BEA 2011 – Great Expectations

It can be the size of the ARC pile, word of mouth on the floor, or sometimes just a manic gleam in a publicist’s eye, but walking around BEA you can’t help but get a sense of what titles the publishers think will be big success stories come fall.  Here are a few of the titles of which great things are expected:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

As I was standing in line to get this book, I discovered several of the people standing nearby had come an hour early to get in line – and they had already read the book. And they kept saying things like: I almost cried when it was over because I didn’t want to leave the world – it’s the best book I’ve read in years. Take that, throw in a heap of amazing reviews and toss a movie deal on top, and suddenly it’s easy to see why Random House is so very, very excited about this title.

Book Jacket:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

You can read an excerpt here.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Scholastic is not being shy when it comes to this book – you could have built an Eiffel tower out of the ARC piles, and Wonderstruck posters loomed large and proud over Scholastic’s booth. Given the success of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Selznick’s previous book), and the fact that Hugo Cabret will be on the big screen this fall (directed by none other than Martin Scorsese), it’s easy to understand why Scholastic is bouncing with excitement. And yes, the book is supposed to be good too!

Book Jacket:

Set fifty years apart, two independent stories—Ben’s told in words and Rose’s in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.

Ever since his mom died, Ben feels lost.
At home with her father, Rose feels alone.

He is searching for someone, but he is not sure who.
She is searching for something, but she is not sure what.

When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mom’s room,
When a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose

Both children risk everything to find what’s missing.

With over 460 pages of original drawings and playing with the form he invented in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey. Rich, complex, affecting and beautiful, Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

There were a very limited number of ARCs of this title at BEA, and people were swarming like locusts trying to get a copy. It was featured at the YA Editors Buzz panel too. I know – everyone always claims they’ve got the next big paranormal YA success story, but this is one claim that has some weight to it…

Book Jacket:

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Heaps of ARCs, editors and publicists raving – Little, Brown is behind this book 100% and it shows. And so we have another title that seems poised to claim The Next Big Thing award on the paranormal YA front – and it too was featured at the YA Editors Buzz panel.

Book Jacket:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

It may not have had a big ARC giveaway, but this title was still a big name on the floor – and of course, it too was featured at an Editors Buzz panel, this time on the MG side. I’ve been hearing more and more all the time about how agents, editors and publishers believe MG is poised to skyrocket to YA-like proportions, and everyone is just waiting for the geyser to erupt. This title is trembling on the brink of that expectation, and the fact that it’s a book with some star power behind it doesn’t hurt a bit.

Book Jacket:

The first book in the epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder, and danger—nothing less than an American Narnia—from Colin Meloy, lead singer of the highly celebrated band the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of the New York Times bestselling The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Legend by Marie Lu

And lastly, we have a dystopian YA that already has landed a movie deal – this book just has high concept fun written all over it. With a dab of Catch Me If You Can, a pinch of Bourne Identity, and plenty of action, this title seems poised to join the dystopian landslide of success.

Book Jacket:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

And there you have it, some of the 800 pound gorillas of BEA 2011. But the real question is – which one will you read first?