Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors

SisterSpooky Laura’s UKYA Books of the Year

Sooooo many good reads published in 2012 and so these are in no order because that’s like saying which one of your kids are your favourite. (I hear that’s frowned upon)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Goblins by Philip Reeve
Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton
Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
Fire City by Bali Rai
Kiss, Date, Love, Hate by Luisa Plaja
Frostfire by Zoe Marriott
Adorkable by Sarra Manning
The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison
The Look by Sophia Bennett
Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale
Hollow Pike by James Dawson
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

Oh and there was this other book called Geekhood by Andy Robb which was pretty frigging awesome. Don’t tell him that though because it’ll go to his head!


Roll on 2013!

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

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.

The great traction city London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold.

Thaddeus Valentine, London’s Head Historian and adored famous archaeologist, and his lovely daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes toward his heart, saved by the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice. Racing after the fleeing girl, Tom suddenly glimpses her hideous face: scarred from forehead to jaw, nose a smashed stump, a single eye glaring back at him. “Look at what your Valentine did to me!” she screams. “Ask him! Ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!” And with that she jumps down the waste chute to her death. Minutes later Tom finds himself tumbling down the same chute and stranded in the Out-Country, a sea of mud scored by the huge caterpillar tracks of cities like the one now steaming off over the horizon.

Visit Philip’s website

The Mortal Engines series is on our UKYA Top 100 list.

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!)

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Zoe Marriott’s Top 10 UKYA books

Author Zoe Marriott chooses her Top 10 favourite UKYA books.

HEXWOOD by Diana Wynne Jones. I give this book my highest accolade, which is that every time I’ve read it (nearly ten times at last count) I’ve learned something new. It’s a mind-bending mixture of science fiction and fantasy, mystery and folklore, contemporary adventures and dream logic. Like all of the late great Diana Wynne Jones’ work, it is brilliant.

THE SPELLGRINDER’S APPRENTICE by N. M. Browne. This author is the best British YA fantasy writer you’ve probably never heard of. Most of her books are standalones, but the richness and depth of the worlds she creates is just fabulous. There are ideas in this book that blow me away; I’ve always wished for a sequel but there isn’t one yet. *Sigh*

ENTANGLED by Cat Clarke. Utterly unputdownable, and kept me guessing to the last. The main character, Grace, is one of the most complex, interesting and realistic contemporary teen characters I’ve ever read. Not for the faint of heart, this book made me want to curl into the fetal position at times, but in the end it was totally worth it.

CHALICE by Robin McKinley. I know Ms McKinley used to live in the U.S. but she’s married to the writer Peter Dickinson now and lives in the UK. This book was written in the UK. So I claim it as British! It’s one of my favourite comfort reads. The way Robin McKinley uses language still leaves me spellbound twenty years after I first opened one of her books, and I hope it always will.

THE WEE FREE MEN by Terry Pratchett. If you don’t love Tiffany Aching and her heavy iron frying pan (years before Tangled was made, I might add) I’m not sure we can be friends. Hilarious, moving, terrifying and wonderful, all of the Tiffany Aching books are must read.

JESSIE HEARTS NYC by Keris Stainton. This book is a complete antidote to angsty-grim-dark stuff about vampires and is another perfect comfort read. An enchanting love story that deals with fate, and choices, and parental relationships, and which uses New York like the starry faraway kingdom of a fairytale. Adorable.

LARKLIGHT by Philip Reeve. Having read this writer’s darker stuff (like the wonderful but very grim HERE LIES ARTHUR) I was completely taken by surprise by the insane, laugh-out-loud, penny dreadful glory of LARKLIGHT. I got into the bath with it intending to read one page, and didn’t leave until the book was finished and I was all white and wrinkled like a cave fish. True story.

FLY BY NIGHT by Francis Hardinge. I can still remember one of my friends exploding with excitement about this book, giving me this incredibly confused description of the whole thing and finishing with: and there’s a goose called Saracen who is the heroine’s best friend and bodyguard. Um… sold!

THE WINDSINGER by William Nicholson. I get such bittersweet feelings when I think about this book, because it’s the first of a wonderful trilogy that had me almost on my knees by the end. The author creates the most wonderful characters and then tests them to their absolute limits. You never know what will happen next, and no one is ever all or only what they appear to be.

HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff. Another book by a U.S. transplant to British soil. Try to pry this book away from me on the grounds of Patriotism and there will be blood, I tell you. This is one of those stories that leaves you feeling subtly but profoundly changed by the end. Romantic, ugly, magical and tragic, this is one of my all time favourite YA novels.


Larklight by Philip Reeve

Arthur (Art) Mumsby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space.

When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space, where they will do battle with evil forces in order to save each other–and the universe.

Visit Philip’s website