UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


Sangu Mandanna’s Top 10 UKYA books

Author photo (Colour)My list of favourite books – UK, YA or not – changes all the time! Like, weekly. I read something new and love it and BAM! It’s on the list. But then there are some books that never quite get bumped off the list, no matter what else comes after, and my list today is mostly comprised of these books. I’ve probably forgotten some of my favourites and will later kick myself, but anyway. I will also admit that in some cases my definition of “UKYA” is loose, but to me these books and authors totally count!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This is one of the loose ones. It’s as British as they come, but is it YA? I’m pretty sure the characters are adults. But the themes of self-discovery, first love and coming of age are so intrinsically YA that this is how I always think of it. Either way it’s a fantastic book: it’s funny, it’s dark, it’s romantic, it’s so utterly thrilling. (And it doesn’t hurt that I love the film based on it too!) Basically, I love Neil Gaiman.

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

No list of mine, whatever the genre or country, is complete without these books. They are filled with some of my most favourite characters of all time. I love them to bits.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is American (I think?) but this novel is totally UKYA. It’s a story about friendship and courage and loyalty, which I love; a story about tricks and twists, which I love; a story that broke my heart, which I love – but it’s also a Second World War story, a spy story, and a story about flying planes, none of which I love. And yet this book is so wonderful, I loved those things about it too.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Broke. My. Heart. Into. A. Thousand. Little. Pieces. That is all I can say. (Actually, I could probably also add that I loved that it was a war story and a dystopian story that did not need or rely on countless tedious, tired details about who, what, where, why, how. It was about characters caught up in the war and that was all that mattered.)

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

I’ll give this to Meg: she never writes the same book twice. Oh, and her books are awesome. The Bride’s Farewell is strange and twisty and romantic and utterly beautiful.

Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton

(Hi, Keris!) I have such an enormous soft spot in my heart for this book. It is funny, sweet and has a swoon-worthy boy – and those things are always a winner for me – but more than anything else, it really and truly makes me remember what it was like to be a teenager. So few YA books actually do that for me.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

In case you don’t know what this book is about, I’ll tell you: it’s about a boy and a girl who fall in love. They also happen to be brother and sister. By blood. Not adopted, not ‘in spirit’, not grew up side by side. It’s not a new subject for fiction by any means: The God of Small Things does it, Flowers in the Attic does it, other books do it. But this one is special for me. The romance should have made me feel icky, but the magic of this book is that it doesn’t. Everything tells me it’s wrong. This is a relationship that is forbidden in the most basic way. It’s not the casual, not-really-wrong kind of ‘forbidden’ that so many fictional romances play on today. It’s literally taboo. But when I read and reread the book I root for Lochan and Maya anyway. I want them to be together. Their love story is beautiful and passionate and tormented and doomed and all the things you want from a great love story.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Ditto Forbidden. A boy abducts a girl and keeps her prisoner, he loves her, she kind of loves him, but she’s still his prisoner and he’s probably not quite sane… and I want them to stay together?! That is the kind of thing I would never think in real life. And yet when I read this book for the first time all I wanted was for them to be together. That’s what this book does to you. Plus it’s got some stunning descriptions of the hot Australian outback…

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

There are a lot of things I love about these books, from the settings to the characters to the literally allusions, but I’m just going to pinpoint the single most wonderful thing: daemons.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Long before YA dystopian novels became the Big Thing, Noughts and Crosses was a winner. I haven’t actually read the sequels, only because I feel unequal to the trauma of carrying on with the story without a Certain Something (it would be a major spoiler if I told you who or what that Something is, but if you’ve read it you’ll understand) but this instalment is exciting and rich and heartbreaking.

And there you have it!

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Raimy of Readaraptor’s UKYA Books of the Year

This is my top list of books from 2013. I tried to keep the list short, I failed. There were too many awesome books out this year!

FrostfireFrostfire – Zoe Marriott

This latest offering from Zoe Marriott is quite possibly my favourite of hers so far. I was in awe the entire way through and I loved how Zoe gets across the complexity of the main character without making the whole book hard to read.

The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket – John Boyne

Any fan of Roald Dahl should be reading this book. It is quite simply awesome! I couldn’t put it down, I laughed and I cried but most of all I loved every bit of it!

Heart Shaped Bruise – Tanya Byrne

I am a sucker for psychological thrillers so I was grabbed by this the minute I started reading. Following the story of an 18 year old girl who was awaiting trail in the mental health ward of a young persons unit this is a must for people who like stories that get into your head.

Emma Hearts LA – Keris Stainton

This book holds a special place in my own heart and it is a fantastic and brilliant example of British Contemporary fiction!

AdorkableAdorkable – Sarra Manning

I can’t put into words my love for this book but I enjoyed it so much I wrote a letter to the book instead of a review of it!

Boys Don’t Cry – Malorie Blackman

Following the story of a guy who gets a baby he didn’t even know existed left on his doorstep this one is well worth a read!

Undone – Cat Clarke

I’ve read two Cat Clarke books this year and let me tell you, it was hard to chose which to put on this list. I decided on Undone purely for the emotions that overcame me whilst reading the book. Its a gut wrenching story which leaves you in shock and makes you want to return to the start and read all over again.

The City’s Son – Tom Pollock

I’m not good with fantasy books, especially high fantasy that looks like its so far beyond what we are used to in everyday life that it will make my head hurt. However The City’s Son goes on this list for making me see that I shouldn’t be scared of this type of book, it was fantastic and once I got used to the world (which didn’t take long!) my head didn’t even start to ache!


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The Top 10 Best-Ever UKYA novels – as voted by YOU

I know, I know, it’s taken a while, but we had over 1000 votes – how brilliant is that? So here, without further ado, are (in reverse order)…

THE TOP 10 BEST-EVER UKYA NOVELS (as voted by YOU):

10) A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

9) Lila series – Sarah Alderson

8) C.H.E.R.U.B. series – Robert Muchamore

7) Chaos Walking trilogy – Patrick Ness

6) The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and 3/4 – Sue Townsend

5) I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

4) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

3) Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman

2) His Dark Materials series – Philip Pullman

1) Harry Potter series – JK Rowling


Julie Bertagna’s Top 10 UKYA books

Photo copyright Donald MacLeod

Author Julie Bertagna chooses her Top 10 favourites:

In no order whatsoever, these are just the tip of a very big iceberg…

For Twihards needing a fix of vampires, werewolves and weird, erotic adventures – Angela Carter did it first and best. Check out The Bloody Chamber and other short stories where young heroines in peril defy what’s expected of them.

Philip Reeve’s stunning streampunk adventures in a post-apocalyptic world, renamed Predator Cities, has an opening line I really wish I’d written: ‘It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.’

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith – classic YA territory. A coming of age story set in a dysfunctional family (the father indulging his writer’s block is a brilliant warning about missed chances) yet it’s unique. Strange, dark, funny, quirky and beautifully written, it reduces me to tears every time.

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray – the aftermath of a teen suicide becomes a crazy road trip that’s laugh-out-loud funny while exploring the emotional fall-out of a group of boys after a friend’s tragic death. Genius.

The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd – diary of a pissed-off teen eco-warrior in a near-future world in crisis.

Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass – the culmination of His Dark Materials is a big, blockbusting love story of two teenagers against the forces of the universe. Bursting with imagination and humanity.

I Am Apache by Tanya Landman – the incredibly powerful voice and story of a young apache girl who becomes a warrior to avenge her brother’s death.

True fairytales are not for fainthearts – Robin McKinley’s Deerskin* is brutal and tender. Spellbinding storytelling.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman – a groundbreaking dystopian thriller that turns the world on its head.

Once In A House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth is an unforgettable survival story of a girl in a war zone – her family. For every teen who thinks they’ll never escape.

(*American Robin McKinley has lived and written in the UK for many years so I’m claiming her as ours!)


Author Sue Ransom’s Top 10 UKYA books

Sue Ransom, author of Small Blue Thing, Perfectly Reflected and Scattering Like Light, chooses her Top 10 UKYA novels.

This list has caused me quite a lot of anguish. Not because I couldn’t decide, but because so many of the books I’ve been reading lately have actually been American. So this list goes back to include some of my favourites from my teenage years (just after the dinosaurs as far as my kids are concerned), as well as some of the books which have more recently hit the shops.

The Crysalids, John Wyndham

My all-time favourite – a dystopian horror well before dystopia had a name. I defy you to read this and not spend the next few night straining to hear someone else thinking.

His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

Brilliantly imagined worlds, with such vivid descriptions that I knew exactly what each would look like, and so, so sad in places too.

Flambards, KM Peyton

When I was a teenager I used to check this out of the school library regularly. Handsome stable boys, country manor houses and a rich, dysfunctional guardian – what’s not to love?

Harry Potter, JK Rowling

I read the first two of these out loud to my son, as he wasn’t up to the level of reading needed at the time, and that got me hooked. As a family we’ve loved these books, and ended up buying multiple copies of The Deathly Hallows as no-one wanted to wait to read it. Magnificent plotting.

When I was Joe, Keren David

This was one of the first YA books I read after I realised that my books were going to be categorised as YA too. Sometimes tough to read, I never knew where the cunning plot twists were going to go next. I’m really looking forward to the third book.

Torn, Cat Clarke

I loved Cat’s first book, Entangled, but this one is even better. Who can’t relate to being sneered at by the Queen of Mean at school? I loved how the plot unfurled, and winced in horror repeatedly.

Watership Down, Richard Adams

My copy of this is so battered I had to buy a new one for my kids. A book which can be enjoyed on many levels, and the end of which can still make me cry.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

A classic, and one which I appreciated more each time I read another Sci Fi tome. I really, really want a Babelfish of my own.

Florence and Giles, John Harding

A fabulously creepy gothic thriller, told from a teenager’s point of view and with a strange but compelling use of language. Possibly not quite YA, but well worth reading.

Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman

A truly powerful, gripping book, and another one which made me cry. This is the level of story telling I aspire to reach when I write, and I have a long, long way to go!