UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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.

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Miriam Halahmy’s Top 10 UKYA books

Miriam Halahmy, author of Hidden and Illegal, chooses her favourite UKYA books.

Dirty Work by Julia Bell : Child sex trafficking and a wake-up call for one young English girl who didn’t realise what a good life she already had. A slice of life we would rather turn away from.

Saving Rafael by Leslie Wilson : A mother and daughter hide a Jewish boy in Nazi Berlin. What you would have done in their situation? Love against the odds.

Being Billy by Phil Earle : What would it be like to be rejected by your mother and end up in care for 8 years? A realistic portrayal of the experience of being in care for many young people.

Killing Honour by Bali Rai : Tells the horrific story of the practice of killing young women for honour in some communities and how dangerous it can be for the whistle blower.

Double Cross by Malorie Blackman : Gritty and realistic portrayal of how kids end up in gangs and of postcode gang warfare. Fourth book in Noughts and Crosses series.

Exodus by Julie Bertagna : Dystopian novel set in a flooded world after climate change. Great depiction of a teenage girl taking the lead.

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett : Another dystopian or is it? You decide. Survival techniques in a freezing world, way more realistic than the Hunger Games.

The Brothers Story by Katherine Sturtevant : Atmospheric coming-of-age story set in 1683 in London during the famous ice fair.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff : If Holden Caulfield had been a girl he would have Daisy’s voice in this funny and powerful story of teenage love ( and sex) in war torn, near future England.

The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan : Two boys get in a car with a strange man. Read on if you dare. Powerful, dark, unpredictable.