I was tagged by Carrie at The Book Goddess to play Bookish Academy Awards Tag. To make it more difficult on myself, I only picked books that I’ve read or reread this year. I’ve read a lot of Stephen King, so we should just call these The Stephen King Academy Awards. If you’re interested in doing this tag, consider yourself tagged and leave a link to your answers in the comments. I’d love to see them.
My Bookish Academy Awards
Best Actor (Best Male Protagonist): Crake
Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future.
Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey—with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake—through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
If you didn’t know that I was going to pick Crake, you obviously haven’t clicked on this blog very often. He’s one of my favorite fictional characters ever.
Best Actress (Best Female Protagonist): Cath Avery
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Cath is so funny and awkward and relatable. I love her.
Best Cinematography (Best Plot Twist): Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
This book has so many twists. My favorite one is when Wade meets Aech in real life. I didn’t see that coming.
Best Costume Design (Best Book Cover): Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
This cover has so much detail. It’s impossible to see it all on a computer screen. Also, blue is my favorite color, and this book is very blue.
Best Supporting Actress and Actor (Best Male and Female Sidekick): Cuthbert Allgood and Susan Delgado
Wizard and Glass – Stephen King
Roland and his band of followers have narrowly escaped one world and slipped into the next. There Roland tells them a tale of long-ago love and adventure involving a beautiful and quixotic woman named Susan Delgado. And there they will be drawn into an ancient mystery of spellbinding magic and supreme menace.
This is my favorite Dark Tower book. (I know that’s an unpopular opinion. Everyone seems to hate this one), but I think Cuthbert and Susan are much more interesting than Eddie and Susannah.
Best Original Screenplay (Most Unique Plot/World): The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Gunslinger – Stephen King
In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.
The Dark Tower universe is one of the best fictional universes ever. It’s so detailed.
Best Adapted Screenplay (Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation): The Green Mile by Stephen King
The Green Mile – Stephen King
At Cold Mountain Penitentiary, along the lonely stretch of cells known as the Green Mile, killers such as the psychopathic "Billy the Kid" Wharton and the possessed Eduard Delacroix await death strapped in "Old Sparky." Here guards as decent as Paul Edgecombe and as sadistic as Percy Wetmore watch over them. But good or evil, innocent or guilty, none have ever seen the brutal likes of the new prisoner, John Coffey, sentenced to death for raping and murdering two young girls. Is Coffey a devil in human form? Or is he a far, far different kind of being?
I didn’t read this book this year, but I did re-watch the movie. Unlike most book-to-movie adaptations, it doesn’t suck. Both the book and movie are amazing.
Best Animated Feature (A book that would work well in animated format): Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.
It’s probably cheating to pick a book that’s already an animated movie. This is a fun book that would make a creepy cartoon. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve heard it’s good.
Best Director (A writer you discovered for the first time): V.E. Schwab
I read A Darker Shade of Magic and then immediately bought Vicious. I can’t wait for the ADSOM sequel.
Best Visual Effects (Best Action in a Book): A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure.'
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.
That ending is crazy. I need the next book now.
Best Short Film (Best Novella or Short Book): The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J.K. Rowling
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairytales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.
It’s very short, and it makes me miss Harry Potter.
Best Documentary (Best Historical Fiction or Non-Fiction): The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan
Richard Flanagan's story of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife, journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho's travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.
I don’t read much historical fiction, so this was my only choice for the award. It is a very good book, though.