Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors

Author C.J. Skuse’s Top 10 UKYA books

050CJ Skuse is the author of PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC. Here are her Top 10 favourite UKYA books!

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

I picked this when I read for the Chicken House Times Children’s Fiction Competition a few years ago and I knew it was my favourite by the time I’d got to the bottom of the first page. It has an Inbetweenersy kind of humour to it and a very sweet love story right at its heart. Ticks all my boxes.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Because Sirius Black. That is all.

soulmates-by-holly-bourneSoulmates by Holly Bourne

I love the central premise of this book and I think Holly is an exceptionally talented new writer with a fine sense of humour. That ending though. Damn her #heartbroken

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

I could have picked any of Kevin’s books as I love them all but I’ve picked Martyn Pig because it was the first of his that I read and I found it just so fresh. I think I get my love of dubious endings from this great man.

untitledDoing It by Melvin Burgess

When I was trying to get published, I always had in my mind that I wanted to be a female version of Melvin Burgess but I’m still nowhere near his calibre. Doing It is my favourite book of his because it’s just so unafraid and matter-of-fact about sex.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Anything written by Lucy Christopher just has the mark of quality on it and this book stayed with me for a long time. The premise is so simple yet so powerfully written. I could live a 100 years and not write anything as great as this.

forget me notForget Me Not by Anne Cassidy

Everyone always talks about Looking for JJ but this is my favourite Anne Cassidy book. It’s quite sinister and the ending is very brave and I found it incredibly satisfying.

The Madolescents by Chrissie Glazebrook

This book never gets talked about but it is the book which made me want to write for teens in a humorous style. It’s dated a bit now but the comedy still holds up and the main character was almost certainly an inspiration for Paisley in my first book Pretty Bad Things.

TornTorn by David Massey

Loved this book from start to finish. To be frank, I’d never read anything regarding the war in Afghanistan which really interested me until this came along. And I fancied the pants off the hot American Lieutenant, I’ll admit it.

Mothertime by Gillian White

This one isn’t technically YA but I had to add it because Gillian White is THE writer who made me want to write when I was 17. I wrote her a letter and she sent me 2 signed novels and a very encouraging note which spurred me on. I’ve never forgotten that note. Mothertime is about five young brothers and sisters, led by 12-year-old Vanessa, who lock their alcoholic mother in the sauna over Christmas to dry her out. I may have subconsciously locked a certain rock star in a garage thanks to this book.

The Hit by Melvin Burgess

the hitTake it. Live it. F*** it.

A new drug is out. Everyone is talking about it. The Hit. Take it, and you have one amazing week to live. It’s the ultimate high. At the ultimate price.

Adam is tempted. Life is rubbish, his girlfriend’s over him, his brother’s gone. So what’s he got to lose? Everything, as it turns out. It’s up to his girlfriend, Lizzie, to show him…

Caitlin of The Cait Files picks her Top 10 UKYA books

Caitlin Lomas, who blogs at The Cait Files, chooses her Top 10 favourite UKYA books.

The White Darkness by Geradline McCaughrean

An all-time favourite, follows a girl, Sym, who is shy and socially withdrawn, mostly as a result of her hearing impairment, partly because of the death of her father but also because her best friend, intrepid explorer Titus Oates lives in her head. With a trip to Antarctica, an abundance of conspiracy theories and a creepy ‘uncle’ you’ll never know quite what to think or who to trust.

Junk by Melvin Burgess

A very real book based around heroin addicts who form a highly dysfunctional but often sweet family. Controversial, but eye-opening and oddly captivating.

Denial by David Belbin

Initially picked up because the MC was called Caitlin (best name ever) who is a teenage girl trying to recreate herself, which seems to be working, until her teacher father is accused of molesting one of his students and Caitlin’s life gets turned upside down.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

One of the first dystopians I ever read and one of the best. In a world where adults live forever, children, Surpluses, are considered lower-class citizens and taught to be ‘useful’ to make up for their own existence.

Echorium Sequence by Katherine Roberts

A fantasy series surrounding the Singers and a battle over the ultimate evil. First book, Song Quest, was recently rereleased by Catnip Books

The Doomspell Trilogy by Cliff McNish

Possibly a little younger than YA, but I have always adored it. Fantasy series surrounding a witch who snatches children away to an alternate dimension meets her match when she steals 2 kids with extraordinary powers. Lots of battles, witches, wizards, other creatures, splendid.

The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson by Louise Rennison

Everyone’s read them, but they deserve a mention. Hilarious diaries of a teen girl getting to grips with life. My sister used to shout at me for reading these late at night and keeping her awake  by laughing.

A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

Paranormal romance with a British twist!  Witchcraft, love and magical mysteries all in a small coastal town in Southern England. And the sequel is just as good.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Strange, a little disturbing but very beautiful; the tragic story of spoilt, cynical Daisy and her cousins whose idyllic summer takes a nasty turn when a war breaks out. There’s a reason it’s a staple on these lists. Everyone should read it.

Hollow Pike by James Dawson

Creepy murders in a creepy town surrounded by a creepy wood. And if that’s not enough to entice you, James’ teenagers are outstandingly realistic and he writes about LGBT teens and issues better than any other author I’ve encountered so far.

And I’d like to end with an honorary mention for one of my favourite authors and favourite series, Sarah Rees Brennan and The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy. Keris said I could not include her because she is IRISH but her books are so fantastic they had to get a mention. Urban Fantasy set in England which follows the Ryves brothers and their adventures with demons, magicians and annoying girls with pink hair who demand you save their brother. One of the funniest and most plot-twisty series I’ve ever read.

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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.


Junk by Melvin Burgess

Tar and Gemma are in love. Tar has reasons for running away from home that run deep and sour, whereas Gemma, with her middle-class roots firmly on show, has a deep-rooted lust for adventure. Together they explore the dark world of the streets as, together, they explore the dark world of drugs, moving quickly on from the first hit of heroin that takes them towards bliss, to the next hit that ultimately leads to despair.

Visit Melvin’s website