UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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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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Stolen by Lucy Christopher

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him. This is my story. A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback.

Ty, her captor, is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.

Visit Lucy’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.