UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


Kat Ellis’s Top 10 UKYA books

katWhen I started thinking about my top 10 UKYA picks, I decided I wanted to put something a little  different out there, and highlight some books that are brand new favourites, or maybe haven’t had as much exposure as some other titles. So my picks are ALL (I hope!) books that haven’t yet been featured on this site as Top 10s. In no particular order…

1. THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich

This doesn’t come out until the summer, but I was lucky enough to read it early. Carly and Kaitlyn are the Johnson sisters – two girls who inhabit one body. Carly gets the day, and Kaitlyn has the night – though nobody believes Kaitlyn is real. Diary entries, psychologists’ reports, and recovered video footage shine a light on The Johnson Incident – the night where Elmbridge Academy burned down, killing several students. Amazingly dark and creepy!

eren2. EREN by Simon P Clark

Tell the story to its end, the monster tells Oli. This is a haunting novel about secrets and stories and finding our own truth, and it’ll appeal to fans of A Monster Calls and Skellig, in particular.

3. THE HANGED MAN RISES by Sarah Naughton

This story is set in a Victorian London where a killer hunts children by night. It has a Jack-the-Ripper-ish feel to it, with a dose of dark magic and creepy supernatural goings on.

prettybadthings4. PRETTY BAD THINGS by CJ Skuse

This was the first of CJ’s books I read, but I could have mentioned any of them as an instant favourite. It tells the story of Paisley and Beau, the ‘wonder twins’, who go on a crime spree across the US in a bid to find their long-lost father. It’s hilarious and heart-wrenching, and just great fun.

5. TINDER by Sally Gardner

This is a fairytale retelling of The Tinderbox, and it has a really dreamy, abstract quality to it that’s totally absorbing. The illustrations in it are wonderful, and bring the story to life.

getimage_195_300_c1_center_center_0_0_16. THE SAVAGES by Matt Whyman

Sasha comes from a family of cannibals, so maybe bringing her vegetarian boyfriend home for dinner wasn’t such a great idea…This book is darkly funny and very original.

7. THE YEAR OF THE RAT by Clare Furniss

Pearl’s mother died giving birth to ‘The Rat’ – Pearl’s baby sister. This is the story of the year that follows, and it’s hilarious as well as heart-breaking. I started crying when I reached page 14, and didn’t really stop until the end. I almost had to be put on a drip.

bunkerdiary8. THE BUNKER DIARY by Kevin Brooks

This won the Carnegie Medal last year, and definitely deserved to. Teenager Linus is abducted and held in an underground bunker with 5 other people, with no way out unless their captor lets them go… Gripping stuff!

9. JON FOR SHORT by Malorie Blackman

This short, weird book with illustrations by Vladimir Stankovic is a twisted little nightmare, where Jon’s limbs are taken one by one each night as he sleeps. I bought this one for the cover, but it has really burned itself into my brain.

killingwoods10. THE KILLING WOODS by Lucy Christopher – I had high expectations after STOLEN broke my heart, and Lucy definitely gave it another shattering with her second YA novel. Emily’s dad, suffering from PTSD, is accused of killing a girl in the woods. But as Emily finds out more about what happens in the woods late at night, it’s not so clear who is to blame for the girl’s death… tense, thrilling, and sinister.

And that’s it! Hopefully I have stuck to my own rules and not duplicated any from other lists, but feel free to call me out on it if I have. I will give a special mention to 3 I would’ve included if they hadn’t already appeared elsewhere: TROUBLE by Non Pratt, SKIN DEEP by Laura Jarratt, and THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS by Gavin Extence.

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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.


Sangu Mandanna’s Top 10 UKYA books

Author photo (Colour)My list of favourite books – UK, YA or not – changes all the time! Like, weekly. I read something new and love it and BAM! It’s on the list. But then there are some books that never quite get bumped off the list, no matter what else comes after, and my list today is mostly comprised of these books. I’ve probably forgotten some of my favourites and will later kick myself, but anyway. I will also admit that in some cases my definition of “UKYA” is loose, but to me these books and authors totally count!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This is one of the loose ones. It’s as British as they come, but is it YA? I’m pretty sure the characters are adults. But the themes of self-discovery, first love and coming of age are so intrinsically YA that this is how I always think of it. Either way it’s a fantastic book: it’s funny, it’s dark, it’s romantic, it’s so utterly thrilling. (And it doesn’t hurt that I love the film based on it too!) Basically, I love Neil Gaiman.

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

No list of mine, whatever the genre or country, is complete without these books. They are filled with some of my most favourite characters of all time. I love them to bits.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is American (I think?) but this novel is totally UKYA. It’s a story about friendship and courage and loyalty, which I love; a story about tricks and twists, which I love; a story that broke my heart, which I love – but it’s also a Second World War story, a spy story, and a story about flying planes, none of which I love. And yet this book is so wonderful, I loved those things about it too.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Broke. My. Heart. Into. A. Thousand. Little. Pieces. That is all I can say. (Actually, I could probably also add that I loved that it was a war story and a dystopian story that did not need or rely on countless tedious, tired details about who, what, where, why, how. It was about characters caught up in the war and that was all that mattered.)

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

I’ll give this to Meg: she never writes the same book twice. Oh, and her books are awesome. The Bride’s Farewell is strange and twisty and romantic and utterly beautiful.

Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton

(Hi, Keris!) I have such an enormous soft spot in my heart for this book. It is funny, sweet and has a swoon-worthy boy – and those things are always a winner for me – but more than anything else, it really and truly makes me remember what it was like to be a teenager. So few YA books actually do that for me.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

In case you don’t know what this book is about, I’ll tell you: it’s about a boy and a girl who fall in love. They also happen to be brother and sister. By blood. Not adopted, not ‘in spirit’, not grew up side by side. It’s not a new subject for fiction by any means: The God of Small Things does it, Flowers in the Attic does it, other books do it. But this one is special for me. The romance should have made me feel icky, but the magic of this book is that it doesn’t. Everything tells me it’s wrong. This is a relationship that is forbidden in the most basic way. It’s not the casual, not-really-wrong kind of ‘forbidden’ that so many fictional romances play on today. It’s literally taboo. But when I read and reread the book I root for Lochan and Maya anyway. I want them to be together. Their love story is beautiful and passionate and tormented and doomed and all the things you want from a great love story.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Ditto Forbidden. A boy abducts a girl and keeps her prisoner, he loves her, she kind of loves him, but she’s still his prisoner and he’s probably not quite sane… and I want them to stay together?! That is the kind of thing I would never think in real life. And yet when I read this book for the first time all I wanted was for them to be together. That’s what this book does to you. Plus it’s got some stunning descriptions of the hot Australian outback…

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

There are a lot of things I love about these books, from the settings to the characters to the literally allusions, but I’m just going to pinpoint the single most wonderful thing: daemons.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Long before YA dystopian novels became the Big Thing, Noughts and Crosses was a winner. I haven’t actually read the sequels, only because I feel unequal to the trauma of carrying on with the story without a Certain Something (it would be a major spoiler if I told you who or what that Something is, but if you’ve read it you’ll understand) but this instalment is exciting and rich and heartbreaking.

And there you have it!


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Cicely of Cicely Loves Books’ Top 10 UKYA

Book blogger Cicely of Cicely Loves Books shares her Top 10 UKYA faves.

Naked by Kevin Brooks

A really great, kind of tragic story about early punk in the 1970s; I was kind of taken aback by how much I really loved it. I wasn’t expected great feats from it at all, but it blew me away.

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

A beautiful fantasy retelling of Cinderella that twists the story into something that feels fresh and new. It’s a lot darker than the Cinderella I grew up with too, though it only made the story better. I need to read the rest of Zoe’s books!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

What sort of a post would this be if it didn’t have Neil Gaiman on it! Even though he doesn’t technically live in the UK anymore, he still has a British accent so I’m counting it. Also, I guess it’s not 100 percent YA, but I do really love this book. It’s the first Gaiman book I ever read and I loved the feel to it, and the way he writes is amazing! Sorry, I like Neil Gaiman a lot…

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton

SO. BLOODY. CUTE. I’ll be honest, I was torn between which of Keris’s books to put on here because I love all of them, but just the way New York was described in this book! It gave me a serious case of wanderlust, and now thanks to Emma I want to go to LA too. *saves up for a plane ticket*

Torn by Cat Clarke

One of the most twisted, gripping books I’ve read in ages. I literally couldn’t put it down. I was just so involved in the story and it moved me with how intense it was. The ending is pure evil, but it’s one of my favourite books.

Witch Child by Celia Rees

I read this book ages ago, actually, but I still really love it! It was one of my first introductions to historical YA and I just remember being really caught up in Mary’s story. The sequel, Sorceress, is just as good, but it made me cry. A lot.

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Another really dark, intense book (what does that say about me?!) that I just really loved. I was so torn for the whole thing, and I didn’t really know if I could trust Emily, but at the same time despite the crazy I really liked her and it made me feel stuff, guys! I felt so numb at the end, it was like I’d been on an emotional rollercoaster (cheeeeesy, but true).

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

I have so many feelings about this book it’s insane! This is another one of those wicked, moral twisting books that makes you want the wrong thing to happen because even though Ty kidnapped her he’s not that bad! Also, the whole letter-writing style it’s done in is really unique and I loved it once I got used to Ty being called ‘you’.

Adorkable by Sarra Manning

Another adorable book! Or should I say, Adorkable! (or maybe I shouldn’t. Sometimes I can’t hold back on the awful puns. I apologise.) This book just makes me want to hug it, and that’s all I’m going to say because this is already too long.

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

So dark and creepy! I loved this book, and I really want to read something new from her soon. Even though it wasn’t until about the last 150 pages that it got really creepy, it still kept me awake at night.


Savita Kalhan’s Top 10 UKYA books

UKYA author Savita Kalhan chooses her Top 10 books.

Choosing my favourites for any top ten list is hard, choosing favourites from the wonderful talent in UK YA is almost impossible! It’s not made any easier by the fact that as fast as I read, I barely seem to make a dent in my TBR pile. Also, I know I will have missed some books that I’ve absolutely loved reading and that some books in my TBR pile would have made it to this list if I’d had more time to read.

Anyhow, enough excuses, this is my current top ten list, in no particular order, and yes I’ve managed to throw in a few trilogies and counted them as one!

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy – Although I read this book some time ago, the story has stayed with me. It is an unflinchingly told and compelling story of a child who has killed, now grown up and rejoining society.

Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip. Firebrand and Bloodstone
I love fantasy and this is one of the best series in recent years. It’s darkly beautiful. I’m champing at the bit for the third book.

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, this book was so rich in detail you could have been inside the story. It’s both funny and moving as it explores first love, class and the politics that almost got the world blown up. It’s a great read.

Stolen, A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
It begins with a young girl, Gemma, who is abducted at an airport by a young man named Ty, and from the very beginning the book has an original voice that draws you in. The descriptions are so vivid they jump off the page, and the main characters are utterly believable.

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
I love Dowd’s writing, it’s poetic and powerful stuff, and this book in particular resonated with me. The rural Ireland that it’s set in is only 1984, but you might think it was far earlier than that. Shell, the main character is bound by her upbringing, by the traditions, religious faith and society that surround her.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
Pregnant women are dying of an incurable disease and the future of humankind is at stake, so yes, the book is dystopian, but it’s not an unrecognisable future. It’s one that’s disturbingly close. And the Sleeping Beauties? A very scary idea.

Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman
Sheer brilliance from a great writer.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
One of my favourite fantasy trilogies. Bartimaeus, the genii, is an inspired character, wry, sardonic and world-weary, he’s endlessly fascinating.

Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness
As soon as I started reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, I was hooked. I loved the invention of The Noise, and glad I was a woman so I didn’t have to hear it! A great series.

Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn
It’s 1939 and 13 year old Ro, after one episode too many, is sent to a lunatic asylum to undergo a new treatment: electric shock therapy. Every single character in this book is brilliantly drawn, and Ro and his dorm mate Dorothea, are inspired. The book is extremely heart-breaking.