It's been really fun to see a growing interest in mysteries and thrillers for middle grade readers and teens over the last couple of years. We've come a long way since Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys (don't get me wrong, I will always have a place in my heart for these series that started my own love of mysteries), particularly with psychological thrillers now being written for a young adult audience. The Edgar Awards for the best mysteries and thrillers was recently announced and below are this year's winners for Best Juvenile and Young Adult along with links to the finalists.
Edgar Award Winner: Best Young Adult
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Sadie was one of our top editors' picks in young adult for 2018, so I was really happy to see it win the Edgar Award! I read Sadie in one sitting--Courtney Summers knows how to reel you in and hold you there with her story. Sadie is told in alternating dual narratives: Sadie, a 17-year-old girl who takes herself off the grid to hunt down her sister's killer, and West McCray, a podcast journalist doing a piece on the murdered girl and his search for her missing older sister (Sadie). Think NPR's podcast Serial. Sadie is street smart and can be ruthless when she needs to be, but she's also a young woman on her own, who's little sister was murdered. I kept forgetting that Sadie is fiction because it reads like true crime, and Summers delivers a knockout ending to this award winner.
Best Young Adult Finalists:
- Contagion by Erin Bowman
- Blink by Sasha Dawn
- After the Fire by Will Hill
- A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
Edgar Award Winner: Best Juvenile:
Otherwood by Pete Hautman
Created for a middle grade audience (ages 8-12), Otherwood is told through the dual narratives of 9-year-old Stuey and his best friend Elly Rose. After Elly Rose moves to town the two quickly bond around a number of things, including a tie between their great-grandfathers--arch enemies who both disappeared on the same day. Otherwood is a mystery with a supernatural angle--an overgrown patch of woods that is some kind of link to a parallel reality and into which Elly Rose disappears. For Elly Rose, though, it's Stuey who has disappeared, and it's crazy to see how life in each place--the same place, but not--unfolds.
Hautman does a fantastic job creating a mystery and ghost story that shows young readers how immersive a book can be. Thinking about what an alternate version of the same life could look like is fascinating stuff, and Otherwood also offers surprising links and unexpected twists. This Edgar winner (and the finalists, for that matter) are perfect for summer, when kids need a book that really grabs their attention.
Best Juvenile Finalists:
- Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott
- Zap! by Martha Freeman
- Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective by A.B. Greenfield
- Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
- Charlie & Frog: A Mystery by Karen Kane
- Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon
You might also like:
- More posts on kids and young adult books
- Editors' picks for the Best Kids' Books of the Month
- Editors' picks in Young Adult
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