I read Cybils' nominee Hellbent by Anthony McGowan back at the beginning of December. I felt McGowan went a little over the top with all the excrement talk in the book, but otherwise I found the book witty and thought provoking with an extremely likeable main character. I also liked the ending.
My young relative BDT, our newly minted fifth-grade teacher, was attracted to Hellbent early on. He picked it out of the stash of Cybils books I gave him Christmas Day and had it read by New Year's Eve. His take on the book:
"Hellbent was written very well; I found myself drawn to the style and means of writing. The story was good, and I enjoyed it, but I found myself skimming through the second half, tired of the tangents that I enjoyed at first and just wishing to find out the results and move on. I would definitely not read that book with students until college, though I think it would make a fine philosophy text. Brings the age-old discussion of good and evil, Heaven and Hell into a new context."
I agree with BDT that Hellbent seems more appropriate for that seventeen- to twenty-one-year-old age group that I've heard publishers are interested in marketing to. I wish I knew of a name for these people. Young adult seems perfect, but it's already been used for teenagers and nobody's going to shift definitions just because I'd like to. I also thought of transitional readers, on the theory that these people are transitioning from teenager/pseudochildhood to adulthood. But that's taken also, being used for readers making the move from picture books to chapter books.
Someone should run a "Name That Reading Group" contest.