ALA Alex Awards:What are they exactly?

ALA announced its latest Alex Award winners for adult books that have special appeal to younger adults.  To be honest, even though this is what we do at Boys Do Read (finding anything that might appeal to boys regardless of genre or target audience), I still can't quite figure out how you can give an award on it.

I get that there are certain books on certain subjects that have a broad appeal, that can work quite well for any audience, but it still strikes me as odd that they could pinpoint 10 books that 'win'.  Based on what exactly?  Are they the best books of the year for adults? Does the public think so?  Are they the best written?

I don't have a problem with giving adult books to teens; they're all I read by the time I was 14.  It hardly stunted my emotional growth to not read the teen 'issues' books that we out there, instead going into Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, and lots of classic Sci-Fi authors.  But looking at the award winners makes me wonder how it even works.  Who are these 'teens' that these books supposedly appeal to?  'Teens' are a huge demographic.  There are boys, girls, jocks, nerds, hippies, artsy types, hipster wannabees, wallflowers, punks, and all the other cliches that I can't think of right now.  They could hardly agree to read any of the winning books.

Ready Player One is a great example.  The book is about video games and movies, which is all fine and good, and why I loved it.  But here's the thing.  I didn't get a number of the references in it (not that it matters that much; it's still a good quest story), and I'm 31.  It's a love letter to the 80s, and I was 10 in 1990. Teens these days weren't even born yet and I would think that the appeal of the book is actually pretty limited.  There are certainly lots of kids out there who would like it, but not the majority by far.

These probably aren't bad books.  I don't know, I haven't read most of them.  It's just that the idea of this award is pretty nebulous to me.  Can anyone out there help clarify?

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