Welcome back to Part 2 of the best of the YA genre. If you remember from last week, i invited three well known authors to nominate their most loved YA novel and, in their opinion, their favourite YA novel that slipped through the net of commercial success. It was a great list that brought together some well known names, as well as a few I’d never even heard of before – and that is exactly why i wrote it. YA books (young adult) is a genre that can move even the hardest of adult readers to step into a world of books that has worldwide appeal.
In part 2, it is the turn of the gents, and along with myself, I’m pleased to invite two bestselling authors to give you our list of YA novels.
Marcus Sedgwick, author of The Book of Dead Days, Floodland and My Swordhand is Singing
“MARCUS SEDGWICK was born and raised in East Kent in the South-east of England. He now divides his time between a small village near Cambridge and the French Alps.
Alongside a 16 year career in publishing he established himself as a widely-admired writer of YA fiction; he is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Branford-Boase Award for a debut novel (Floodland), the Booktrust Teenage Prize (My Swordhand is Singing), and the Blue Peter Book Award (Lunatics and Luck). His books have been shortlisted for over thirty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (five times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (four times). In 2011 Revolver was awarded a Printz Honor.
Marcus was Writer in Residence at Bath Spa University for three years, and has taught creative writing at Arvon and Ty Newydd. He is currently working on film and other graphic novels with his brother, Julian, as well as a graphic novel with Thomas Taylor. He has judged numerous books awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Costa Book Awards.
He has illustrated some of his books, and has provided wood-engravings for a couple of private press books.
His latest title is Doctor Who and the Spear of Destiny, book three in Puffin’s 50th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who.”
Sure! Why not? Only thing is; question one, I don’t have a favourite YA book; too many wonderful things to choose just one. But I don’t mind giving you a random one from my top ten: Red Shift, Alan Garner.
As for question two: The Baboon King by Anton Quintana; a translation from the Dutch.
Jack Croxall, author of the Tethers Trilogy
“Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books.
Tethers, his debut adventure novel that is set in Victorian England, peaked at the number one spot on the Amazon Children’s Historical Fiction Bestseller List”
What is your favourite YA novel? There really are so many phenomenal YA books out there; His Dark Materials, Rot and Ruin, The Wind Singer to name just a few, but I’m going to choose Watership Down by Richard Adams. The tale of a group of courageous rabbits, I’m not actually sure whether or not this book technically is YA but I, like so many others, first read it in my teens and always considered my favourite rabbit, Fiver, to be somewhat of an adolescent.
The book is regarded as a classic and rightly so; there is just so much drama in its pages and, despite the protagonists all being rabbits, their characters are so varied and so perfectly developed. The baddie is terrifying, and it really is a story where the ‘new’ generation truly change things for the better.
Recently, I have read (and reviewed) a lot of new YA books, most of which certainly deserve more attention. However, for my second choice I’m going to pick Into that Forest by Louis Nowra simply because, whilst I imagine it is selling relatively well, I’m surprised that it isn’t yet a sensation. Currently only boasting four reviews (one of which is mine) on Amazon UK, I first read about the book in a tiny article in the middle pages of a magazine. Despite the article being little more than a footnote, the book sounded right up my street so, after I got my copy, I started reading it straight away.
The book was incredible. It tells the story of two girls, Becky and Hannah, who become stranded in the Tasmanian wilderness and adopted by a pair of Tasmanian Tigers (a creature that is now sadly extinct). As the girls integrate themselves with their new parents, they lose the use of English, disregard their clothes and reject the two-limbed approach to running. The harsh realities of the wilderness also start to stimulate the girls’ animal instincts; they begin to give into the passion of the hunt and even develop a taste for warm blood and raw flesh.
At its core, the story is perhaps a tale of sisterly love, but it also asks the thought-provoking question: if you lose something precious, would you want it back even if it’s changed? I read this book in January of this year and since then, I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I honestly think more people need to give Into that Forest a go.
Dan Thompson, author of The Caseworker’s Memoirs, The Black Petal and Life is all but a vast array of Colours
“Dan lives in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire with his young daughter and his shabby dog, Skye.
He is the Author of the charity poetry book Life is all but a vast array of Colours and phobia Novella The Caseworker’s Memoirs. His first full length novel, A YA Fantasy entitled The Black Petal, is currently in the hands of his Editor and will be available soon.
A lover of YA and fantasy fiction, you can often find him writing on his blog, writing book reviews and connecting online with other writer-type people. Dan grew up reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, secretly coming up with his own inventive adventures, and R.L Stine’s The Goosebump series, before turning to the works of Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer and Marcus Sedgwick and slipping away into alternate realities. He also loves a good Historical Thriller too.”
Like all the wonderful authors who have gone before me, there are just so many YA books that i absolutely love, all for various reasons. But, no surprise here, I’m going to have to choose Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights, which starts off the His Dark Materials trilogy. It really is such a fantastic, absorbing, magical and original book. It follows Lyra on a turbulent journey in search of some missing children, but that only scratches the surface in this multiple-arc novel. With talking polar bears, witches, daemons (animal representations of one’s soul), political secrets and alternate worlds, what more do you need? It was later turned into a film staring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, and since its publication, Northern Lights has always been voted for and ranked in the top 50 children’s books of all time.
Since becoming a blogger and reviewer, I’ve often come across wonderful indie YA novels, which pull you inside and refuses to let you go. But I am going to have to pick The Everything Theory by Dianne Gray for the YA novel that has slipped through the net. I reviewed it here if you fancy a look. But in all honesty, this book is wonderfully structured, suspenseful and touching to boot. It follows the orphaned teenager, Luke who with his best friend, discover that in fact there is a mysterious tenth planet that orbits inside our solar system. It mixes astronomy with thriller elements, as Luke is forced to go on the run, as people around him start to die. He knows it has something do with his discovery of the planet, but it isn’t until he meets a research team that know the real truth about Eris, this ‘new’ planet.
This is a novel that takes everything we know from history, science and culture, and turns it all on its head. As i wrote in my review: ‘This team and Luke soon discover that Eris is set to return into Earth’s orbit and each time it does so, civilisation is wiped out. Imagine a theory; a theory that actually we aren’t the first advanced civilisation who has lived upon Earth. For centuries before us, the ancients knew how to fly, how to create advanced weaponry and how to map out the solar system. However, the world’s wealthiest governments don’t want this information to be leaked to the public and Luke, Seira and co are in a race against time. Not only are they being chased for the information they possess, but as each day ends, the tenth planet moves ever closer and what does that mean for civilisation as we know it?’
Yes, it really is that good! And i strongly urge anyone to go and read this brilliant story. There was a reason I gave it five stars!
And there we have it for part 2! I really hope that over the two posts you’ve been introduced to some new YA books and hopefully been taken by one to add to your to-read list. With the Summer months aproaching (or winter if you live on the opposite side of the world) you’ll definitely want to stock up on some great new reads. And that’s one of the great things about books, they could have been released years ago, but still can capture a new reader today.
I just want to thank Candace, Keris, Sharon, Marcus and Jack for taking part and providing us with some suggestions. If you have any great suggestions, then please do get in touch – maybe someday soon, I’ll do another follow up post and provide some of the suggestions.
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