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All reviews tagged with Young Adult

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The Burning City

New York summers can be hot, very hot. And the intensity of the heat on the city streets and parks beats down on Heller Highland, just turned 16, cycling at speed through the streets to deliver messages conveying loss of one sort or another to people he has never met. Heller has a gift for…

The Chain That Binds The Earth

Sean O’Connaill is a man with a mission and his first novel for young people has a very clear agenda. He wants to persuade us that there is a singular root for all the evil in the world: from environmental danger to aggression of all kinds, ranging from the atrocities of history to the casual…

The Colour of the Sun

It’s the middle of the summer holidays and a boy named Jimmy Killen has been killed. Davie believes he knows who is responsible – another boy named Zorro Craig, whose family has a well-established feud with the Killens. Author David Almond lays his cards on the table with the very first lines of his haunting…

The Crash

A terrible accident serves as a catalyst to change the lives of a group of young people. Best friends Sophie and Tye are hanging out in front of the TV when a car crashes through the window and into the room. The accident leaves Tye in a coma and Sophie struggles to find a way…

The Crystal Run: Shield of Lies

The Crystal Run introduced us to the long-running dystopian battle between the lands of Carcassia and Kanabia, and two young people caught up in its crossfire: Kaia, a girl brought up and trained to face danger to protect her native Carcassia; and Joe Hunter, an ordinary English boy who literally fell into danger when his…

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is an extraordinary book. The narrator is a 15-year-old boy, Christopher, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The book opens with the murder of his neighbour’s dog, and Christopher sets himself the task of finding out who killed it. This is a daunting task for someone who knows a great deal about maths but very little…

The Definition of Us

Florence, Jasper, Wilf and Andrew are patients at Manor Lane Diagnostic and Therapy Centre. They don’t believe they have anything in common except their dependency on Manor Lane’s psychotherapist Howard Green. When he suddenly leaves the centre with no explanation they decide together to track him down to ensure his wellbeing and get the answers…

The Demon’s Surrender

The Ryves brothers and their friends are back in this final instalment of the Demon’s Lexicon series. The story picks up in the aftermath of the big showdown against the powerful Magicians at the end of The Demon’s Covenant, when more than a few characters made life-changing decisions. And true to the previous entries, Sarah…

The Deviants

A once tight group of friends – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – grew apart in the wake of a tragedy. Now Ella is trying to balance training for the Commonwealth games with her relationship with Max. But when a cruel trick causes the friends to reunite, the tragic past rears its ugly head…

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

Mafalda is a nine-year-old girl suffering from Stargardt disease, which causes gradual vision loss and eventual blindness. With the doctors estimating that she has only six months before her vision fails completely, Mafalda begins to write a list of all the things she loves and won’t be able to do any more. All children are…

The Electrical Venus

Living in Georgian England, Mim and Alex have grown up as misfits in Grainger’s traveling circus. Mim, whose mother was an English Duchess and whose father was a slave, has always been an outsider due to the colour of her skin. The only bright spot in her life is her friendship with Alex, a boy…

The Facts Speak for Themselves

This is an extraordinary piece of fiction. After three readings I’m still only scratching the surface of one of the most intriguing, unsettling and involving books I have read in recent years. Ostensibly the story of a 13-year-old girl called Linda, told in her own voice, it challenges the reader to come up with his…

The Fallen: Aerie and Reckoning

Now that angels are firmly established as the new vampire, Sniegoski’s novel continues the story of Aaron Corbet, a typical teen but one with weightier matters to deal with than usual. Aaron is a Nephilim, a creature born of a human mother and an angel father. His destiny is to join the fallen angels hiding…

The Family Tree

Peet’s emotionally charged book is not one that will be easily forgotten. It is a story of family, specifically the breakdown of young Benjamin’s family. When Benjamin returns to his childhood home and sees the derelict state of his father’s old treehouse, he recounts to us the story of how his parents’ marriage broke down…

The Gifted, The Talented and Me

Meet 15-year-old Sam and his family as they uproot from the familiar environs of their home in Stevenage to the bright lights of London, following a rise in the family’s fortunes. This move affects all members of the family and we read how they all try and cope with it in different ways. It causes…

The Harder They Fall

This funny and thought-provoking book is the latest offering from Barrington Stoke’s super-readable teen series. It is a great book for all readers. It focuses on friendship and family. It also looks at the all too common problems of poverty and bullying through the eyes of the geeky and highly likeable protagonist Cal, who volunteers…

The Hawthorn Crown

Anyone who has grown up in Ireland will have heard of changelings at some time, the fairy children left behind when human children are stolen by fairies. Our sympathies usually go with the human family, but Helen Falconer invites us to consider things from the perspective of the fairy child—especially when she grows up into…

The House of Mountfathom

Luke Mountfathom is the son of two powerful Draiochta, an ancient order of magic users sworn to use their power to aid the Irish government. But Ireland is on the brink of war, and Luke and the Draiochta find themselves fighting to preserve peace. Rich, folklore-inspired fantasy set in a time of civil and political…

The Hurting

Set against the backdrop of the dramatic landscape of Norway’s icy fjords, vertiginous mountains and vast dark forests, The Hurting is inspired by Nordic noir with a fairy-tale twist of the cautionary kind and contains more than one passing reference to Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. English teenager Nell, a gifted singer-songwriter, has moved from Manchester to…

The Invasion

Peadar O’Guilin possesses that rare literary talent, a gift for creating characters and images so visceral, so real, that they remain with you years later. I reviewed The Inferior for Inis over a decade ago – and I’m still describing it and recommending it to anyone interested in genre bending sci-fi. With this sequel to…

The Irish Civil War 1922-1923: Ava’s Diary

The Irish Civil War was an extremely violent period of Irish History, one full of bloodshed, carnage and fighting between sisters and brothers. Ava is experiencing a time of turmoil in her own life nowadays, and this is recorded through her diary. One day she and her mysterious friend Mal discover a treasure trove of…

The Jungle

This book is something of an education about a decidedly unusual environment. Set in the headline-coveting refugee camp in Calais – aka The Jungle – it mainly concerns Mico, A fifteen-year-old from strife-ridden Kenya, his older tentmates Hassan and Sy, and his female friend, the tearaway Leila. Hungry and disconsolate, Mico and Leila dream of…

The Kissing Game

Unlike Chambers’s last work, the 800-plus-page This Is All, his new book – a collection of short stories – is a slim volume, though almost as broad in its scope as the previous. The topics covered include murder, human trafficking, human (and animal) nature, the environment, religion, injury, grief and love. The reader may reasonably…

The Last Days of Archie Maxwell

This is the first time I’ve read a book that is printed with a dyslexia-friendly typeface, lots of white space, a bigger font, and black text on a slightly yellow background. I wish more books were printed this way! Annabel Pitcher’s young-adult book handles complex issues deftly and with grace. Archie Maxwell is struggling with…

The Lines We Cross

Michael and Mina come from two very different backgrounds and belief systems, but when Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s school, they slowly start to become friends, until Mina finds out that his parents are founding members of an anti-immigration group. This is especially difficult for Mina to deal with, seeing as her family had…

The Lost Witch

This extraordinary book captivates from the get-go with a strange, heart-stopping opening chapter involving a car ride in torrential rain and a quad bike hunt for hares. One of these hares appears to speak, while another has only one eye, in which can be glimpsed ‘worlds upon worlds within worlds’. These eerie happenings presage Bea…

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Rukhsana is a 17-year-old Muslim teenager, of Bangladeshi parents, living in Seattle. She is also a lesbian, a fact she keeps secret from her parents and extended family. Rukhsana has plans to go to college in California, dreaming of eventually working in NASA. Rukhsana is a strong female character for readers to identify with. She…

The M Word

Maggie’s mum is having a hard time. Having recently lost her job, she has taken to staying in the house with the curtains closed all day. Maggie feels the weight of her mum’s sadness and is convinced that she can find a way to cheer her mum up. This mission would be easier if Maggie…

The Mediterranean

The opening spread of Greder’s tough, uncompromising book contains only the words “after he had finished drowning, his body sank slowly to the bottom, where the fish were waiting.” Hanging on to the right-hand edge of the page, like a doomed man on a capsizing boat, the words impel the turning of the page to…

The Mighty Crashman

Every now and then something a little bit special appears that reminds us that excellent literature can transcend any perceived differences between adult and juvenile genres. The Mighty Crashman is one such book. Chronicling the relationship between two 13-year-old boys – John Patrick Coogan aka ‘Crash’ and his neighbour Penn Webb – it is a…

The Movie Version

Sixteen-year-old Amelia Anderson’s brother Toby is larger than life – they have always been close – and Amelia has always been quite happy to play the sidekick to her popular brother. That is until a devastating illness takes Toby out of the picture. Amelia is left without the guidance of Toby, and has to finally…

The Nearest Faraway Place

The Nearest Faraway Place is as its blurb says ‘a powerfully told story of the love between two brothers in the aftermath of a family tragedy’. Dylan and Griff loose both their parents in a car crash. The story is well narrated by elder brother, Dylan—named for Dylan Thomas, the poet. We follow the boys’…

The Price Guide to the Occult

In the Blackburn family of witches, Nor, the novel’s teenage protagonist, is the first in seven generations to possess the full panoply of powers, which unfold and strengthen throughout the narrative. She lives on an island peopled by deftly created eccentrics with a caring and protective ‘mountainous…giantess’ of a grandmother and her loving partner. Nor’s…

The Quiet at the End of the World

Lowrie and Shen are two teenagers living in London. They are the only two teenagers living in London – the only two in the whole world. Lowrie and Shen are the two youngest members of the human race left on Earth. After a virus caused worldwide infertility generations ago, Lowrie and Shen, along with their…

The Red Ribbon

Fourteen-year-old Ella is a talented seamstress, and her skills are very important in this new world she finds herself in. She has been brought to Birchwood, and will make dresses and clothes for the glamorous ladies who frequent the studio. However, this is no ordinary sewing studio. It is in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Ella and her…

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

Fitting in at a new school and trying to make friends is always a challenge, especially for someone like Henry whose main interests include trivia and professional wrestling. However, fitting in is the least of his troubles, as he tries to hold his family together after a traumatic incident he initially only refers to as…

The Rogue | Traitor Spy Trilogy

Trudi Canavan, with rich, evocative images and strong characters, draws the reader straight into each world she has created. Her second book in the Traitor Spy Trilogy, The Rogue, is a welcome return to the world of her hugely successful Black Magician Trilogy. Although set twenty years after the end of the first trilogy, the…

The Senses

This enthralling graphic novel is a follow-up to Neurocomic, with which it shares many traits. Primarily, they demonstrate that the graphic format is ideal for making complex biological systems comprehensible to all. Both catapult protagonists on journeys through the human body, narrated via sequential monochrome panels with or without text. The hand-drawn imagery is hallucinatory…

The Smell of Other People’s Houses

Set in Alaska in 1970, this evocatively-titled book brings together the lives of four very different teenagers. Following a family tragedy, Ruth lives with her strict and rather cold grandmother, and she has a secret she knows she won’t be able to hide for long. Alyce longs to be a dancer, but she doesn’t want…

The Smoke Thieves

A hunter, a princess, a soldier, a traitor and a thief find their fates weaving together in this medieval fantasy. Catherine is the daughter of a ruthless king, her upcoming marriage based on strategy rather than love. Her former bodyguard, Ambrose, who has won her heart, has been declared a criminal and has fled. March,…

The Starlight Watchmaker

Bringing interstellar science fiction into the ambit of a futuristic introspection on identity, Lauren James’ The Starlight Watchmaker succeeds in raising some of the most pertinent questions familiar to dystopian narratives; where do we draw the line between the ‘biological’ and the ‘artificial’? At the same time, her brisk, humorous and imaginatively rich mystery narrative…

The Story of Michael Collins

In a series of short, clearly-headed chapters, this biography tells of the short life of Michael Collins from his West Cork boyhood to his tragic death. It is sensitive to the complexity of history. The character of Collins is very vividly portrayed as are those of some of the other characters. The late Iosold Ní…

The Surface Breaks

Louise O’Neill’s reimagining of the Little Mermaid goes past the fairytale filter most of us have inherited from the 1990s cartoon and restores the original grit (and sometimes downright sinister touch) of Andersen’s original tale. The premise is the same: Gaia doesn’t fit in her father’s kingdom and dreams of escaping to the world beyond…

The Tiger on his Back

Barrington Stoke specialise in books suitable for emergent, reluctant and dyslexic readers. Ashley utilises clear, vivid and succinct language to create a coming of age story which is brief and to the point. Though short, the text contains important themes such as self-identity, honesty and independence. When Sofia Drake decides to express her love for…

The Truth About Keeping Secrets

This young adult novel was intense and engrossing from start to finish. It opens with a funeral, and you immediately get a sense of Sydney, her best friend Olivia, her mom, and out-of-her-league June Copeland. Sydney thinks that there is more to her therapist father’s death in a car crash. Is there? Or is something…

The Truth About Lies

Jess Wilson is remarkable for one outstanding reason; she remembers every single detail of her life from the age of eleven. With her incredible memory, she is unable to forget anything, not the mystery of her old life, not her roommate’s death, and not the new and charming Dan. The Truth About Lies is a…

The Uninvited

Set in a small backwater town in Canada, and against the Hicksville setting of a house on the Syne, this is an interesting novel, which tackles the idea of family in a very unconventional way. Mimi, a young university student, takes some time out at her father’s old haunt and gets a lot more than…

The War Against the Assholes

Mike Woods is a violent, horny seventeen-year-old football player who makes unremarkable grades at an overpriced New York private school. When he notices that his mysterious classmate Hob carries a small green book everywhere he goes, Mike assumes that it contains poetry or pornography. He certainly doesn’t expect it to be about card tricks. Hob…

The Wickerlight

Two months after her sister’s mysterious death, Zara finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into a mysterious world of magic and folklore, and an ancient feud. Can Zara discover what really happened to her sister? Mysterious, sad, dangerous and magical, the world crafted here by Mary Watson is all of these things and more. Watson’s…

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

In the second instalment of Cowell’s The Wizards of Once, the adventures of Wish, a Warrior girl in possession of a powerful Magic Spelling Book, and Xar, a Wizard boy with a dangerous Witchstain on his hand, continue. Cowell masterfully creates a universe full of fearsome beasts who keep the story fast paced and firing…

Thin Ice

Mik, the novel’s young adolescent protagonist, is failed by both his alcoholic father and an unimaginative and unsympathetic education system. It is only when he visits the deeply rural home of his aunt, whose form of literary criticism provides fuel for the Arctic winter, that he finds an affection and acceptance he has never previously…

Things a Bright Girl Can Do

Sally Nicholls has created an ambitious novel built around the Suffragette movement in London in 1914. From the opening lines, we are thrown straight into a street scene with a young Suffragette addressing a crowd; her words pique the interest of seventeen-year-old Evelyn who is passing by with her young man, Teddy. Evelyn comes from…

Things I’m Seeing Without You

Grieving the loss of her online boyfriend Jonah, Tess drops out of high school and moves in with her dad, who runs a funeral business. It turns out Tess is quite good at being his assistant and together they struggle to make sense of what life has thrown at them. Was Jonah who he claimed…

Toffee

Allison has run away from home and her abusive father. Taking refuge in an abandoned house in a Cornish seaside town, she finds it is the home of Marla, an elderly woman with dementia. Marla mistakes Allison for Toffee, a childhood friend, and Allison likes the idea of a new identity and name, of being…

Too Much Trouble

Em, the book’s narrator, and his younger brother Prince are sent from their troubled native Africa to England, to what their parents believe is the protection of their uncle. With echoes of some of the most notorious of Britain’s child abuse cases, the boys are by turns assaulted and neglected by their relative. After a…

Truth or Dare

Non Pratt’s third novel uses a dual narrative format whereby you turn the book upside down at the half-way point and each protagonist’s story begins at the beginning. The narrators are Claire and Sef. Claire is struggling with self-esteem after a film of her bikini top falling off is seen by everybody in school and beyond,…

Tuesdays Are Just as Bad

After a failed suicide attempt, teenager Adam Murphy wakes to find a ghostly companion whom only he can see and hear. As Adam tries to work through his recovery, the ghost is with him, and acts as the narrator to this story. Tuesdays Are Just as Bad is a staggering Young Adult novel which deals…

Turtles All the Way Down

The latest offering from John Green feels like a long time coming. His last title, the blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars, was released in 2012. However, Turtles All the Way Down is well worth the wait. Aza is a sixteen-year-old living in suburban Indianapolis, Green’s own hometown. Setting the novel in a location he…

Twenty Questions for Gloria

Gloria Ellis is in an interview suite with a detective and her mum; what series of events brought her here? Martyn Bedford lets the reader into Gloria’s world and her inner thoughts bit by bit. Detective Ryan’s questions tell us what happened but it’s Gloria herself who reveals why the mysterious Uman Padeem had such…

Tyranny

‘How did I get here?’ It’s a question asked all too often and for Anna, suffering from an eating disorder, it is a very serious question to face. Graphic novels have an undeserved stigma of being shallow and superficial, and one might be sceptical of them ever successfully dealing with a topical and emotional issue.…

Unearthly

Cynthia Hand’s debut novel Unearthly will appeal to readers who enjoy a touch of romance combined with more than a hint of the paranormal. The story takes place in the United States and the protagonists are stereotypical American teenagers, albeit some possess angelic powers. The degree of power possessed by the angel characters depends on…

Voyages In The Underworld Of Orpheus Black

This illustrated novel about two brothers trying to survive while World War II rages in London is one that stays with the reader long after they have finished it. The story is punctuated with poems written from the point of view of Orpheus, the Greek myth hero. The juxtaposition of Orpheus’ bravery and Harry’s views…

We See Everything

William Sutcliffe’s most recent young adult novel We See Everything is an absorbing and chilling tale of life in a fenced-in and heavily surveyed, three-mile wide section of London, known as The London Strip. Set in a dystopian future where technology has been developed to deadly levels to remotely control, maim and even eliminate The…

What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems

This is an invaluable handbook for readers, writers and teachers of poetry. Its unintimidating cover, large print, and sparse, jokey illustrations belie the well-devised content, which supports UK National Curriculum English at Key Stages 2 and 3 (children aged 7-14). The title poses an impossible question – to answer it Rosen examines all the things…

When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune

This is a very unusual book. It is set in a poor, black neighbourhood of Houston, Texas similar to the one in which the author grew up. There, she says, children were expected to be ‘seen and not heard’ even when they were being maltreated. Thus her aim in this book is to ‘tell the…

Wherever It Is Summer

The two young girls in this book both yearn for different things – in Jana’s case she wants the happy family she once had before her brother attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge. Louise, in contrast, longs to complete projects, but is forever chasing her tail, just like both her parents, who appear to…

Who is Jesse Flood?

This is a wonderful book for young and adult readers alike, in which Jesse Flood, a 14-year-old-boy, tries to deal with the ups and downs of life as a teenager in a dull seaside town, aptly named Greywater. His father is an alcoholic good-for-nothing whom his mother eventually leaves, and we hear Jesse’s inner voice…

Who Put This Song On?

Morgan is trying to find her identity and place in her world. She’s bright and passionate, with a curiosity and beliefs that put her at odds with her conservative Christian school. What separates Morgan’s story from countless others is that amongst the typical struggles to find her voice Morgan is also dealing with clinical depression.…

Who Runs the World?

Patrick Ness’s highly acclaimed novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go, features a protagonist raised in an all-male society. With a nod in Ness’s direction, Bergin successfully evokes a world composed of females, where masculinity is associated with destruction, violence and brutality, while what are perceived as the female attributes of openness, peace and caring…

Windfall

Alice never believed in luck, however, she does believe in love and she has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for 3 years. For his eighteenth birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket and overnight he becomes a multimillionaire. In an instant, their world changes. With his newfound wealth, he decides to spend…

Wing Jones

Wing Jones is a young woman, growing up in nineties Atlanta. When tragedy strikes, she discovers a talent she didn’t know she had, a talent that allows her to process her grief and frustration, and express herself more freely. Wing’s family relationships are very close and special, particularly the intercultural, intergenerational relationships she shares with…

Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow is the story of how Annabelle *** learned how to lie. She has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life – the quietest of places, scarred by the trauma of two world wars. Annabelle understands her life and the way her world turns – until the arrival of Betty Glengarry. Betty is cruel…

Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? : A Gay Boy’s Guide to Life

A book that does exactly what it says on the tin, this is a celebratory guide to life as a boy who fancies other boys, covering topics like coming out, dating, body issues, and sex. It features advice and reassurance from a diverse range of happy, successful gay adults, from Stephen Fry to James Kavanagh.…

Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? : A Gay Boy’s Guide to Life

A book that does exactly what it says on the tin, this is a celebratory guide to life as a boy who fancies other boys, covering topics like coming out, dating, body issues, and sex. It features advice and reassurance from a diverse range of happy, successful gay adults, from Stephen Fry to James Kavanagh.…

You

You is the story of Josie, an 18-year-old determined to break with the past and to make new friends at college. But Alex, a dangerous ghost from her past, is hanging about and making her very nervous. Over the course of the year, as she learns to cope with the burden of past actions while…

‘Media Wise’ Series

Part of a series dealing with various aspects of the media, ‘Media Wise’, these books would be an excellent classroom resource for students or teachers. Starting with an overview of the form and functions of the topic, the books quickly progress to examine the technology, processes, people and ethics involved in each area. The text…

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