards, and the message about what it means to actually live, and not just exist, is something more of us need to think about. Even though I had a bit of a struggle getting through it, I think a first time reader would get more out of it, and I would definitely recommend it to teenage readers.