UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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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Tanya Byrne’s Top 10 UKYA books

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-Shaped Bruise, chooses her Top 10 UKYA books.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to read this book because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But as soon as I read the opening lines – I wish I had a boyfriend. I wish he lived in the wardrobe on a coat hanger. Whenever I wanted, I could get him out and he’d look at me the way boys do in films, as if I’m beautiful. – I knew it was a very special book.

Doing It by Melvin Burgess

With hindsight, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was by Doing It. I guess I’ve read so much YA where the most couples do is hold hands that I almost dropped this book several times when reading it. But sexy times aside, what I love most about Doing It is that it’s so honest. It gave me the courage to be more honest with my own book.

Entangled by Cat Clarke

I adore Entangled. It’s deliciously dark and very brave for a debut. Like Doing It, it’s breathtakingly honest and deals with issues like binge drinking and self-harming without being preachy or condescending. I also love the cover. [/shallow]

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

I’ve only just started reading this, but O to the M to the G. Not everyone will want to read this (that’s how I heard about it, actually, during a twitter discussion on censorship), but again this is a startlingly brave book. Are you sensing a theme here with UKYA?

Jessie Hearts NYC – Keris Stainton

I love New York so I want to draw hearts around this book, if you pardon the pun. It’s sweet and funny and I’m a bit in love with Finn. Of all the YA books I’ve read, he’s one of the few boys I still find myself thinking about. I can see him so clearly, standing on that curb with too much gel in his hair, trying to hail a cab with a bunch of peonies in his hand.

Just in Case – Meg Rosoff

I’m ashamed to admit that this is the only Meg Rosoff book I’ve read. I know. I know. But Just in Case is fantastic and, you won’t be surprised to hear, beautifully written. I’m also ashamed to admit that it took me far too long to make the Justin Case/Just in Case connection.

Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman

Bow down. Even you. *points* Yes, you. Why aren’t you bowing? This book. THIS BOOK. Yes, it’s disturbing and painful and so loud it’s uncomfortable to read at times, but it’s also tender and beautiful and if even a handful of the people who read it think about what it’s trying to say, then that makes it a very important book.

Stolen – Lucy Christopher

I couldn’t wait to read this book. I’ve always been fascinated by Stockholm Syndrome so I devoured this in one sitting. I wanted Christopher to go there, I waited for her to go there, but she didn’t. Perhaps she was right not to, after all, I’ve read far too many YA books where unhealthy relationships are portrayed as romantic and yeah, no more of that, please. All of that aside, the writing is stunning. The descriptions of the Outback had me sweating at times.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

I was going to put A Monster Calls on this list because that made me cry so much the bloke sitting opposite me on the train asked me if I was okay. But then I remembered that I haven’t read the final book in this trilogy because I don’t want it to end, that’s how much I love this book. I really can’t say more than that.

Wasted – Nicola Morgan

The premise of this book is very clever: Jack makes decisions based on the flip of a coin. In the end, you’re presented with two outcomes that you have to choose between. As I said, very clever. I was rapt.


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Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love.

Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

Visit Tabitha’s website


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Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time: Top 10 UKYA reads

The top ten UKYA faves chosen by Sophie of So Many Books, So Little Time

Choosing just ten UKYA books as my top ten is a near impossible task, but I shall try. I can’t possibly put them in any order though… Here they are:

Nobody’s Girl, Sarra Manning

Sarra Manning is one of the UK’s best writers of contemporary YA. Her protagonists are realistic, flawed and endlessly relatable and her toxic boys work their magic on your heart. Nobody’s Girl features Bea, shy, awkward and completely ordinary on her adventures in Paris with American boy Toph. One of my favourites of hers.

Junk, Melvin Burgess

Junk is one of the greatest YA novels. Period. It pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable to write about and did it in stunningly sparse and haunting prose. A must-read for everyone who caims to love YA.

How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff

Meg Rosoff’s debut blew my mind. I first read this when I was 12 and seven years later, I still count it as one of my favourites. Its narrative style is new and awkward and the subject of war and cousinly love puts a few people off. But for those who take the risk, it’ll definitely be rewarded.

Lucas, Kevin Brooks

Lucas is one of those books that will unexpectedly make you bawl your eyes out. It’s beautiful and utterly heartbreaking. Like Burgess, Kevin Brooks pushes the limits of gritty, contemporary realism and gives a stark glimpse into lives we couldn’t imagine.

The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Louise Rennison

I can remember buying each of the first four books on a Saturday with my pocket money, and then I pre-ordered each and every one after that. Hilariously funny and completely ridiculous – do not read these in public…

Stolen, Lucy Christopher

Written as a letter to her captor, Gemma’s second person narration captures our imagination. The imager is second-to-none and the story is effortlessly engaging. This novel made Lucy Christopher an auto-buy author for me.

Forbidden, Tabitha Suzuma

One of the most shocking and controversial novels I’ve ever read, Forbidden is breath-taking. After causing a war between my brain and my emotions over what was right and what was wrong, it tore my heart out and jumped on it for good measure. Some may be put off b the subject matter, but if you are, you’re seriously missing out. MISSING OUT.

David, Mary Hoffman

I’m picky about historical fiction, I really am, but I devoured this. It tells the imagined story behind one of the greatest works of art; Michelangelo’s statue, David. The mixture of history, art, politics and romance was enough to carry me away to renaissance Florence and never want to come back.

Skin Deep, Laura Jarratt

This is the book that I’ve read most recently from this list and it took me by complete surprise. Jenna’s struggle to feel beautiful after facial scarring and Ran’s struggle with the prejudice around him being a traveller were beautifully handled alongside a swoon-worthy romance. One of my favourite reads this year.

Blood Red Road, Moira Young

Young’s debut is one of the freshest and most original novels to come out of the dystopia craze. Between a phonetic dialect and the kick-ass Saba and her quest to find her brother, you can’t really ask for more. I can’t wait for the next book, Rebel Heart.