It dawned on me just now that this is the first ALA media evaluation committee that I have served that asks me to compare mostly apples to apples. The books are all written with a teen audience in mind, they are all fiction, with (for the most part) common elements such as characterization, thematic development, plotting and pacing, etc., and in some cases they are even telling the same stories. Both Newbery and Notable Children’s Books committees demanded the members to examine a wide range of different kinds of books and with developmentally diverse audiences. BFYA asks for something different.
On the one hand, it can be tedious — especially because there are always trending or tried-and-true high concepts that turn many books into clones of each other — reading nothing but fiction titles for teens. On the other hand, it is a different kind of examination: very much like English Lit. classes or the Young Adult Lit. classes which I enjoyed tremendously in college and grad school. I can really sink my teeth deeply into figuring out why one author’s handling of a particular character is just more appealing or convincing or moving than the next author; how does one author pace the actions more effectively and keep the readers’ interest high while another author manages to lose the grip on her readers; and how consistent and appropriate a particular narrative device (present tense/police report/multiple perspectives/unreliable narrator/verses, etc.) is employed, etc.
Too many books to read, too little time. But at least now I feel that I have a slight understanding of how I should approach all the reading henceforth.