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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Goodreads Choice Awards 2019: My Thoughts

It’s that time of year again: the time of retrospectives and best-off-the-year list. For me, as an avid Goodreads user, the Goodreads Choice Awards are always one of the lists I keep a close eye on. For anyone unfamiliar; the Goodreads Choice Awards is a yearly award program, where users vote on their favourite books published that year within a particular genre. This year, there are 20 categories, some of which can overlap, meaning that a book could theoretically win in more than one category. Although I follow voting rounds closely, and always vote for me personal favourites as well, I have a hate-love-relationship with this program, as I often tend to disagree with the results. The winner is chosen purely based on popular vote, which automatically means that the winners are always the most mainstream books, and lesser known gems tend to be skipped over. That doesn’t, however, mean that the winners aren’t worth your time. In fact: chances are great that you’ll find a new favourite of the year among these winners for yourself. This years winners will be announced on December 3rd 2019, which means that at the time of posting this, the final rounds are still open for voting. You can cast your vote via the link at the bottom of this post. Still, I wanted to already share my opinion on this years finalists for the 8 categories I voted in this year. Which book got my vote, which do I predict will win, and what book that wasn’t nominated would I add to the list?


The Nominees:

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

  • Where the Forest Meets The Stars by Glendy Vanderah

  • A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombargo

  • Queenie by Candice Carty Williams

  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

  • Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Personal favourite (not nominated): 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Predicted Winner: The Testaments

My most read genre, and the one to give rise to most of my favourites of the year in 2019… Where on the one hand I struggled picking what book to give my vote to, on the other hand it was perfectly clear to me which one deserved to win most. In the end, I gave my vote to Ocean Vuongs On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, even though that wasn’t my personal favourite novel of the year. That title goes to Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. The reason for that however, is extremely personal to me, my personal experiences this year, and how beautifully this book connected to that. “Objectively” speaking, I think On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is the better written novel. Ocean Vuong has a voice like none that I’ve read before: treading the line between poetry and prose, every line in this book is a work of art. It’s truly wonderful, and deserves to win all the awards this year. That being said, I don’t predict it will… If I were to put money on a winner, it would either be The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, mostly because it has the advantage of piggy backing of the huge success of its predecessor, or Normal People by Sally Rooney. Not to mention the incredible media coverage both of them got, I don’t think many of the lesser known nominees will be able to compete. If I could have added a nominee to the list, I feel 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shakaf would deserve the spot. Like Ocean Vuongs work, this one is beautifully written and left a deep impression on me after I finished it.

Fantasy The Nominees:

  • Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

  • The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

  • Fire and Blood by George Martin

  • Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

  • The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare

  • Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

My vote: Middlegame

Personal favourite (not nominated): Out of all the fantasy novels this year, I would have picked Middlegame, so I honestly don’t have one.

Predicted Winner: The Winter of the Witch

2019’s fantasy list is the one wherefrom I’ve read the most novels, and although I’m very sure about my personal favourite, I hesitate to predict a “favourite of the public”. For me, Middlegame was always going to win, regardless of what it would be up against. It’s one of my favourite fantasy novels I’ve ever read and at least in my top 3 of the year so far, so I couldn’t justify voting for any other entry. I don’t think, however, that Middlegame will win this years fantasy award. Firstly because it was a divisive book, loved by some but hated by others, which doesn’t bode well for you in a popularity-vote. Secondly, because it’s up against some heavy competition, including some continuations of series that already have thousands upon thousands of devoted fans behind them. For that reason alone, I predict that either The Winter of the Witch (third in the Winternight trilogy), or The Red Scrolls of Magic (a continuation of the Shadow Hunter Lore) will win. Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad if the former won, since Winter of the Witch was an incredible book, and a beautiful finale to the trilogy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the award goes to Cassandra Clare however, as barely a year has gone by where the hasn’t won at least one of the categories. In my heart I hope however, that readers will give new authors a chance as well this year.

Science Fiction

The Nominees:

  • Recursion by Blake Crouch

  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon

  • The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

  • Machines Like me by Iain McEwan

  • Fall by Neal Stephenson

  • Exhalation by Ted Chaing

  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone

  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown

My vote: Recursion

Personal favourite (not nominated): Interference (Semiosis #2) by Sue Burke

Predicted Winner: Recursion

This again, was a difficult choice for me, as I’ve read a couple of these books, and all were good. In the end though, my vote went to Recursion by Blake Crouch, as… what can I say… I have a soft spot for the author. I have read almost every book by him, and loved every single one of them. Recursion was no different. The reason for my doubt was that I would have loved to give my vote to some of the lesser known nominees, like The Deep by River Solomon, which is equally deserving of this award. Although I think Recursion has a good chance of finishing high, I think Dark Age by Pierce Brown may have it beat, for the advantage it has of being a continuation of a well-established series. That being said, Blake Crouch has a good following for himself as well, so this might be a close finish.

Debut Novel

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

  • Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

  • The Water Dancer by Ta Nehisi Goates

  • The Secrets we Kept by Lara Prescott

  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

  • A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

  • Queenie by Candice Carty Williams

  • Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

  • Evie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Personal favourite (not nominated): Where the Forest Meets the Stars

Predicted Winner: The Silent Patient

I can be quite short about this category, as I’ve already talked about why I loved On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and Where the Forest meets the Stars. Why do I think The Silent Patient will win? Sheer popularity. It’s the most mainstream book that most people know about. Just for comparison: it sold over 10x as many copies as Ocean Vuongs masterpiece did, so I don’t think it’ll have trouble outdoing its competitors with votes.

YA Fantasy

  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  • The King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

  • The Toll by Neal Schusterman

  • Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  • Finale by Stephanie Garber

  • The Wicked King by Holly Black

  • Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

First of all: I’m actually glad to see Sarah J. Maas not dominating this year’s list once again, as honestly with her added to the mix, the YA category is no competition at all. My personal vote for this category went to Margaret Rogerson, one of the lesser know authors on this list, with only one previous work that came out to mixed reception. Sorcery of Thorns however was not only a huge stride forward compared to An Enchantment of Ravens, but a fantastic read on its own as well. For this growth alone, I hope Margaret Rogerson gets the recognition she deserves. However, similar to the adult fantasy category, I feel like Rogerson might be up against some unfair competition. Not only does she have to compete with names like Cassandra Clare and Leigh Bardugo, her stand-alone novel is up against continuations of very beloved series. Like I mentioned before: not a year goes by without Cassandra Clare taking home at least one category win in the Goodreads Choice Awards, and I don’t suspect 2019 will be any different…


The Nominees:

  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

  • Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

  • New Kid by Jerry Craft

  • Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

  • The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan

  • Dairy of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney

  • Guts by Raina Telgemeier

  • The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

  • The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

My Vote: -

Personal favourite (not nominated): August Isle by Ali Standish

Predicted Winner: The Trials of Apollo

I didn’t cast a vote in the Middle Grade category, as I have only read one of these books (The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart). Yet I still wanted to mention it here, as it’s a very interesting and underrated genre, that I’ve been trying to cover from time to time on my blog. Middle Grade to me, is the genre that I love for its hidden gems. Those books that often nobody knows about, that smash the “age barrier” to become masterpieces that readers of all ages can enjoy. Because of their very nature, these will not be the books that are featured in this award list. Similarly, I feel like the middle grade genre has another problem when it comes to getting a reliable winner out of the choice awards. A problem that has everything to do with the way voting works: middle grade readers aren’t the ones filling out these online forms. Therefore, the winner of a category primarily aimed at children will be chosen by their parents, or other readers who have “crossed over” into the genre. For that reason, I’m fairly sure I know what book will go home with the price. The same book that’s the most “crossover” and is therefore read by a very vocal online group: the YA audience. That book is The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan.

My personal Middle Grade novel of the year has to be August Isle by Ali Standish, which has all the qualities I cherish in a masterpiece of this genre. It’s wonderfully written, poignant to the point where it left me with tears in my eyes, and a joy to experience for readers of any age.

That concludes my thoughts on the final rounds of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019. I plan on revisiting the topic as soon as the winners are announced, to see whether my predictions came true, and to possibly add some of the winners to my TBR as well.

Let me know what your favourite was in the categories I mentioned, and if you (dis)agree with my picks. Until then, happy reading and see you soon.

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