YA Superlative Blogfest: Elements of Fiction

Behold! Glorious DAY 3 of the YA Superlative Blogfest!

Click for more info!

Be sure to check out the other participants' picks by checking the linky on Katy, Jessica, Tracey, or Alison's pages.

Today we get down into the nitty-gritty of storytelling, narrative, and settings with ELEMENTS OF FICTION, including all the books we've read that were published in 2011.

Most Wonderful World-Building: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Laini Taylor crafts Prague into a place of gothic beauty and mystery right alongside a supernatural world every bit as real and grounded.

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - It takes masterful world-building to create an alternate historical timeline, where World War I was fought with steam-powered, Clanker machines and fabricated Darwinist war beasts, and make it plausible. This is a fantastic, alternate vision of our world.
Alek & His Stormwalker (c) Keith Thompson
Secrets in the Rookery (c) Keith Thompson

  • Honorable Mention: The Island of Thisby from The Scorpio Races. This place is entirely fictional but felt like it was REAL. I could smell the salt in the air, taste the sticky-sweetness of the November cakes, and hear the screams of the capaill uisce, the pounding of their hooves. I could see the windswept cliffs and the cozy town of Skarmouth, populated by the islanders and mainland tourists. Maggie Stiefvater made me believe that somewhere in the Atlantic there really is an island where water horses wash ashore every November.

Most Formidable World (Or, the setting you most definitely would NOT want to travel to.): Wither by Lauren DeStefano - Girls die by age 20 in this world. So there is the constant threat of being kidnapped and sold into marriages or worse. Also, since we're both over 20, we'd both be dead.  We want to live, dammit.

Wanderlust-Inducing (Or, the setting you'd happily travel to.): Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Prague! Not only is it a beautiful city, but the way Laini Taylor writes it the place is old art and fine history and silver winter haze.  Besides, a lot of the books we read this year were dystopians and, let's face it, we'd rather not subject ourselves to the rigors of a futuristic totalitarian society.

Thx for the Prague montage, Wikipedia.
Loveliest Prose: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Can you tell we love this book? Basically, we wish we could write like this.
Fairy-tale city. From the air, red rooftops hug a kink in a dark river, and by night the forested hills appear as spans of black nothing against the dazzle of the lit castle, the spiking Gothic towers, the domes great and small. The river captures all the lights and teases them out, long and wavering, and the side-slashing rain blurs it all to a dream.

This was Akiva's first sight of Prague...

Best First Line: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater -
It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
Most Dynamic Main Character: TRIS from Divergent by Veronica Roth - Tris's character development is clear-cut, realistic, and none too easy--every choice she makes is a hard one and they only get harder and harder throughout the book, forcing her to grow and change.

Most Jaw-Dropping Finale: Delirium by Lauren Oliver - We had some mixed feelings and mixed reactions to this book in general but all that aside, the climax remains astounding, astonishing, and powerful, a literary punch in the gut. It left us breathless.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role: ALAN from Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan / FOUR from Divergent by Veronica Roth - Alan, as you may already be able to tell, is one of our favorite people ever. He is sweet, kind, caring, decent-ish, although he does lie a lot and engage in morally and ethically questionable activities--usually for the sake of family and friends though. Four is tough, hardened by his past as much as his present, and yet within he is also a decent guy. We just really appreciate decency and character development, apparently.

Best Use of Theme: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - This book is everything I (Krispy) wanted and hoped it would be. It's a story of a place and a community, of a way of life, of a girl and her horse and her struggle to keep her family together, of a boy and his horse and the true bond between them. It's about wanting and needing, about tradition and breaking tradition, about sacrifice and bravery and loyalty and love. With the island of Thisby as their backdrop and the races as their shared goal, Puck and Sean's story lines compliment each other, teasing out everything they care about and everything Thisby is to them.

I can't put it better than the lovely Erin Bowman, who not only put this book on my radar but gave me my own copy of it (I won her giveaway):

"What an absolutely beautiful story about love and sacrifice and the things that bind us together..."

  • Honorable mentions: Daughter of Smoke and Bone for its interweaving of hope, magic, and the need to belong somewhere even if its among monsters. Divergent for its exploration of selflessness and bravery, flaws and virtues, and the complicated paths of family and self-discovery.

And lo, those are our choices for best elements of fiction.  What are your picks?

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the Superlatives blogfest! The topic? Best in Show! (Side note from Alz: Krispy is still freaking out over Scorpio Races even as we blog this. I need to read it.)

Superlative Blogfest RECAP:
Head of Class


Laurie Dennison said...

We had lots of the same choices today! That opening line of The Scorpio Races was the best. I didn't remember it word for word without looking, but I remembered that it shook me from the minute I read it.

Katy Upperman said...

Great choices today! I chose WITHER as my Most Formidable Setting as well. :) And now, knowing that DELIRIUM has a jaw-dropping ending, I want to read it even more!

Jessica Love said...

Good choices! I agree about Wither...being dead by 20 and spending your years before that being in a polygamous marriage? BARF.

And OH MAN I want to go to Prague so bad. I have a good friend who moved there over the summer, so I would totally have a place to stay, too. I need to make this happen. Too bad the Poison Kitchen isn't real.

Marquita Hockaday said...

Yeah, I definitely feel like I need to read Scorpio Races now, too!

Anonymous said...

Wow, quite a few like Scorpio Races. I guess I need to add that one to my list now. :-)

Tracey Neithercott said...

Yes, that ending to Delirium! A literary punch in the gut is exactly how it felt. It's because of that awesome ending that I really wish Delirium was a stand-alone book instead of book one of a series. I'm not sure the story will be as powerful if it continues after that ending. I hope I'm wrong...

Alison Miller said...

Okay, MUST READ Scorpio Races. Must.

T.D. McFrost said...

Hot damn! I missed out on a fun blogfest! Please email me whenever you have another one, I'd very much like to be a part of it.

You can count me as a new minion, as I love your blog a whole lot.

Oh, and might I add one irrelevant thing? All of you ladies in this comment section are SMOKIN' HOT! God was in a extratastic mood when he made you gals!

My god, I need a shower! >_<

Golden Eagle said...

I loved the ending to Delirium. I wasn't sure I would like the book at all when I was mid-way, but the ending definitely changed the way I saw it.

I just put Daughter of Smoke and Bone on hold from the library; it sounds like a must-read . . .

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Nice choices. I need to read Goliath already.