Cybils--the best of last year's Science Fiction and Fantasy

The lists of nominations for the Cybils are being pulled into their final form, and us panelists are busy reading away….but before I get too involved in talking about the 2008 books that have been nominated, I thought it would be nice to take a look back to 2007, and the science fiction/fantasy books that made the shortlist that year.

This is a great list of great books that embody the qualities my fellow panelists and I are going to be looking for in this year’s crop—outstanding world building, vivid characterization, and the sort of all-engrossing appeal that makes a book one that you find yourself pressing in the hands of strangers in book stores and libraries….(well, I have found myself doing this. Sometimes it’s even appreciated). And although several of these books needed no help from the Cybils in finding readers, others were books that before their Cybilian honors had lingered more under the radar. I hope the mix of books we offer at the end of our reviewing period also has on it wonderful books that haven’t yet gotten the buzz they deserve (this is one of the points of the Cybils, after all).

The Science Fiction and Fantasy category, incidentally, is divided into two groups-- older and younger readers (my 2008 list isn’t split yet; the final one will be). I have lifted the following blurbs off of the Cybils site, where you can go to see the other shortlists of 2006 and 2007, so if anyone ever lifts these descriptions from here in turn, please do credit the original authors!

Cybils 2007 short list in Science Fiction/Fantasy

Teen/Young Adult:

Book of a Thousand Days
by Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
On her first day as a Lady’s maid, Dashti finds herself sealed in a tower for seven years with her Lady, who is being punished for refusing to marry the Lord of a neighboring land. Tight plotting, beautiful use of language and metaphor, and an engaging main character make this book a standout.
--Sheila, Wands and Worlds

by Catherine Fisher
Hodder Children’s Books (UK)
No one has been in or out of Incarceron for over 150 years. Now, a young man on the
Inside thinks he’s found the way Out--and a young woman on the Outside thinks she may
have found the way In. Success will require going up against the Warden--and Incarceron
itself. The strong writing and characterization, suspenseful narrative, and creative world
building brought this book to the top of the pack.
--Leila, Bookshelves of Doom

Northlander (Tales of the Borderlands)
by Meg Burden
Brown Barn Books
Northlander is an engaging tale which shows how hatred is only ignorance of the unknown.
Though Ellin’s gift of healing saves the Northlander king, she is feared and imprisoned. This gripping tale is both emotionally moving and thought-provoking.
--Kim Baccellia, Earrings of Ixtumea

by A. M. Jenkins
Fast-paced and sharply funny, A.M. Jenkins’ story of Kiriel--the fallen angel whose name
means “mirror of souls”--takes readers on a week-long ride in the body of an ordinary
human boy. Philosophical in a religious sense, yet untethered from any churchy elements,
this novel’s quirky appreciation of the mundane combines with a wisecracking,
personable narrative voice to create a funny yet thought-provoking novel. (For mature
--Tadmack, ReadingYA: Readers’ Rants

Skin Hunger
by Kathleen Duey
Simon & Schuster/Atheneum
Take two divergent story threads and weave them into one of the year’s darkest novels.
Add vivid characterization, a quest for knowledge beyond any cost, and magic that is
repulsive but intriguing and you have Skin Hunger.
--Tasha, Kids Lit

Elementary/Middle Grade:

The Chaos King
by Laura Ruby
The Richest Girl in the World and the son of gangster Sweetcheeks Grabowski have to find
their way back to friendship, as compelling weirdness enters their lives again in the form
of a giant squid, a super-annoying hotel heiress, an animated stone lion, and The
Chaos King--a “Sid” punk with a serious art fetish. This fast-paced, stand-alone sequel is
accessible to both middle grade and teen readers and is both funny and endearing.
--Tadmack, ReadingYA: Readers’ Rants

Into the Wild
by Sarah Beth Durst
A long time ago, all fairy-tale characters fled from their stories seeking refuge from “The
Wild,” a tangled, evil forest. Since then, Rapunzel has kept the forest under control with the help of her daughter Julie, but when it gets too powerful she is forced to depend on Julie to set aside her fears and doubts and defeat The Wild. Julie’s strong character is an inspiring example of duty, survival, and love.
--Traci, Fields of Gold

The Land of the Silver Apples
by Nancy Farmer
Simon & Schuster/Atheneum/Richard Jackson
Land of the Silver Apples has it all--adventure, fairies, old world gods, and an ancient world that is caught between belief in the Old Gods and Christianity. This standalone sequel will appeal to not only fans of Nancy Farmer but those who enjoy adventurous tales.
--Kim Baccellia, Earrings of Ixtumea

Skulduggery Pleasant
by Derek Landy
When twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley’s mysterious uncle dies, he not only bequeaths her his house, but a sticky supernatural situation and a rather dashing skeleton detective named Skulduggery Pleasant. This smart novel is full of humor, action, and a real sense of danger--and has a sly wit that would appeal to a wide age range.
--a. fortis, ReadingYA: Readers’ Rants

The True Meaning of Smekday
by Adam Rex
Nothing has been the same since the Boov invaded Earth and re-christened it Smekland. But things get even weirder when twelve year-old Gratuity Tucci embarks on a journey to find her missing mother--accompanied by her cat (named Pig), a fugitive Boov (named J.Lo) and a slightly illegal hovercar—and realizes that there’s more at stake than just her mother’s whereabouts. A hilarious satire with a touching ending and spot-on illustrations by
the author.
--a. fortis, ReadingYA: Readers’ Rants

Three sequels to books on this list have been nominated this year—Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire, Out of the Wild, by Sarah Beth Durst, and Sapphique, sequel to Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher (I’m looking forward to reading these!)

And speaking of sequels, the wait for the sequel to Skin Hunger is almost over (well, kind of). Sacred Scars will be out in paperback in the UK next June, and here in the US in hardback in August (which seems strange, but that's what fanfiction says). Anyway, here’s the cover:

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