Mainly aimed at young adults, but high quality and readable for adults too, Young Adult Fiction navigates emotional stories and characters searching for who they are. This diverse genre can feature aspects from any other genre, from Family Dramas to Fantasy with a stop off at Horror and Historical Fiction along the way.
Three young friends set out on a summer road trip, each one carrying secrets and sorrows. Squashed into a battered old car, fuelled by warm beer and pub pies, they bicker and tease, with the ease that only comes from deep familiarity. We know even as they set out that they will never make another trip like this, that it’s the closing moment to one part of their lives. Filled with the sense of hot, dusty days, the lull between end and beginning, this is a classic summertime novel. More than just a coming-of-age story, it perfectly captures a transformative moment in the lives of its three central characters, and turns it into something that rings true for us all. ~ Andrea Reece
A deeply emotional, dramatic, and refreshingly original story for young (or older) adults, set in the late 1990’s in Australia. Teenager Sam’s mother dies in his arms on New Year’s Eve, mourning and traumatised, he moves in with his estranged Aunt and cousins, and his life is forever altered. The first chapter simply and vividly set the scene, I could look around me, almost touch, smell, hear my surroundings. Claire Zorn writes with eloquent empathy, yet doesn’t hide from heartache. As I read I could see Sam’s pain as a stinging physical entity. I found myself completely immersed in the story, the words caught hold of me, picked me up and ran. Sam’s raw emotions scorch the pages, he is the focus, yet the surrounding characters are fascinating in their own right. I adored the ending, where it left me, how it left me feeling. At times hope seems so very far away, yet it is very much a part of this story. ’One Would Think The Deep’ is a beautifully written tale, tender yet penetrating and powerful, it offered itself to me and let me sink into its depths.
Menace, madness and medieval adventure abound in this thrilling fourth volume of the atmospheric Order of Darkness series by a doyenne of historical fiction. Luca Vero belongs to the Order of Darkness and has been charged with investigating disturbing occurrences that seem to herald the imminent end of the world. Travelling through medieval Europe with Lady Isolde and her companion Ishraq, he witnesses the alarming outbreak of “dancing sickness”. As Luca seeks to discover the truth behind this phenomenon – are the victims possessed by Satan? – Isolde herself succumbs to an overwhelming urge to dance after acquiring an irresistible pair of scarlet shoes from a travelling tradesman. Alongside being an epic adventure, and richly rewarding for history and mystery buffs, a powerful thread about rejecting prejudice and hatred weaves its way through this novel. “You have to do the right thing, not just the certain thing... Surely you want to be a good lord, not just a powerful one?” Such remarks about social responsibility and acting honorably resonate sharply, as does a potent sense of female empowerment. While women were believed to “have little determination and they are not strong”, the principle female protagonists here display much resolve, with Isolde determined to raise an army to win back her inheritance from her brother, and Ishraq being a highly educated free woman. ~ Joanne Owen Click here to view all titles in the 'Order of Darkness' series; They are: Vol One: Changeling Vol Two: Stormbringers Vol Three: Fools' Gold Vol Four: Dark Tracks A note from Philippa Gregory: “I am delighted to move into a new area of writing. I know I have many young adult readers already and it will be a pleasure to write a series especially for them. Bringing history alive is a great joy and to bring it to a younger generation doubly so.”
This seminal exploration of mental health begins with an explosion. Olive is on the edge, unable to cope with the volume of noise and people in the world: “I hate humans. I hate that they’re everywhere. But the human I hate most is me”. After a disturbing episode during her dad’s birthday celebrations, she agrees to attend Camp Reset, “the country’s first residential camp for brain wellness”, where young clients are given therapy and encouraged to identify their core beliefs in a plush country setting. Olive knows what her core belief is - “I’m a bad person” - and so a key to her healing will be to switch that into “I am a good person who tries my best.” While struggling with this, and inspired by the “suicide algorithm” the Camp Reset doctors have devised, Olive is struck by her own idea for a cure. She’s a compelling, creative fireball of a character and, though her condition is complex and her journey often dark, she’s also frequently entertaining. After enlisting the help of introverted maths-lover Lewis, it’s not long before Olive’s idea evolves into a wildly big-scale project. Unflinchingly honest and empathetic, this intense novel demonstrates the primary importance of kindness and compassion, that it’s never a persons fault that they’re unwell, and just how essential self-care is. Ladies and Gents, I give you one of the year’s most important YA novels - an engaging and thought-provoking book with tremendous value. Holly Bourne has done it again. - Joanne Owen
“All children are afraid of the dark,” says ten-year-old Mafalda sagely, and she knows this more than most, for her world is misting over. At some point in the next six months she will lose her sight to Stargardt Disease. Mafalda tries to get on with life but, as the days pass, the mist’s darkness descends ever faster, leaving her increasingly lonely. The novel’s universal, book-for-all-ages power has echoes of The Little Prince. Indeed, de Saint-Exupéry’s classic is referenced here by the inspiring one-of-a kind Estella, a school caretaker Mafalda befriends, who advises her to find her rose, “the thing that’s essential to you”, just like the Little Prince. Mafalda measures her vision in paces from a very special cherry tree. And, movingly, the book’s five parts are headed with titles that point to the deterioration of her sight, starting with Part One Seventy Metres, the distance from which she can see the cherry tree as the novel begins. Estella delivers further vital advice later in the novel: “To live in fear is not to live at all”, and it’s Estella who helps make a truly magical, heart-rending ending. Readers of all ages will be drawn deep into Mafalda’s poignantly pitch-perfect narrative. Younger readers will identity with, for example, how she knows when her parents are discussing something important but can’t quite grasp the meaning, while adult readers will fill in the blanks Mafalda is left puzzling over. Inspired by the author's own experience of Stargardt Disease, this is a dazzlingly tender and timeless tale of love and courage. - Joanne Owen
Contemporary teenage life and the supernatural combined in a dark tale of freedom and coercion | On the surface, this is a story about a girl who discovers she's a witch, in a world where that is a highly dangerous thing to be. But it's contemporary life that really fascinates Melvin Burgess and this is as much a story of growing up and independence as it is a story of dark magic. It also contains a thoroughly disturbing dissection of coercion and control as central character Bea is manipulated into doing things that cause irrevocable harm to herself and others. The book opens with Bea and her family returning home after a day out. Crossing the moors they run into The Hunt, violent supernatural creatures tracking and attacking other witches. Bea is able to stop them, powerfully summoning help but revealing her supernatural ability at the same time. With the awakening of her witch nature, the world becomes a different place, more beautiful but more frightening as she is surrounded by visions that only she can see. Befriended by other witches she is given a terrible choice: safety and freedom with them means she must leave her own human family for ever. Under pressure from her parents she decides to give up her new powers for a 'normal' life, but is snatched away at the last minute by the wild boy she is beginning to love - is it a rescue, or an abduction? It's typical of Burgess that the book raises so many questions about temptation and individual choice, freedom and responsibility; typical too that the consequences of Bea's decisions are shown to be so painful, and permanent. Powerful, uncompromising reading. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: creepy YA psychological thriller Sarah Epstein’s well-crafted psychological thriller will keep readers on their toes, and nervously checking over their shoulders too. Aged just 8, Tash witnessed her imaginary friend the sinister Sparrow kidnap a little girl from a fair. Nine years and lots of therapy later, Tash has learned to keep quiet about what happened, convinced along with her parents that what she saw was just the imagination of a little girl desperate for attention. But when circumstances draw her back to the area, back to the fairground, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. Can she believe her eyes? Can we believe her? Dark and twisty, this is hard to put down and good, creepy fun. ~ Andrea Reece For more unreliable narrators and psychological adventures don’t miss Little Liar by Julia Gray.
In a Nutshell: Mystery, memory, manipulation | A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ten steps ahead of everyone around her. But further tragedy follows at her new school when Hanna, her roommate, falls to her death. While Jess tries to figure out who’s behind the mysterious postcards she finds in the wake of Hanna’s death, she falls for new boy Dan and confides in him as it emerges that Professor Coleman wants her back. A tangle of questions arise as Jess tries to keep herself safe, and the answers are revealed with terrific tension as a series of damning discoveries set the stage for an explosive showdown. Recommended for YA readers who like their fiction fast-paced and full of psychological thrills and chills. Do you have a memory for faces? Could you be a Super Recogniser? Head over to the University of Greenwich website to take the test… greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com
In a Nutshell: Pitch-perfect, vibrantly-voiced verse for secondary school studentsThese poignant, punch-packing poems explore the varied emotional lives of secondary school pupils facing the giddy transition from being “the biggest to the smallest...in the secondary school jungle” like “gazelles in a field full of lions”. Complex tangles of feelings are laid bare with heart-rending authenticity, from the headiness of he-said-she-said gossip, to the bewildering “who the hell do you sit with?” loneliness that strikes when your best friend’s off school (Thanks a lot, Belinda). Vending Machine is an incredible piece of writing, encapsulating the anguish and anger of betrayal, of having your heart trampled on, and then the bliss of recovery when your heart feels “a little lighter”. Another personal favourite is the sublime Dear Mum, BTEC about a student “drawing different plans” after realising they are ill-suited to exams - plans they hope will make Mum proud. There are jubilant themes too, such as the breathless, time-stopping “WHAM!” of instant attraction, the jangling joy of being at the bottom of a celebratory pile-on after you’ve scored, and the magic of those inspirational, unforgettable teachers who take time to share a book they think you “should try”. A chorus of entertaining, emotionally-charged insights and observations sing and dance through these tender, playful pages, with each short verse alive with empathetic, true-to-life experiences. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Seminal seven-authored feast of fate, friendship and growing up This sparky collaborative novel by a glorious gaggle of top YA authors (Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood) centres around six memorable young adults whose paths cross at a TV broadcasting house: “The swot, the fraud, the dutiful daughter, the child star, the fan girl and the asshole”, all strangers who, “for whatever reason...ended up in the same lift at the same time.” Given their wildly different backgrounds, which range from working class Sasha to “asshole” posh boy Hugo, it’s unlikely they’d have met in anything but unusual circumstances. Indeed, their lives become bound together by a life-changing event that happens in the lift and compels them to meet year after year to mark the intense, affecting experience. The narratives are cleverly and seamlessly interwoven, with the same events told from different perspectives: Through recounting each character’s highs and lows, and the complications of their relationships with each other, this novel explores big issues with engaging authenticity - Alzheimer’s, grief, misogyny, shifting sexuality, falling in love, sliding out of love, and true friendship (i.e. the kind that doesn’t judge). Humorous lines are launched from all angles too, a personal favourite being Velvet’s “I look like I’m in bad fancy dress as a greasy-haired teenage version of Theresa May”. As the years pass, all six experience seismic shifts in how they see the world; transformations that start as an “excruciating, unreachable itch” and lead to “the realization that there’s more to life”. Gripping, entertaining and emotionally smart, this has the power to make readers laugh, cry, think and fall in love with YA fiction. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: passionate love story continues – in hell | Zoe and X are soulmates, even though she’s a 21st century teenager and he’s a bounty hunter from the Lowlands, ie Hell. They were brought together in The Edge of Everything, but separated at the end when he sacrificed himself for her and returned to the Lowlands. But never say forever – in this equally torrid and thrilling episode the two are reunited, Zoe recklessly plunging into the underworld to find X, now involved in a search for his missing mother. The book’s appeal lies not just in its steamy romance; Zoe is a sharp, appealing character and readers will love the supporting cast too. Despite being set in Hell, there are a surprising numbers of laughs while the ending will satisfy everyone. This is one to recommend to fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | An achingly funny, touching story for anyone who has been thrown in at the deep end.
Life-lessons, loves, laughs & LOADS more!
Especially compiled for Young Adults, this section is awash with wonderful worlds to escape to, great stories and characters you’ll love.
The years leading up to your 20s are such a vibrant and vivid time in your life. Adventure, friendships, self-discovery are all there in spades, but there’s frustration too, impatience and a strong desire to be understood. This section of fantastic books for young adult readers is filled with stories that reflect all of these feelings in settings that will give flight to your imagination. Be inspired by tales of self-discovery, run the rocky road of romance, battle big issues in mysterious worlds, beat the bleak future of dystopian regimes, or laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. There’s something here for all tastes and moods from half-god heroes to horseback holidays and literally everything in between.
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