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YA Fiction: Books For Your To Be Read Pile

By Laura Jones and Rosie Burgoyne

It is award season in the book world so this issue, we take a look at the winner of the Young Adult (YA) Book Prize. Plus, we make our recommendations on recent and future YA titles that you have simply got to read!

The YA Book Prize: Loveless by Alice Oseman

Launched by The Bookseller in 2014 and partnered with Hay Festival, The YA Book Prize is an annual celebration of books in the YA category within the UK and Ireland. With a shortlist that features names such as Patrice Lawrence, Meg Rosoff and Melinda Salisbury, the winning title, Loveless by Alice Oseman, was announced on Thursday 6 May.

A story of self-acceptance, Loveless follows the journey of protagonist Georgia, as she navigates the world of romance and first love. Described as “wise, warm and witty,” Loveless explores the many different forms that love can take, focusing on Georgia’s uncertainty about her feelings on a path of self-discovery.

Alice Oseman will be chatting to Sarah Crossan about her winning title as part of this year’s Hay Festival, which starts later this week. You can read more about the award, including the shortlisted titles and this year’s Special Achievement Award here.

Our YA Recommendations

Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw (UCLan Publishing, 1 April 2021)

Sitting firmly within the YA category and definitely not for the faint-hearted, Mina and the Undead is a tale of vampires: blood, guts and gore. Horror fan Mina is visiting New Orleans to see her sister, Libby. Mina is unwittingly drawn into a series of gruesome murders whilst she is there, stumbling across the dead body of a girl with puncture wounds on her neck.

Expertly written, each chapter draws you further into the mystery and horror as myths come to life and danger lurks around every dark corner. For older readers, it is a nostalgic jaunt down Point Horror Lane with an added splash of Buffy. Meanwhile for today’s YA audience, it is not only an education on 90s fiction and popular culture, but an enticing tale featuring vampires, family difficulties and plenty of mystery.

Complete with an authentic yellow pricing sticker on the back of the Video Home System (VHS) style cover, foreboding internal images of streetlamps and bats, as well as carefully selected character names, Mina and the Undead is an absolute must-read. With this being McCaw’s debut title, we cannot wait to see what comes next.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Usborne Publishing, 10 June 2021)

Billed as “Get Out meets Gossip Girl,” this highly anticipated high school-based thriller looks set to be one of the most exciting YA releases of the year. Aimed at ages fourteen and above, Ace of Spades tells the addictive story of what happens when the dark secrets of two students come to light within the walls of the prestigious Niveus Private Academy.

The two students in question, gifted musician Devon and Head Girl Chiamaka, find themselves at the mercy of an anonymous texter, who holds all the aces and threatens to plan something that goes far beyond the realms of a simple high school game.

Guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat, this thrilling debut from South London-based author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, brings ample amounts of fear and mystery whilst also exploring experiences of growing up Black and queer. This is one we will be adding straight to the top of our-to-be read piles, once it is released this June.

The Wanderer by Josie Williams (Firefly Press, 7 October 2021)

When independent Welsh publisher Firefly Press first acquired the rights for this debut YA novel from Josie Williams, there was early buzz throughout the publishing industry, with The Bookseller describing the novel as a “moving and compelling YA romance.” Catching our attention for its intriguing concept as a YA romance with a paranormal twist, we were hooked by the book’s tagline “nothing can stand in the way of love, not even death.”

The Wanderer follows the heart-wrenching love story of Maggie, a girl who is alone in the world until one day, the most popular boy in school, Ryder, saves her life. But there is one problem. In saving her life, Ryder has broken the most important rule of being a Wanderer and finds himself stuck in limbo between life and death. Caught up in the midst of the thrills of first love and all its accompanying emotions, the story follows Maggie and Ryder as they try to find out if a Wanderer and a living girl can ever truly find their happily ever after.

For a gripping love story with an added spooky element, this is the book we will be picking up off the shelves come October for the perfect seasonal read.


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