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Teen talk: Meet the 2015 Inky Awards judges

Each year, the longlist and shortlist for the Inky Awards for youth literature are selected by a panel of teen judges, with the winners determined via an online vote. Following the announcement of this year’s winners, Books+Publishing spoke to six of the 2015 judges about the judging process and their reading habits. Visit Inside a Dog for more on each of the judges.

(Photo L-R: Phoebe, Oliver, Melanie, Genevieve and Jaimee.)

What book are you reading now?

Genevieve, 15: Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer (Rick Riordan, Puffin).

Jaimee, 14: I am currently reading Traci Harding’s Masters of Reality: The Gathering (HarperVoyager).

Jordan, 16: The Metaphysics by Aristotle.

Melanie, 15: Illuminae (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, A&U)! Just two words: FREAKING. EPIC.

Oliver, 13: Slated by Teri Terry (Orchard Books).

Phoebe, 14: I am currently reading the first draft of my sister’s book and The Iron King (Julie Kagawa, Mira).

If you were a character from a book you’d be …

Jaimee, 14: I would want to be the humorous sidekick in a novel.

Jordan, 16: The protagonist’s friend, who doesn’t get a lot of page-time until the climax, where I give sage advice that brings them out of their plot-driven (or author-driven) stupor.

Melanie, 15: I’d probably be a mix of Anne from Anne of Green Gables, Hermione Granger from ‘Harry Potter’ and Cath from Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell, Macmillan). A total book nerd, full-time fangirl and introvert.

Oliver, 13: Levi from Fangirl. He seems like a nice guy that is smart and treats his friends nicely.

Phoebe, 14: I would love to be Gwyneth Shepherd from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (St Martin’s Press). I would love to be a time-traveller, as I love history and mysteries.

How do you choose what to read?

Genevieve, 15: Good reviews are a must. Also, an interesting blurb and an appealing front cover (sue me).

Jaimee, 14: What makes me want to read a particular book is whether the story really stands out to me. I always like to read something different or crazy, and if the story sounds like that I’ll read it.

Jordan, 16: I often read books based on recommendations from people I trust, but other than that I’ll read something that seems original. Also, I sometimes base interest on the cover (gasp!).

Melanie, 15: I’m simple and shallow—the cover! It’s always what catches my attention first and makes me want to pick up the book to find out more, but I’ll make my final judgement after reading the synopsis.  

Oliver, 13: When I am scanning the library shelf for my next book the title draws me in, then the front cover sets the idea for what the book might be about. Then the blurb finalises whether I want to read it or not.

Phoebe, 14: I decide to read a particular book by looking at its synopsis. I love a book that has a unique plot and interesting characters.

What do you think YA needs more of? And what could it do with less of?

Genevieve, 15: I believe YA needs more original ideas and less unrealistic love triangles and character stereotypes.

Jaimee, 14: I have just gotten back into fantasy and science-fiction after a lot of contemporary YA, so I think I would like to see more fantasy and maybe a little less of contemporary.

Jordan, 16: It could do with more male protagonists in contemporary novels and with fewer dystopias; even though the good stories are brilliant, they’re diluted within the sea of carbon copies.

Melanie, 15: More diverse characters that are not there just for the sake of having a ‘diverse book’. And while I do love romance in books, I feel like every single YA book includes a romance these days as if it is an essential plot point.  

Oliver, 13: I think that YA needs more male protagonists. All the shortlisted Inky books have a female protagonist.

Phoebe, 14: I think YA books need more characters that we can relate to emotionally and less stereotypical characters (eg the ‘Mary Sue’).

If the main characters from all of this year’s Inky-shortlisted books were thrown into the Hunger Games, who would win?

Genevieve, 15: One of the girls from Razorhurst (Justine Larbalestier, A&U). They’re independent and know their way around a fight.

Jaimee, 14: Evie from Spark. She has a very big advantage as she has enhanced human strength, speed and other special abilities that would ultimately lead to her victory.

Jordan, 16: Baz from Fangirl (because he’s [spoiler] a wizard and a vampire).

Melanie, 15: Evie from Spark (Rachael Craw, Walker Books). She’s got some badass moves and would probably kick everyone else’s ass.

Oliver, 13: I’m going to go for the obvious answer here: Evie from Spark. With her heightened senses and quick combat she would almost certainly win.

Phoebe, 14: Evie from Spark because she has amazing reflexes and would instantly know what to do in any situation.

As a judge, what do you look for in a book when deciding on the shortlist?

Genevieve, 15: You definitely need to look for books that appeal not only to yourself, but to other YA readers. What I ask myself is, ‘would my friends who don’t usually read pick up this book?’

Jaimee, 14: The biggest factor for me was whether the book had a lot of originality. If the story was something I hadn’t seen or read before, I was most likely to want it on the shortlist.

Jordan, 16: There were several criteria, but I mainly based my judging on originality, characterisation and the ‘voice’ of the novel. A mixture of objectivity and subjectivity was given, but identifying what the group wanted to see in the shortlist helped everyone in creating a balanced judgement.

Melanie, 15: Originality is definitely high on my list along with realistic and honest characters.

Oliver, 13: We judge a book on how the characters are—if they are realistic or not; how good the description of the world surrounding the characters is; and the plot—whether it is engaging or not. That’s just to name a few.

Phoebe, 14: We look for five criteria: originality, quality, voice, character, and readability. I personally look more for originality and voice, as I believe those two are very important.

What’s your favourite books website or blog?

Jaimee, 14: I don’t actually go onto many book websites or blogs but two of my favourites are Inside a Dog and Hit the Road Jacq.

Jordan, 16: Polandbananasbooks.

Melanie, 15: * whispers * Am I allowed to say my own blog? Heh … I love too many that it would just be cruel to just name one or two.

Oliver, 13: Goodreads because it recommends you books.

Phoebe, 14: My favourite book websites have to be Inside a Dog and Goodreads. They give you all the information you need to know about a book.

In 50 years’ time books will be …

Genevieve, 15: Hopefully they have holographic front covers or something. What I hope will not happen is that all books are in the form of ebooks. That would kill me.

Jaimee, 14: I am a firm believer in having my books in physical form when reading and I hope that in 50 years’ time they will still be around and not all in ebooks.

Jordan, 16: Downloaded directly to people’s brains, but I’m an optimist, so print books will still be around.

Melanie, 15: STILL FABULOUS AS EVER. NO TECHNOLOGY IS BRINGING US DOWN. (I would hope.) (This should become my life mission along with making the whole world read the genius that is the ‘Percy Jackson’ series… )

Oliver, 13: Hopefully paper books still exist because I think ebooks aren’t that good and a book is nice to hold.

Phoebe, 14: Hopefully still around in physical form and not just electronically. They may also be a lot more diverse in their plot, as we are evolving all the time.



Category: Features