The year 2016 may not have been great for celebrities NOT dying, but it was another good year for literature. It’s time to announce the winners of the 2016 Troxellian Literature Awards! All winners were chosen by me and the results are based on nothing more than my whims and fancies. Novels and graphic novels are fair game in all categories as long as I read it within the calendar year. Here are the awards!
The “WOOHOO” Award
This award goes to the book that I had the most fun reading during the year. And the Troxell goes to…
Old Man Logan by Mark Miller
For the second year in a row this award goes to a graphic novel, and I suspect it usually will since graphic novels, by nature, are just more fun than basic books. I loved Old Man Logan. I always enjoy non-traditional approaches to the superhero genre. Is there a better set-up in all of comics? Here’s a story that takes place years after the Bad Guys have beaten all the good guys in the Marvel Universe. There’s an old pacifist Wolverine, President Red Skull, and an in-bred Hulk family. What more could you ask for?
Honorable mention: Malice Chris Wooding
The “HULK OUT!!!” Award
This award goes to the book that pissed me off the most because I was expecting it to be good…and then it totally wasn’t. And the Troxell goes to…
Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick
Last year Philip K. Dick won my most prestigious award with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I proclaimed that I had found a new favorite author and looked forward to reading his entire collection. Then I read Man in the High Castle, an alternate history tale where the Axis Powers win World War II…and that was pretty much the end of the love affair. I loved the concept, but it was boring and totally forgettable. I was all excited because I was going to watch the Amazon show after finishing the book and blah! I no longer like Dick…wait…
Dishonorable mentions: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!” Award (formally the Tap Out award)
This award goes to the book that I quit reading the fastest. And the Troxell goes to…
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
I had heard nothing but good things about the Uglies YA series. It was even on a short list for the sophomore curriculum at the school where I teach. Geez, did we dodge a bullet! The concept sounded cool (a society where teenagers are all made to be beautiful on their 16th birthday), but the writing was total rubbish. Just a total paint-by-numbers plot with cardboard characters. I made it through two chapters. Then I decided, much like that woman from the famous internet video, “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”
Dishonorable Mention: Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
The “‘Didn’t See That Comin’” Award
This award goes to a book I enjoyed way more than I expected to. And the Troxell goes to…
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Every year I try to read at least one Stephen King book. I love his early work, but then there’s a steep drop-off once he hits his Alcoholic Phase. This year I decided to spend my summer tackling his monstrosity, Under the Dome. Like most of his work, it was overly long and full of cardboard cut-out stock characters, but you know what? I really enjoyed it regardless of its flaws. It’s a cool concept (place a clear dome over a small town and see what happens) that plays out well, and, even though I hated the ending (The whole time I kept saying “Please don’t be aliens, please don’t be aliens…) I enjoyed my reading experience. Watchmen gets the honorable mention only because I’ve read it previously but I loved it as much as the first time. Awesome stuff.
Honorable Mention: Watchmen by Alan Moore
The “Gonorrhea” Award
This award goes to the book that I read the PREVIOUS year that has stayed with me two years later…much like an STD that just won’t go away. And the Troxell goes to…
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This is kind of cheating because I teach this book now so I had to reread it again this year so of course it stayed with me because it literally stayed with me. Still, it’s a great read and I dug even deeper into it the second go-around. I also read Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and that was solid, too. Sherman Alexie is good stuff. Can’t wait to read him again next year!
The “Fountain of Youth” Award
This award goes to the best YA book I read this year. And the Troxell goes to…
Malice by Chris Wooding
Since I teach high school teens I’m always looking for books for young gentlemen who tell me with such pride that they HATE READING. Usually the book that I can recommend to those readers wins this award. This year it goes to Malice, which is this really innovative series that is part novel, part graphic novel (My two favorite things! Combined!). It’s about a young gentleman who finds this cursed comic that traps its readers inside its pages. Then he has to get out! Lots of action and adventure. Cool concept. It works.
Honorable Mention: After the Snow by S.D. Crocket
The “THAT’S THE STUFF” Award
This award goes to the best book I read during the year that was the equivalent of literary heroin. And the Troxell goes to…
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’ve wanted to reread the entire Lord of the Rings epic for a while now. The last time I read it I was in my early 20s hiding in the storage room of The Dollar General with the book because I could not put it down. This year I was working on an epic quest novel so it gave me the perfect excuse to read the entire epic all over again. I knew Lord of the Rings would win this award back in March because, seriously, what’s going to be better than Lord of the Rings? It made the whole thing totally anticlimactic. I’m forcing myself to choose only one book so I’m going with Two Towers. Fellowship is a lot of set-up and really by the time I got to Return I was worn out so Two Towers gets the duke. I don’t think I have to explain why Lord of the Rings wins. Best underdog story of all-time. Best epic quest novel of all-time. The whole thing was really unfair to everything else I read during the year soooooo…
The “WOULD HAVE WON THE ‘THAT’S THE STUFF’ AWARD IF I HADN’T READ LORD OF THE RINGS THIS YEAR”Award
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? by Peter Hedges
I’ve always loved the movie. I showed it at the end of last school year after my sophomores had finished reading Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Since there’s no movie for that novel I showed WEGG? to go along with the special needs theme. It was way better than I remembered. Then I found out there was a novel. So I read it. And it was amazingly awesome. It was everything that’s great about the movie and so much more. The characters are more fleshed out and the plot more complex. It’s sad, it’s funny, it’s simple mid-America literature. I love the struggle between obligation and self-actualization. Certainly something a lot of us can relate to (especially the parents/writers out there). If you’ve never read the novel, I highly recommend it.
So there you have it! Another year in literature. If you’re looking for trends, I suspect dystopian literature is going to be very big in 2017 with Trump taking office. To another great year of great books!