It’s Whitney Awards Season! The Whitney Committee announced the 2012 finalists last week; you can find the complete list with pictures here. Once again, Segullah staffers will be working together to decide on our Whitney Academy vote: Rosalyn-Speculative and General; Blue-Romance; Kel-Mystery; Emily-YA Speculative; Sharlee-YA General; Sandra-Historical. Shelah will read them all (forty this year!) and vote in the Best Novel, Best Youth Novel, and Best Novel by a New Author categories. It’s something we look forward to every year.
A few changes this year: The Whitney Committee has added a new category, Middle Grade Fiction, and split the Best Novel of the Year award in the Best Adult Novel and and Best Youth Novel. This means that Whitney Academy members only need to read twenty-five books to vote for Best Adult novel, or fifteen to vote for Best Youth Novel. That makes the increased reading list a little easier, in that academy members can still vote in a Best Novel category even if they have not read all of the books.
I haven’t kept up with possible Whitney finalists as much this year as in years past, but I do have a few preliminary thoughts (some of them thanks to Segullah staffers and the comments at the end of this post at Dawning of a Brighter Day). Go look over the list linked to above before you read what I’ve got to say, though.
1-One of the first things I think about when looking through the list is “But what about [insert my favorite reads of the year here]?” In this case, I was thinking what about Courtney Miller Santo’s Roots of the Olive Tree, Luisa Perkins’ Dispirited, and Ally Condie’s Reached. I also wanted to see Sarah Dunster’s The Lightning Tree, and Theric Jepson’s Byuck. (We noticed the absence of Stephanie Black, who has won the Mystery category several times, but that’s explained more easily because she is on the Whitney committee this year and therefore not eligible to win.) It’s hard to see your favorites ignored, but I know the process of choosing finalists is extensive and as fair as possible.
2-As Theric pointed out in the comments I linked to, the way I think “what about this book?” is a good thing; it means the field of Mormon literature is getting stronger.
3-There are seven self-published books this year, more than ever before. I enjoy seeing authors return as finalists; I also love finding new writers whose work I had not been aware of previously. Self-publishing is taking off dramatically.
4-I really love this award. I’m not that in to the Oscars or the Golden Globes; I’m more into the Whitneys. I follow the authors’ careers online a little, so when J. Scott Savage publishes his first national market book (Zombie Kid, a middle grade finalist) and it makes the finals, I’m happy for him and his crazy work ethic that got him this far. I’m tickled when Tanya Parker Mills makes it back into the General Finals, since I loved her 2008 finalist The Reckoning. Annette Lyon is one of the kindest and most gracious writers out there, and I’m cheering for Paige as well. And it’s great to see Josi Kilpack represented again, since her work running the Whitneys for two years made her books not eligible this year. I could go through every category and name favorite authors in each, and I very nearly did, except the blog post was turning too epic so I scaled back to just a few. But in addition to authors I’ve come to appreciate more over time, I love discovering new writers and books I would not have noticed otherwise. I’m looking forward to the books in my category, YA Speculative, and hoping to get to as many of the others as I can.
Which of these books have you already read? Which books do you wish had made the finals?