UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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Author Sally Nicholls’ Top 10 UKYA books

images-25Skellig by David Almond

A boy finds a tramp with angel wings in an abandoned garage. Is he an angel, or a new kind of human? A simply-told, but surprisingly complex and utterly beautiful story about how to be human. True fact: I once left a friend waiting for over an hour outside Tesco, because I couldn’t bear to put this book down.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Sex, death, war, incest, first love, country houses, freedom, adolescence, magical children, dangerous journeys, foraging for food, and some more sex. This is a coming-of-age story that sits perfectly between the adventure stories I loved as a child, with the darker edge I love as an adult. Meg Rosoff is American, but this is a very English book.

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Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty

If you loved Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Eleanor and Park’, you need to read ‘Dear Nobody’. Chris and Helen take turns to narrate the story of their relationship, and everything that happens when seventeen-year-old Helen discovers she is pregnant. Another very well written novel with a simple story, this felt very true to my adolescent experience and was a worthy winner of the 1991 Carnegie Medal.

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

I love Saffy’s Angel. I love it. I love all the Cassons. I love their mother Eve, who is flawed but totally human, and utterly sympathetic. I love Sarah-down-the-road and her evil schemes. I love long-suffering Michael. I love the jokes, and I love the characters and I love the dialogue and … I wish I’d written this book. Go and read it. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200. Read it now.

images-4The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend

Clever, funny, well-observed and occasionally sad. What can I say? There are just not enough books about working-class 13-year-old intellectuals living in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Do you weep, Mrs Thatcher, do you weep?

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

If you don’t love I Capture the Castle, I’m not sure we can be friends. Think Pride and Prejudice, but set in a half-ruined castle in 1920s Britain, narrated by a book-loving seventeen-year-old waiting for love, with a stepmother who roams the countryside wearing only Wellington books. This book is everything you dreamed a book with that plot summary could be. Only better.

The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman

I wavered between this book and Northern Lights, but I’m not sure Northern Lights is technically YA, while this definitely is. There are four novels about Victorian detective Sally Lockhart, and while you should start with The Ruby in the Smoke, The Tiger in the Well is my favourite, if only because the premise is so chilling. What if someone altered the records that define your whole life? What if your paperwork now said that your house, your money and even your daughter no longer belonged to you? And what if that person then arrived to claim them?

The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Set in a castle on the Welsh marshes at the end of the twelfth century, this is the story of Arthur. Arthur wants to be a knight, but he’s worried that his father will send him to a monastery. The castle is full of secrets, and none of the secrets is more important than the stone in which he sees stories about another boy called Arthur, who grew up to be king of England. Kevin Crossley-Holland is a poet, and it shows. The medieval history is a bonus.

382229Flour Babies by Anne Fine

I have a soft spot for novels about a whole school class, and Anne Fine excels at them. When the boys of 4C (bottom set Year Ten) are each given a flour baby to care for, it kick-starts a meditation on fatherhood and responsibility for class dunce Simon Martin. Brilliantly observed, occasionally sad, and very funny. (If you liked this, also try her other Carnegie winner, Goggle Eyes.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

This is obviously the best Harry Potter book. Do not argue with me. Professor Lupin! Snape in a dress! Quiddich matches you actually care about! And the best plot twist in the history of Harry Potter plot twists. Also, the only book with no Lord Voldemort. And did I mention Professor Lupin?

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UKYA Top Books of 2013 Part 3

mooseMoose Baby by Meg Rosoff – a clever, very funny novel about a teenage girl who gives birth to a moose. Proof – if you needed it – that novels for dyslexic readers can be satirical, witty and surprising.  Picked by Sally Nicholls whose latest novel is Close Her Pretty Eyes.

 

 

 

Rose-Under-Fire-UKAlso picked by Sally Nicholls: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. I loved books about prison camps when I was a teenager (should I admit that here?) and this book reminded me why. Less about death, and much more about surviving with dignity and humour. Also contains aeroplanes.

 

 

 

17205536You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett: a clear-eyed insight into the machinations of TV talent shows and internet hate campaigns from a wholly unexpected point of view; warm, kind and chock full of positive female friendships. Picked by Susie Day, author of Pea’s Book of Best Friends.

 

 

 

lost girlAlso picked by Susie: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna: striking debut set in a near-future where the wealthy can ‘weave’ themselves a spare body. Eva is one such replacement. A Frankenstein retelling, set in the Lake District and India: chills, thrills, romance and beautiful writing.

 

 

 

IrisAfter Iris by Natasha Farrant…it’s funny, touching and beautifully written.Picked by Caroline Green, author of Cracks.


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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Most anticipated UKYA books in 2013 by Michelle of Fluttering Butterflies

When I read lovely Michelle’s fabulous Top 10 post today, I just had to ask if we could pinch it and post it here too. So many fab-sounding books! Over to Michelle…

Dead Romantic by CJ Skuse

I adore CJ Skuse! And the cover for this one makes me happy. Look out for it in February!

Camille wants to find the perfect boy, with an athlete’s body and a poet’s brain. But when she’s mocked at a college party, she kows there isn’t a boy alive who’ll ever measure up. Enter Zoe, her brilliant but strange best friend, who takes biology homework to a whole new level. She can create Camille’s dream boy, Frankenstein-stylee. But can she make him love her?

Cruel Summer by James Dawson

It was only recently that I read and loved Hollow Pike! And in August, we’ll be sure to have another delight from James Dawson:

One year after the suicide of one of their friends, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They’re hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives – claiming to have evidence that the suicide was actually murder. When she is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of them – but who is it? And will they strike again? A compelling psychological thriller – with a dash of romance.

Undone by Cat Clarke

Published by Quercus in January! Cat Clarke is definitely one of my favourites and is definitely an ‘auto-buy’ author – 

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she’s learning to live with it. Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online … and he kills himself. Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author.

The Worst Girlfriend in the World by Sarra Manning

No cover for this one yet, but due to be published by Atom in May –  about two best friends fighting over the same boy. I do love Sarra Manning!
So much.

The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott

No cover for this one either, but I do so love Zoe’s other books. They’ve frequently been on my favourite books of the year lists. This one isn’t expected until July –  

When Mio steals the family’s katana – a priceless ancestral sword – from her parents’ attic, she just wants to spice up a fancy-dress costume. But the katana is much more than some dusty antique and her actions unleash a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. Soon Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, appears to protect Mio – and threatens to steal her heart. With the gods and monsters of Japanese myth stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe, and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life … but the love of a lifetime.

Heroic by Phil Earle

I’ve loved the previous two books I’ve read by Phil Earle, so I’m eagerly awaiting this book, published by Penguin in April –

‘For the past five weeks I’d prayed that I’d never see my brother’s name spelt out in poppies. In the months that followed I often wished I had.’

Jammy and Sonny McGann are brothers, but that’s where the similarities end. One is calm when the other is angry; one has a plan while the other lives purely in the moment. 

When Jammy returns from Afghanistan a very different man to the one who left, it’s Sonny who is left to hold things together. But just how far will he go to save the brother who always put him first?
Inspired by S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and by the battles facing young soldiers all over the world, this is a devastating novel about brotherhood and sacrifice, from the award-winning author of Being Billy and Saving Daisy.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Look for the new Meg Rosoff from Penguin in March!

From author’s blog: “it’s a heartrending future classic, soon to be a major motion picture, not to mention a thoughtful, insanely sophisticated exploration of the relationship between adults and children. It contains a gigantic easter egg, lots of French toast and a weed whacker.”

Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma

I’ve been trying desperately to get my hands on all of the books by Tabitha, especially after that emotional rollercoaster of Forbidden. I think I will always look forward to her books. Hurt has no cover just yet, but will be published (hopefully!) in August.  

Acid by Emma Pass

This book is due out in April by Random House! I’m really looking forward to it:

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.

Night School: Legacy by CJ DaughertyHaving loved the first book in this series, I was always going to be excited to read its sequel.  Set in this creepy boarding school, I can’t wait to get back into this series and catch up with the characters. Luckily, I don’t have long to wait as it will be published by Atom in January!

In the last year, Allie’s survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It’s the one place she’s felt she belongs. And the fact that it’s brought the dreamy Carter West into her life hasn’t hurt. . .

But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could’ve imagined. The students, and faculty, are under threat and Allie’s family – from her mysterious grandma to her runaway brother – are at the centre of the storm.

Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart. . .

Thanks so much for letting us cross-post this, Michelle. 

Which UKYA book are you keenest to read in 2013? Tell us in the comments. 


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La Jongleuse chooses her Top 10 UKYA novels

The blogger knows as Jongleuse chooses her Top 10 books. 

1) Siobhan Dowd A Swift Pure Cry

Simply one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking books in any genre I’ve ever read.

2) Julie Bertagna Exodus and sequels

Julie Bertagna has deservedly cropped up on many best of YA lists. Her post-global warming trilogy spanning generations and continents, as well as being exquisitely written, is a great adventure story.

3) David Almond, My Name is Mina

Prequel to Skellig, but not like any other prequel you’ve read. Anything and everything by David Almond is worth reading.

4) Meg Rosoff, There is No Dog

How I live Now is Meg’s best-known book, but I loved this quirky tale of a teenage boy playing God, delivered, as usual, in Meg’s precise, beautiful prose.

5) Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men and sequels

What to say about Sir Terry? If you’re a fan of fantasy, humour and metaphysics in equal quantities, the Tiffany Aching series is a brilliant place to start, although most of his output is eminently YA suitable anyway.

6) Anthony McGowan, Henry Tumour

Funny, sad and outrageous.

7) Celia Rees, Witch Child

This one really pushed the boundaries of historical fiction, away from bodice-rippers to something darker and more thought provoking.

8) Kevin Brooks, Naked

Brooks’ writing is taut and clever. Being (only just) old enough to remember punk first time round I loved this book about a teen punk rock star and her involvement with a young man who has a troubled past. Anything by Brooks is worth reading, however.

9) Jan Mark, They do things differently there

Jan Mark is not much read these days (sadly I think this one’s out of print) but she was outrageously talented. This story of two girls who invent an alternative world (Stalemate) in their boring New Town is brilliantly original.

10) Scarlett Thomas, The End of Mr. Y

Not marketed a YA but older teens would adore this weird, heady fantasy with heavy literary pretensions. I love the idea of the Alex awards in the USA where non-YA books are rewarded for being great teen reads.