Despite legitimately inventing the English language, YA is not dominated by English, or indeed, UK authors. The big boys all hail from the US. While John Green and Cassandra Clare are indeed mega, we mustn’t forget that it is our DUTY as UK readers to spread the gospel of UKYA around the world. Why? Because we are producing some of the best, most innovative, fiction out there. Here are just ten of our flagship offerings.
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman – I’m running out of nice things to say about this series. A true dystopia with heart-breaking romance, high-octane terrorism and well-realised characters. This book should be taught in schools.
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – Oh PIPE DOWN, I KNOW Patrick was born in America, but he’s been in the UK FOREVER and wrote the bloody things here. Premium YA science fiction that tests the morality of the reader at every turn. A future classic.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – Sorry, another predictable choice. If you haven’t read this masterpiece then do so now. If books were hung in the Tate Modern, this one would surely have pride of place next to some sparkly Hirst tat.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – Surprise! No one ever mentions this! Oh, wait. Look, I know you’re bored, but this trilogy is MIND BLOWING and kind of invented the new wave of teen fiction. I’m not going to not mention it just because everyone agrees it’s among the finest books ever written.
Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne – If you like your YA a little gritty and stabby, you need to read Byrne’s debut for tour-de-force main character Emily Koll. I’d happily read ‘Recipes by Emily’, ‘Economics by Emily’ or ‘100% Justin Bieber by Emily Koll’ just to hear more of her killer put-downs.
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O Porter – When you hear ‘respected TV presenter is turning their hand to YA fiction’, you don’t automatically think ‘brutally honest coming of age story not unlike a Judy Blume for 2013’, but that is exactly what O Porter has accomplished in her debut. Amazing.
Entangled by Cat Clarke – I go back and forth on which of Clarke’s three novels I love the most. This week it’s Entangled because of the fragile and compelling main character Grace. Entangled also straddles the contemp/supernatural border with finesse.
The City’s Son by Tom Pollock – A delicious imagination sandwich in which the bread is imagination and the filling is IMAGINATION SPREAD. Pollock has transformed London into a living urban beast with organic, believable teen characters and vivid, scary monsters.
What’s Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long – In the children’s book industry, publishers seem to like ‘commercial books’ or ‘award books’. Well Long can do both. ‘Jody’ goes to show you don’t need Nazis or cancer to be a powerful and moving novel.
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner – A unique, unusual novel, quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Gardner is among the UK’s finest writers and she has never moved me more than with Maggot Moon. The final is beautiful and unexpected.
HOLLOW PIKE is out now! Insert UTTERLY SHAMELESS plug for CRUEL SUMMER here! And another for BEING A BOY!