Did anyone see the recent episode of Project Runway where they designed tearaway clothes for strippers? BOTH teams lost. I wish we could do the same here.
Pitting Starry River of the Sky against Splendors and Glooms, Thanhha Lai incomprehensibly evokes a video game junkie “from, say, Dallas” to say that both books work as “entertainment.” And that’s it, really (the essay is only 250 words). She chooses Splendors and Glooms for no particular reason.
Meanwhile Paul Griffin, judging Seraphina and No Crystal Stair, starts out like he’s Time magazine bon vivant Joel Stein, devoting the first five hundred words to sucking up to his publisher, who gives him Snickers. (I picture Scottie Bowditch tossing them into a pool while dolphin-Griffin does tricks.) But when he gets over himself, Griffin does have interesting things to say about his contenders, praising both books for their plot: “this is what most stood out to me—the meticulous scene-by-scene construction and perfect pacing. Both books are just good old fashioned storytelling: provocative beginnings, wild-ride middles, and endings that are at the same time happy and heart-rippingly poignant.” It’s all good until it comes time for a decision, which he decides to hand over to SLJ editor Rick Margolis along with a bag of Snickers. When Rick graciously denies the bribe, Griffin flips a coin and No Crystal Stair wins. So do wimps everywhere.
So it’s Griffin, for having smart observations. But as Heidi Klum would unsmilingly warn, “You’re in. But not by much.”
Round two is completed and the winner is Martine Leavitt. We will have one more round here, comprising the final three BoB judges (Lynne Rae Perkins, James Patterson, and Frank Cottrell Boyce).