20 July 2016

And I Darken by Kiersten White

If you’re after something to read while waiting for the next series of Game of Thrones try the first book in an epic new YA trilogy set in the Ottoman Empire. Lada Dragwyla is not your usual princess. She’s brutal, unpredictable and ruthless; a warrior princess plotting revenge on her father’s empire. And if that wasn’t complicated enough, the sultan’s son gets involved and pits her brother against her. 

Blame by Simon Mayo

A rather chilling read in post-Brexit Britain, this page turner of a YA novel from Radio 2 DJ Simon Mayo will have you on the edge of year seat. Set in a near future where you can be imprisoned for ‘heritage crime’ – crimes your parents were never convicted of – brother and sister Ant and Mattie are locked up. But when Ant decides that enough is enough and she has to prove they’re not to blame she incites a riot and the stakes get infinitely higher.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Recently revealed as one of the titles in Zoella’s first ever book club with WHSmith, this is one for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Maddy is allergic to basically everything, meaning she’s barely left her house in 17 years. When Olly moves next door, and they begin talking on instant messenger, it forces her to reevaluate what she wants from life in this gorgeous, heartbreaking debut novel.

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

If you prefer something a bit grittier but packed with dark British humour try this from stand-up comedian Khorsandi. It follows 17-year-old Nina who has a complicated relationship with alcohol, and with her parents. When she wakes up one morning with no memories of the night before, all she’s left with is a very bad feeling about what happened. Dark, witty and wise all at the same time, it’s one for fans of Lena Dunham’s Girls

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson

If historical fiction is your bag try this YA Book Prize-shortlisted tale based on a true story. Set in the early nineteenth century, the arrival of a strange young woman claiming to be a princess from a distant land throws the well-to-do Worrall family into chaos. This is a gripping, fast-paced and ultimately hopeful story that will make you think about race, family and the stories – and lies – we tell to make sense of life. 

My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal

One of the breakout debut novels of 2016, De Waal’s story of nine-year-old Leon is both lovely and heart-wrenching. Set in early 1980s Britain it follows the after effects of Leon’s white baby brother being adopted when mixed-race Leon is not and his struggles to deal with what that means. It’s a beautiful exploration of finding home and family, learning who you are and overcoming the odds. 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Another of Zoella’s book club picks, this became a bit of a YA phenomenon last year and has picked up a film deal along the way. It’s set to star Elle Fanning as Violet, a teenage girl struggling to cope with the recent death of her sister. She meets Finch, a boy fascinated by death, and a school project about where they live makes them realise things they never knew about each other, and themselves. 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

An iconic YA novel from Native American author Alexie, this is based on his own high school experiences of leaving the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. Illustrated with cartoons by Ellen Forney, it’s a smart but no-holds-barred look at growing up covering race, sex, alcohol and bullying. In the US it managed to win a lot of awards while also being banned in several states. 

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

A beautiful, lyrical YA novel with something sinister going on underneath the surface. Seventeen-year-old Cara is used to what her family calls ‘the accident season’ – every year in October things start to go wrong and horrible accidents happen. But when a girl at school goes missing, Cara starts to question why it only happens to them and how she can stop it. 

The Girl Who Beat ISIS by Farida Khalaf and Andrea C. Hoffmann

In this powerful memoir Khalaf recounts her experiences from 2014, when her village in northern Iraq was targeted by ISIS jihadists. Her father and brother were killed and Farida and the other women in her village were taken prisoner. Despite beatings and rape, Farida continued to resist and manages to escape with five other girls into the Syrian desert. A story of courage in the face of atrocities and tragedy. 

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