So once again, Christmas is over & we stare down the barrel of a brand new year. I’ve never done one of these round ups of my reading before, but 2013 has been an absolutely storming year for YA, Teen & Children’s Fiction, hitting comedy, fantasy, sci-fi & contemporary with some exciting & passionate authors. So without further yammering by yours truly, lets get one with it!
A stunning début from one of the hottest new publishers of YA literature at the moment (Hot Key Books), Fearsome Dreamer is a brilliantly paced fusion of Science Fiction & Fantasy, focusing around individuals with the ability to teleport. Laure’s novel is gloriously well written, with a deep, textured world & layers of mystery waiting to be unfolded. It’s set for big things.
Part one of a brand new series from the Bartimaeus author, Lockwood & Co takes the classic ensemble style of Percy Jackson or Harry Potter, but with a delightfully gothic twist, replacing gods with ghosts. A book I just know I would’ve become obsessed with as a 9 year old obsessed with all things dark & spooky, The Screaming Staircase isn’t light on laughter though, & with a very Doctor Who/Sherlock style lead – It’s sure to capture imaginations as the series goes on.
Phil is a charming author with a deep understanding of troubled youth. Heroic is a harrowing story of war, told not just from the front, but from home, allowing the story to examine the effects tension & stress have under combat situations, as well as in the helpless environment of an East London council estate. Heroic also looks deep into the bonds of family & friendship, & has a powerful message behind it, lending it a serious emotional punch, as well as bringing attention to the very misunderstood subject of Post-Traumatic Stress in Young Adults. All in all, Phil has done a wonderful job at a moving story once more.
A one-off kick-ass Dystopian novel set in a United Kingdom taken over by a harsh, totalitarian police force, ACID is an adrenaline fuelled ride full of action, mystery & plot twists, all topped off with a strong, direct heroine with a real edge to her. Blending Orwellian surveillance & social commentary with pulse-pounding action, ACID grips the reader from the outset & doesn’t let go until the very last page. Perfect for people who’ve been devouring Hunger Games & Divergent series, Emma Pass is great at keeping the reader engrossed with high tension drama.
6. Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti
One of the books I’ve yet to do a full review of, Monkey Wars is a unique story of gang warfare between two tribes of Monkey’s on the streets of India. Despite sounding like a lovely animal tale, Monkey Wars is smart, sharp & brutal, soaked in gore & betrayal. It’s a classic story in one way, very reminiscent of Romeo & Juliet, but with an energy that literally crackles off the page. Constantly high stakes, with emotional turmoil & political rivalry, this is a visceral book that would be ideal for fans of fantasy & war novels alike.
Archie the Geek is back, in Andy’s follow-up to Close Encounters of the Girl Kind – And the laughs are strong with this one. Crammed to bursting with references to nerd culture, & a big feature on Live Action Roleplaying, Andy fully throws his passion for all things Geek into his writing, & that honesty & passion makes the book feel so much more personal to him. Geek culture is big business write now, with shows like Big Bang Theory written by non-Geeks for non-Geeks, so it’s refreshingly satisfying to have someone doing it from the fan side of things. Also, as with the first Geekhood novel, Andy works in the true emotional sweetness & turmoil of being an adolescent teenage boy, & all the embarrassing scenarios that go with it, in naked, cringesome honesty – Helpful to every young adult struggling through not being the strongest, fastest, toughest kid in school.
A modern day Animals of Farthing Wood, with a post-apocalyptic twist, The Last Wild was funny, touching & engaging, blending environmental issues with a bold main character, determined to do the right thing. The world of The Last Wild is wrapped up in layers of mystery begging to be unfolded, but with a bleak beauty that admires the determined power of nature, & rather than taking the usual stance of man vs nature, it shows how greed can overcome humanities normal moral compass. It’s a book of passion, power & with a real message to get across, a must read.
A dark, beautiful story of friendship, young love & loss, Follow Me Down is surprisingly witty & even brings up a several chuckles despite the bleak tale of murder that weaves its way through this classic English boarding school tale. Tanya has a beautiful way with words, & her passages almost slide into your brain like poetry, creating a melancholy beauty to her writing that haunts your very core, yet makes you smile all the while. A rare talent to make something so horrifying still be so life-affirming.
Possibly the most unique book I’ve read in my life, David Levithan’s Every Day is a superb examination of life & humanity, a window into understanding the struggles & troubles that make us all different. From another superb YA publisher (Electric Monkey), Levithan brings his quirky style of modern language & pop-culture knowledge with an emotional punch & a dark, realistic & heart-wrenchingly bleak conclusion. With his examination of our differences & similarities, Every Day is one of the most important novels in years for promoting acceptance & understanding, & is perfect for fans of bittersweet romance.
Beautiful, compelling, shocking & lingering. Patrick Ness is possibly the best writer working in Teen fiction today, & More Than This is a true testament to that fact. Dark & thoughtful, the plot is constantly shifting, keeping the reader on edge throughout, with each chapter dropping a cliffhanger onto your head & blowing your mind. It examines life, death, survival, love & friendship with a soft eye, before ramping up the action & tension, turning a haunting mystery into a full blown thriller in the second half. This book left me unable to read anything for a week afterwards, & still makes me think about its themes even now.
That’s the lot! Well, the top ten anyway. There’s been dozens of fantastic books published in 2013, which is truly inspiring, flying in the face of people who say books are struggling. They’re not. You just need to know where to look.
Here’s to many more in 2014!
Thanks for Reading!