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Never Evers is a dual-narrative book, just like Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison's engaging first book, Lobsters. The humour is pitched well ("Mums and random pointless comments are like dads and bad jokes. In a world where YA fantasy can start to feel a little same-y, Maresi dark – occasionally harrowing, yet always readable – stands out for its startling originality, and for the frightening plausibility of the dangerous world it creates. But his real acuity is in showing a child’s capacity to accept these extraordinary circumstances as “The Way of Things”.
This book has an enticing sense of fable, such that at moments it feels less like a war story than an eccentric modern myth What the narrator does not tell us is the purpose of Anna’s journey. Canadian Raziel Reid's bleak novel was inspired by the wretched murder of 15-year-old Larry Fobes King. It's one of the strong points of a vivid tale that the trauma is tied in with the mundane ways of life.
The book deals with online madness and the risks it brings and although the subject matter is troubling, there is still lots to enjoy. In recent years, many, many thrillers have been compared to Gillian Flynn’s 2012 bestseller Gone Girl.
Sarah Pinborough’s masterfully crafted YA novel 13 Minutes might be one of the few to actually merit the comparison. In the opening chapters, popular, pretty Tasha is found in a frozen river one icy morning, her body grown so cold that she has technically been dead for 13 minutes. Parts of the story are told from her point of view, as she recovers from the incident and starts trying to piece together her memories – and parts are told from the point of view of her former friend, insecure outsider Becca. The book’s evocation of the dark world of secondary school, with all its petty betrayals, casual cruelties and toxic friendships, is painfully spot on. The second novel from Clare Furniss (after the enjoyable Year of the Rat) has two perspectives and intertwining stories from Hattie, a pregnant and troubled teenager, and her great-aunt Gloria. Imma's parents are dead, her brother is on the run and she has to survive in the small town of Sand, which is surrounded by bleak desert and full of mean gunslingers. Imma and her brother Nikki dream of joining a legendary band of outlaws who can deflect bullets with their hands. North Face, the sequel to The Everest Files, is topical and dramatic (human rights protestors being beaten with batons by soldiers feature) but the heart of the story is the captivating rescue attempt on the north face of Everest by 18-year-old Ryan Hart and a Tibetan girl called Tashi. Malorie Blackman has a nature affinity for space tales and this shines through in her bold new novel Chasing the Stars, which is set in 2164.
Olivia (Vee) and her brother Aidan are alone in space and heading back to earth, the sole survivors of a virus that has annihilated the rest of the crew. Blackman depicts with panache the scariness of being alone in outer space but things change dramatically when Vee meets her future lover Nathan during a mission to save survivors from the Mazon, an alien race.
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock uses memories and events of her childhood in Alaska (a place where her sister had her hair chopped off for bragging about it) in her affecting debut coming-of-age novel, which is written from multiple first-person perspectives (with Ruth, Dora, Alyce and Hank) and set over the four seasons of a year. Some of the best young adult books of the year so far I saw coming from months away, like the final installments in irresistible series from Maggie Stiefvater and Marie Rutkoski.
White’s meticulously researched, gorgeously transporting historical fiction, the first (hallelujah!) in a series, starts to answer a question the author put to herself: what if Vlad the Impaler had been female? To an outside observer, intrepid Victorian heroine Faith may seem boring and subservient, but beneath her dull exterior lies a mind bursting with curiosity, intelligence, and passion.
In this soul-tugging southern-set debut, Dill Early is the son of a zealous Pentecostal preacher and snake handler, who is unrepentant despite his imprisonment for a sickening crime. Reviled because of the dark stars she was born under, Maya lives like a leper among the vicious-tongued women of her raja father’s harem. Fleeing a childish mother, a stalled life, and a guilty conscience, 15-year-old Anna runs away to Los Angeles to live with her D-list actress sister.
In five linked novellas hopscotching forward through time, Peevyhouse imagines the effect on humanity of the discovery of a parallel world lying just beyond our own. Lee brilliantly spins a historical tale in which Chinese American teen Mercy Wong finagles herself entrance to a genteel, all-white girls’ school, a nearly impossible feat in early 20th-century San Francisco.
Cassie’s rage at and longing for the mother who first emotionally abandoned her, then responded to her rebellion by institutionalizing her, are braided together like a rope. Imogene, a mystery writer’s mystery novel–obsessed daughter, finds herself embroiled in a case of her own when her father goes missing, vanishing as completely as her mother did more than a decade ago.
Amanda is a new girl in a small town, testing a tentative reconciliation with her estranged father and trying to fit in with new friends and an intriguing crush. The main characters in Lobsters were older teens, whereas here they are mostly 14-year-olds. The book is set in a fictional island Abbey: a retreat and a place of quiet knowledge, where young girls and women can work and learn together – and where men are forbidden from setting foot. When CS Lewis’s heroes tumbled through a wardrobe into Narnia, they just counted their blessings that they had fur coats, and soldiered on.
And yet the story suffers at times from its ambitiously philosophical narrator, who tends both to state the obvious (“seven-year-old girls are a hugely varied bunch”) and to talk in riddles: Anna leads “an existence predicated on the value of insufficiencies”, whatever that means.


The Swallow Man says that he is on a quest to find an endangered bird, but he doesn’t seem to look very hard for it – and it doesn’t explain why they spend so much time walking in circles.
This is an important novel, about what can happen when you inspire hatred because you don't fit into any supposed 'normal' category. Lizzie is a strong character, her reality TV star sister Cheska is amusing and there's even a moment when someone eats a fried Nutella sandwich. But, while several of these have managed to replicate the book’s tension and killer mid-point twist, far fewer have matched Flynn’s more subtle qualities. It's a journey-of-discovery tale and a spirited one both in telling a present-day story and one from the postwar era. It's sharp about the modern celebrity-paparazzi life but there are touching moments (wait for Nina's David Bowie dance) and the book captures how seminal songs such as Kashmir and In My Life become so integral to enjoying life. The novel is written with flair by someone who really knows the territory: as I was reading the book in April 2016, author Matt Dickinson is out there on another Everest expedition. The former Children's Laureate also brings her passion for Shakespeare into a space-age love story that draws inspiration from Othello. You like Vee right from the start, when we are introduced to a youngster who loves 20th and 21st-century films and who delights in re-enacting lightsaber fights. The ensuing gripping story has plenty of strong emotions to play with: love, hate, fear, jealousy and more than a dash of betrayal. When her scientist father moves their family from London to a clannish island following a scandal, Faith is desperate to get to the bottom of things…especially once he turns up dead.
Dill’s best friend and secret crush, Lydia, is a proud outsider in their small town, a fashion blogger who plans to ride her self-created fame the hell out of Dodge after graduation.
With her gifted, addicted captain father at the helm of the Temptation, and a motley crew of fellow ship hands onboard, teenaged Nix travels through time and space, between fantasy and reality, by way of hand-drawn maps. Over the course of the first three books, she fell in with the raven boys—doomed Gansey, angry dream thief Ronan, proud, self-sacrificing Adam, and barely-there Noah—helping them on a dangerous quest. On what is supposed to be her wedding day, she’s saved from politically motivated self-sacrifice by a mysterious stranger, who takes her away to his lonely palace. As earth’s atmosphere sickens, and social media sharing advances to the point that privacy is a relic and transient online stardom the best way to make a buck, her characters dream of the Other Place, intersect with its people, and grapple with the mystery of its existence. But her journey is a rocky one, and Mercy is on the brink of being thrown out when a historic earthquake strikes the city, killing rich and poor and shaking people of all stripes out of their houses. In the park where refugees gather, Lee evokes a place out of time, a tiny, hard-won idyll in the midst of a broken city. Burying her hurt beneath a hardboiled pose, Imogene draws on everything she has read to find the parents who’ve abandoned her. But Amanda used to be Andrew, before recognizing, after a hate-fueled attack and suicide attempt, that transitioning was the only way to make her life worth living. So although the language has been adapted for the younger end of the YA market, it's not resulted in any loss of wit.
This enclosed world, whose food and customs are vividly, tactilely conveyed, is a place of comfort and safety – but, when troubled runaway Jai arrives, horror is quick to follow. Despite its fantasy elements, the book is firmly rooted in real-life darkness, tackling themes such as rape, slavery and honour killing. Although there are familiar themes (such as not being sure who the hero can trust) there are lots of twists and pacy dialogue in this first instalment of a thriller trilogy.
Anna, the seven-year-old heroine of this debut novel by Gavriel Savit, belongs to the same tradition. And while Anna senses her companion is the source of “miracles”, these are never quite revealed. The book deals with hate, homophobia, celebrity and the aching loneliness of modern life for some teenagers. Her dark, pithy observations about the realities of being a woman, for instance, or her disturbingly compelling narrators. The fact that book is set among 16-year-old girls – a community in which “looks” and social status are everything – simply extenuates these. Tasha’s two closest friends begin acting strangely, and there are hints that they may have had something to do with her immersion in the river.
There is lots to enjoy in the gin-supping OAP Gloria, and the novel deals sensitively with the subject of dementia, a rare subject, obviously, in YA fiction. And you can almost smell the smells she describes, including the pungent odour of deer blood.
And some were a lovely surprise, Trojan horsing their way into my TBR under unassuming covers. Certain he was murdered, Faith ransacks his possessions, and discovers a tree that bears fruit only upon hearing lies. The third member of their tiny tribe is Travis, a gentle giant with an abusive father, who escapes into an internet relationship and the world of his beloved fantasy series every chance he gets. So long as the map is original, signed by its creator, and has never been used before, the ship can navigate to whatever realm the map has frozen in time, whether it be real or purely mythical. But who, exactly, is her new husband, and what darkness lies behind the chilly beauty of her new home?


And her voice is perfect: forthright and earthy, equal parts wistful beauty and teen truculence. Facing the challenge of making readers care afresh for each new narrator and their increasingly desperate plights, Peevyhouse grips you every time. More than just a mystery, Hollow Places explores what it is to have and to miss a mother, in a wry, self-aware voice I couldn’t resist. Flashbacks to her disorienting years living as Andrew punctuate the book, but primarily the story belongs to Amanda, a gentle beauty whose sense of self-preservation in a normative small town might be outweighed by her desire to share all of herself with the boy she’s falling in love with.
Never Evers is a lively story centred around a boy (Jack) and a girl (Mouse) from different educational institutions who go to the same ski resort on a school trip.
The book succeeds ultimately because you like both main characters. As she tries to come to terms with the problems of growing up, we see Mouse through her own witty internal dialogues. But it’s also, ultimately, an optimistic tale: a moving celebration of sisterhood and survival.
I wasn't entirely sure that the mystery baddies, a sinister group called the National Organisation for Advanced Health, known for short as NOAH, were menacing enough, but I liked the mystery around the dragon drawing made by the mystery River Boy, who takes the name Jed, and the way you can follow clues to solve the puzzle about the quest he is on.
The story begins in 1939 when Anna’s father, a university professor from Krakow, is taken by the Germans, and the destitute Anna is adopted by the Swallow Man – a nameless fugitive who can entice birds from the trees, and who becomes her companion as they spend the war drifting across the country on foot.
But for all its flaws, this book has an enticing sense of fable, such that at moments it feels less like a war story than an eccentric modern myth. At the heart of When Everything Feels like the Movies is Jude, and his voice sings loud, explicit and sad.
As he tries to solve the mystery of her disappearance, we also get to see her through her on-line exchanges. Both girls begin to feel as if no one can be trusted – and the reader is thrust into exactly the same position.
Here are 14 moving, funny, ambitious, astonishing, gorgeous, and darkly magical YA books released over the past six months that deserve a place atop your to-read list. The plot thickens as Faith uses the tree to spread falsehoods throughout the town in a desperate quest for the truth, wielding others’ perceptions of her against them.
Over the course of their senior year, the three grapple with impending separation, and the struggle to define and declare themselves in the face of other people’s expectations.
Stiefvater’s storytelling is lyrical and layered, full of sucker-punch twists, creepy darkness, sly humor, and pagan magic.
An arresting, compassionate reminder of how far some have to go to claim the lives they need to live, written by a transgender author who kicks off with a generous and enlightening foreword. Finnish author Maria Turtschaninoff's deceptively simple, folktale-like prose is a joy, and the voice of young Maresi (our first person narrator) always feels distinct and believable.
And the iconic central London settings – including St Paul's and the Shard – are appropriately dramatic. Savit brilliantly dramatises the adventures of survival, as they hide in caves, dupe border guards, and scavenge food from dead soldiers. Every myth, to hark back to Lewis, contains “something inexpressible” – and that seems to be the case here. The author's controversial debut novel became the subject of a petition to the Canada Council for the Arts for Reid's prestigious governor general's literary award to be revoked on the ground of its content. Lush writing, a plot that effortlessly weaves together past and present, a high-stakes heist, and a completely earned love triangle round out a fantastic fantasy I wish was a series. The story concludes with this year’s The Raven King, in which, yes, first kisses are had, lives are lost, and we learn that one of our favorite ships will very much sail.
Chokshi weaves a mystical fantasy that drips with lush enchantments, pushing past the tropes and older tales it nods toward to walk a fresher, more perilous path.
Mercy’s first-person narration is colored by her fortune-teller mother’s practice, full of lovely insights on Chinese folk beliefs, myth, and medicine. When Joseph is sent to a foster family, he finds a friend at last in teenager Jack, who says he will help him find the baby – Jupiter – that he has never seen.
It had everything you needed if you didn't need anything at all," Jude, a gender non-conformist, says. The book is spooky, funny, and enchanting, doing justice to its massive cast and all your unanswered questions.
You hope that the second chance of living with a loving family rather than an abusive father will work out for Joseph but this is a novel with a strong sense of foreboding, hinted at in the memorably bleak description of a yellow dog drowning in the cold and icy waters in Maine.



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