Yes, your prize-whore was tripping all over herself to get down to the library the very day the 2014 Printz Award winner was announced and thank goodness I'm fast because Midwinterblood was still buried there on the YA shelves, safe and sound and just waiting for me to snatch it up.
Marcus Sedgwick's fantasy novel is comprised of seven interlocking stories each set in a different time with different characters, each the reincarnation of the same two souls seeking to reunite with each other over the course of ten centuries. From an ancient pagan King and Queen to a mother and son to an artist and a child, each reincarnation leads you in a giant circle back to it's creepy beginning, set in the year 2073 where a journalist arrives on a remote island where inhabitants are rumored to live forever.
The premise is engaging. The execution is mediocre. The first problem I ran into was Sedgwick's tendency to try so hard to create mysteriously creepy that he ended up creating a lot of what the hell instead. There became so many unanswered loose ends that mysterious turned into annoying.
My second problem was that the overarching love story - the souls that were struggling over ten centuries to be reunited - never really rang true. None of the stories were long enough to develop that kind of deep, believable love. Not the kind of love that repeatedly calls for suicide pacts. It simply didn't ring true for me.
Which leads me to my final problem with the novel. I'm unsure of who categorized this book as Young Adult. I didn't read anything in this novel to indicate that it necessarily belonged on the Young Adult shelves versus the Adult fiction. I'm still scratching my head over this.
I didn't think this a bad novel by any means. In fact, I still love the premise. I simply think it could have been better written. Fleshing out the stories to make motivations believable and tying up all the loose ends for the readers would have made this mediocre novel - for me - an absolutely fantastic novel.
It's a good thing I'm not handing out Printz Awards, isn't it?