[DWJ] Best of 2008

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Mon Dec 22 03:40:54 EST 2008

Okay, I'll bite. Not all these books are new from this year, but these are
the books that I personally most enjoyed reading in the past year:

"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow: the editor-in-chief actually bought the
translation rights to this without consulting me and I was a bit miffed, but
then I read it and forgave him. It is didactic, and full of paragraphs that
are basically non-fiction: long descriptions of the mathematics of encoding
or the history of the civil rights movement in America. But the plot has
enough momentum to carry off digressions of this sort, and the overall
effect is to create an impression that this is a smart, informed book. It's
the sort of book that makes you want to learn more, and think more, and try
out your ideas in the real world. I liked that it was honest to goodness YA
science fiction, based on technology that either already exists or is merely
a heartbeat away. The social/political conjectures may be a bit far fetched,
but only a bit. It's a good read and it makes you think, and I like it.
There are some strong scenes involving abuse of political prisoners, and a
bit of teenage sex towards the end, that clearly mark this as a book for the
older side of the YA range.
In answer to your question, Deborah, no I won't be translating this book
because I've decided not to translate for my own series. I can't be
publisher, editor AND translator: we need more checks and balances in place.
But we have a very good translator lined up (who also translated "The
Homeward Bounders" for us, for publication later this year). It was she who
introduced us to Cory Doctorow in the first place and made us promise to
hire her if ever we publish one of his books.

"Epic" by Connor Kostick I've just read at Farah's recommendation (thanks,
Farah!) and it was brilliant, another honest to goodness YA Science Fiction
book. Great ideas, great plot. Reminded me of "Ender's Game" but more
optimistic throughout.

"Verdigris Deep" or "Well Witched" by Frances Hardinge, just in case I
haven't recommended it here yet, was one of the DWJiest books I've read. It
most reminded me of "The Time of the Ghost" and of "Wilkin's Tooth".
Hardinge's "Fly by Night" is another book we've already translated into
Hebrew and should be published later this year.

"Dragon Slippers" by Jessica Day George was a surprisingly refreshing twist
on the old girl-meets-dragon plot. A good, fun book. I didn't like the
sequel quite as much, and was downright dissapointed by George's newest
book, a retelling of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon": there just
weren't enough new ideas to flesh out the fairytale, in my opinion. But I
did very much enjoy another retelling of sorts of a variation on the same
fairytale: "Scatterheart" by Lili Wilkinson (hi Lili!) was a wonderful,
gripping read. A historical bodice ripper, lots of trials and tribulation,
beautifully written.

"Devilish" by Maureen Johnson was great fun. The setup is fantastic, the end
was a bit dissappointing, too pat and abrupt, but FUNNY. Girl sells her soul
to the devil in a catholic girls' school. Very Buffy with the snappy
dialogue. Maureen Johnson is made of awesome and her blog is really funny

I also enjoyed other books I've read this year but am a little fed up with
trilogies and the "vampire next door" genre: "Mooncalled" by Patricia Briggs
was fun, "City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare was deliciously gothic, I will
read the sequels when I get the chance.

Oh, and "Larklight" and "Mothstorm" by Philip Reeve, those were fun too, if
a bit arch. For younger YA readers.

-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2008 10:40 PM
To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
Subject: Re: [DWJ] Best of 2008

Mass response on a snowy day:

On Mon, 15 Dec 2008, Elizabeth Evans wrote:
> I'm grateful for some good reading to look out for over the summer (here
> in New Zealand). It will make a nice change from reading about the
> management of preservation in libraries and archives. (Sigh.)

Aw. Management of preservation and libraries and archives is FUN.
Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself. But since I
probably originally compiled  this list instead of, you know,
managing preservation of libraries and archives, I wouldn't
recommend listening to me.

On Sun, 14 Dec 2008, Gili Bar-Hillel wrote:
> It just so happens we've
> already bought the translation rights for Little Brother

Ooh, are you going to be the translator?

On Sun, 21 Dec 2008, Mark Allums wrote:
> Can we comment about these here?  And top post?  :)

That's what makes it fun!

> I am not too keen on Cory Doctorow.  I don't know if I would want to
> introduce a child to him.  I guess it depends a bit on how one feels
> about Marxists.  (Quasi-Marxists, anyway.)

I'm not as sure of his politics as Farah is, but this is
definitely a very libertarian book. Antiauthoritarian, anyway.
It's thinly veiled polemic, but the characters are well enough
developed and the storyline has enough tension to make up for the
fact that they are all just an excuse for the didactic structure
of the text. Also, the book has the dubious distinction of being
the only novel I've ever read that made me make a charitable
donation (to the Electronic Frontier Foundation) immediately upon
finishing the book. It was frightening.

> Zoe's Tale should be good; Scalzi can write.  Some may not care for the
> work (the work aimed at adults will not appeal to everyone), but for the
> most part, what he does, he does well.

Interesting thing about Zoe's Tale is that it didn't make me want
to read the other books in the series. What it made me want was
for Scalzi to write more young adult books, preferably spinning
off from this one. But I certainly don't want to read the same
story told from an adult point of view. I liked it as a young
adult text in a way I think I wouldn't have liked it as an adult

On Sun, 21 Dec 2008, Ehsan Roudiani wrote:
> I've recently read 'The Master of the Fallen Chairs' by Henry Porter,
> and liked that a lot. Cracking premise which I won't spoil and only
> really one criticism which would be a spoiler but didn't ruin it at all.

Fooey, looks like there isn't an American edition or a copy in any
American libraries. So much for my belief that interlibrary loan
will never fail me.

I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little
called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller
called Uber Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get
cuckoo clock repaired. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around
talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get
ideas from them. -- Dr. Seuss

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