UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy

18482238Kate Rickman seems just like any other nineteen-year-old girl. She goes to university, she dates nice, normal boys and she works in her local tourist office at the weekend. But Kate’s not really normal at all.

‘Kate’ is in fact a carefully constructed facade for a girl called Jennifer Jones – and it’s a facade that’s crumbling fast. Jennifer has spent the last nine years frantically trying to escape from her horrifying past.

Increasingly desperate, Jennifer decides to do something drastic. She contacts the only other girl who might understand what she’s dealing with, breaking every rule of her parole along the way.

Lucy Bussell is the last person Jennifer expects any sympathy from, but she’s also the last person she has left.

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Author Louisa Reid’s Top 10 UKYA books

picLouisa Reid, author of Black Heart Blue and Lies Like Love, picks her Top 10 UKYA books “in no particular order!”

1. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

This book made me cry. It’s terrifying and clever and beautifully written in clear, sharp prose with an ending so heart-breaking and powerful that it had me reeling for ages after. An amazing piece of fiction.

follow-me-down2. Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne

I love Tanya’s writing for its originality and vivid detail and also because she isn’t afraid of the dark side. A brilliant book about boarding school mayhem, teenage danger and desire. I read this with relish.

3. Heroic by Phil Earle

Heroic is a fabulous novel with wonderful characters and relationships that feel really real. Definitely one to read if you want something fast-paced but also tender.

127434724. Slated trilogy by Teri Terry

I love dystopian fiction and Teri’s novels are wonderful. I couldn’t pick one out of all of them so I’m having them all! The twists and turns are brilliantly plotted and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Also these novels are a perfect example of how to use dream sequences to brilliant effect.

5. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I’m a sucker for war novels and this one really is well written. The powerful friendships and the heroism of the main characters is wonderfully portrayed.

unknown56. A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd

This is a brilliant and beautiful book. It engrossed me from start to finish with its powerful evocation of grief and the frightening consequences of loneliness and alcoholism.

7. Trouble by Non Pratt

I’d have loved this book as a teenager and I loved it as an adult reader, even going so far as to badger its poor author for a sequel because I couldn’t bear for it to end! Fab characters and themes – teenage pregnancy, in particular, is dealt with in an original and challenging way and the moral questions posed really had me thinking.

looking-for-jj8. Looking for JJ and Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy

Another cheat, sorry! Two for the price of one. I have to admit to only just reading the brilliant Looking for JJ but I’m glad I waited as it meant I could binge on the sequel too. I love that book box set feeling because I have no patience and have to guzzle everything all at once. Anyway, these are fascinating novels with a tricky and challenging premise. Wonderful.

9. The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine

An old favourite. I first encountered this book early in my teaching career and remember the class loving its darkness, just as did I. Twisted friendships and horrific family secrets make this one a gripping and taut read.

pop_cover10. Pop! by Catherine Bruton

I love Catherine’s writing. She creates wonderful characters with distinctive and original voices. I could really see and hear every detail of this book. It’s a great read with a setting that’s perfect for someone who often misses the grim North (only joking about the grim bit!)


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Guest post: Emma Haughton’s Top 5 UKYA Contemporary Thrillers

NowYouSeeMe_frontcover_green Oh god, the agonising! So hard to pick five. But here goes, and in no particular order.

1. Daylight Saving by Ed Hogan

I loved this book, and am on a one-woman mission to get everyone to read it. I am cheating a bit because although it is a contemporary YA thriller, it does have a supernatural element. A thriller ghost story – what’s not to love? But actually what I liked best about this book is its humour. Hogan does great comedy, and the portrayal of Daniel’s hapless, somewhat depressed father had me laughing out loud. But the story is also moving and poignant, and impossible to put down. Go on, go and read it right now!

2. The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

So many things to love about this book, and many of them unusual. The setting of a small German town, the beautiful prose, and slow build give The Glass Demon the feel of a literary classic, but Grant can do scary and sinister like no one else. I loved the spooky, horror elements, and warmed to the protagonist Lin and her reluctant relationship with a neighbouring boy. But more than anything I loved the portrayal of her utterly narcissistic step-mother, Tuesday, whose laziness and blithe self-regard are painfully funny. And I so worried about the fate of the legendary Allerheiligen stained glass, which has me just as anxious for its safety as the priceless painting in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.

3. Cruel Summer by James Dawson

Cruel Summer offers a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek twist on the classic whodunit, with a cast of the impossibly young and beautiful in a glamorous Mediterranean setting. Sharp, sassy and uber-cool, like Josh Whedon’s meta-horror flick Cabin in the Woods Dawson grabs all the horror tropes and turns them inside out, playing out all the clichés with conscious irony through Ryan, who narrates everything in his head as if it were a TV show. A clever, postmodern blend of horror and suspense, chilling and amusing by turns.

4. Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

Taking us deep into the psyche of a convicted child killer, Looking for JJ has rightly become something of a YA classic. A brave and daring novel, whose author manages to keep us completely on the side of protagonist Alice Tully; despite knowing what she’s done, Cassidy has us rooting for her success in establishing a new life. It’s not an entirely comfortable read, in that Cassidy doesn’t take the easy route of exonerating Alice from her crime, but shows by slow, painful degrees just how one child might be driven to kill another, and how our only just response is forgiveness and understanding. Harrowing stuff, and I can’t wait to read the recently released sequel, Finding Jennifer Jones.

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Okay, I may be stretching the definition of YA just a little here, and possibly that of a thriller too, but I couldn’t resist including Mark Haddon’s masterpiece. Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone is one of literature’s great teenage sleuths, and The Curious Incident is a fabulous whodunnit, albeit if the victim is a dog. By showing us the everyday through the prism of profound Asperger syndrome, Haddon gives us the world afresh. Clever, profound and deeply moving.

Emma Haughton’s own contemporary YA thriller, Now You See Me is published by Usborne today. A one-time family and travel journalist, Emma’s second novel, Better Left Buried, comes out next year.

Visit Emma’s website at http://www.emmahaughton.com for more details, connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/emmahaughtonwriter or chat with her on Twitter: @Emma_Haughton #NowYouSeeMe


Author C.J. Skuse’s Top 10 UKYA books

050CJ Skuse is the author of PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC. Here are her Top 10 favourite UKYA books!

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

I picked this when I read for the Chicken House Times Children’s Fiction Competition a few years ago and I knew it was my favourite by the time I’d got to the bottom of the first page. It has an Inbetweenersy kind of humour to it and a very sweet love story right at its heart. Ticks all my boxes.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Because Sirius Black. That is all.

soulmates-by-holly-bourneSoulmates by Holly Bourne

I love the central premise of this book and I think Holly is an exceptionally talented new writer with a fine sense of humour. That ending though. Damn her #heartbroken

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

I could have picked any of Kevin’s books as I love them all but I’ve picked Martyn Pig because it was the first of his that I read and I found it just so fresh. I think I get my love of dubious endings from this great man.

untitledDoing It by Melvin Burgess

When I was trying to get published, I always had in my mind that I wanted to be a female version of Melvin Burgess but I’m still nowhere near his calibre. Doing It is my favourite book of his because it’s just so unafraid and matter-of-fact about sex.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Anything written by Lucy Christopher just has the mark of quality on it and this book stayed with me for a long time. The premise is so simple yet so powerfully written. I could live a 100 years and not write anything as great as this.

forget me notForget Me Not by Anne Cassidy

Everyone always talks about Looking for JJ but this is my favourite Anne Cassidy book. It’s quite sinister and the ending is very brave and I found it incredibly satisfying.

The Madolescents by Chrissie Glazebrook

This book never gets talked about but it is the book which made me want to write for teens in a humorous style. It’s dated a bit now but the comedy still holds up and the main character was almost certainly an inspiration for Paisley in my first book Pretty Bad Things.

TornTorn by David Massey

Loved this book from start to finish. To be frank, I’d never read anything regarding the war in Afghanistan which really interested me until this came along. And I fancied the pants off the hot American Lieutenant, I’ll admit it.

Mothertime by Gillian White

This one isn’t technically YA but I had to add it because Gillian White is THE writer who made me want to write when I was 17. I wrote her a letter and she sent me 2 signed novels and a very encouraging note which spurred me on. I’ve never forgotten that note. Mothertime is about five young brothers and sisters, led by 12-year-old Vanessa, who lock their alcoholic mother in the sauna over Christmas to dry her out. I may have subconsciously locked a certain rock star in a garage thanks to this book.