UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


Savita Kalhan’s Top 10 UKYA books

UKYA author Savita Kalhan chooses her Top 10 books.

Choosing my favourites for any top ten list is hard, choosing favourites from the wonderful talent in UK YA is almost impossible! It’s not made any easier by the fact that as fast as I read, I barely seem to make a dent in my TBR pile. Also, I know I will have missed some books that I’ve absolutely loved reading and that some books in my TBR pile would have made it to this list if I’d had more time to read.

Anyhow, enough excuses, this is my current top ten list, in no particular order, and yes I’ve managed to throw in a few trilogies and counted them as one!

Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy – Although I read this book some time ago, the story has stayed with me. It is an unflinchingly told and compelling story of a child who has killed, now grown up and rejoining society.

Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip. Firebrand and Bloodstone
I love fantasy and this is one of the best series in recent years. It’s darkly beautiful. I’m champing at the bit for the third book.

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, this book was so rich in detail you could have been inside the story. It’s both funny and moving as it explores first love, class and the politics that almost got the world blown up. It’s a great read.

Stolen, A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
It begins with a young girl, Gemma, who is abducted at an airport by a young man named Ty, and from the very beginning the book has an original voice that draws you in. The descriptions are so vivid they jump off the page, and the main characters are utterly believable.

A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
I love Dowd’s writing, it’s poetic and powerful stuff, and this book in particular resonated with me. The rural Ireland that it’s set in is only 1984, but you might think it was far earlier than that. Shell, the main character is bound by her upbringing, by the traditions, religious faith and society that surround her.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
Pregnant women are dying of an incurable disease and the future of humankind is at stake, so yes, the book is dystopian, but it’s not an unrecognisable future. It’s one that’s disturbingly close. And the Sleeping Beauties? A very scary idea.

Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman
Sheer brilliance from a great writer.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
One of my favourite fantasy trilogies. Bartimaeus, the genii, is an inspired character, wry, sardonic and world-weary, he’s endlessly fascinating.

Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness
As soon as I started reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, I was hooked. I loved the invention of The Noise, and glad I was a woman so I didn’t have to hear it! A great series.

Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn
It’s 1939 and 13 year old Ro, after one episode too many, is sent to a lunatic asylum to undergo a new treatment: electric shock therapy. Every single character in this book is brilliantly drawn, and Ro and his dorm mate Dorothea, are inspired. The book is extremely heart-breaking.


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Jenna Burtenshaw’s Top 10 UKYA reads

Jenna Burtenshaw, author of Wintercraft, Blackwatch and Legacy (out 10 May), shares her Top 10 favourite UKYA reads.

1: Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge

A witch, a curse, and spooky goings-on.  Everything about this story is dark, creepy, and wonderful.

2: Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick

I love books set in desolate futures. Floodland is one of my favourites.

3: The Bartimaeus Series by Jonathan Stroud

Four books filled with magicians and djinn, magic and corruption.  If you like action and sarcastic comedy, this is a must read series.

4: Pastworld by Ian Beck

Victorian London meets futuristic London, and there’s a mysterious killer on the loose.  Smoggy and atmospheric.

5: The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish

I read this book in one sitting.  It’s a lot darker than I expected. Tense, very creepy, and well worth a read.

6: The Vanishing Of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

Set in Germany, this book recalls dramatic events in a young girl’s life (and starts with one character bursting into flames). Put on your detective hat and enjoy.

7: Skellig by David Almond

Who is the stranger living in the garage? A wonderful story about hope, family, and friendship.

8: The Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage

A fantastic world of magic, dragons, and talking messenger rats. Great fun.

9: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

I don’t often cry when reading books, but I needed tissues at the end of this one.

10: The Larklight Series by Philip Reeve

Steampunk swashbuckling set in space. I’ll say no more.


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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

Shortlisted for The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2012.

Number 10 on our Top 10 Best-Ever UKYA Novels list.

Visit Patrick’s website


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Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

The extraordinary story of one long summer in the life of an 18-year-old boy caught up in the chaos and conflict of Ireland in the 1980s.

Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him – his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what, a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls.

Bog Child is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.

Visit the Siobhan Dowd Trust website