William C. Morris Award Roster: 2009

  A Curse Dark as Gold , by Elizabeth C. Bunce

A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Winner:

A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce:

Charlotte is a stubborn and likable heroine (though I predict that some people will be frustrated with her refusal to ask others for help). Curse has loads of atmosphere and the story feels familiar but, at the same time, new and different and surprising. Elizabeth C. Bunce's spin on protective circles was simple and just (I can't believe I'm about to say this, but here goes) lovely, and her Author's Note provides not only suggestions for further exploration but also her issues with the original story.

Finalists:

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore:

It's an adventure story with spot-on character development, a super-duper romantic love story (that yes, made me cry), a survival story with lots of political intrigue and yeah, there's more. It's a story about Katsa learning to form connections with people, and that she doesn't have to be ruled by anyone or anything. It's also an unputdownable page-turner that I read in one sitting and that I will read again, like maybe this weekend.

Absolute Brightness, by James Lecesne:

The book does showcase some great insights about people, like how so many people are uncomfortable with genuine, earnest emotion; or how showing vulnerability—being open about wanting to be liked or (god forbid) accepted into a group of friends or a family—is treated as a weakness.

Madapple, by Christina Meldrum:

Madapple is a story not just about a murder trial, but also about family, comparative religion and mythology, science and faith, the past and the future. It's beautifully written and the story isn't quite like anything else I've run into in the YA section. It's not an easy-breezy read—I wouldn't give it to a reluctant reader, for sure—but teens (and adults) who're interested in exploring the subjects I mentioned shouldn't miss this one. I was very happy to see that the author included a bibliography.

Me, the Missing, and the Dead, by Jenny Valentine:

Lucas' voice makes the book a pleasure to read, as does the storyline, which follows Lucas as he comes to terms with his father's disappearance and investigates the mystery behind his own strange connection with Violet Park. The periphery characters are very much that—this is Lucas' story—but they make the most of their appearances and never feel two-dimensional. I found it a really satisfying read.