Our top picks for the young adults among us, and the young at heart – because these are novels which impart messages we need to hear and characters we need to know, no matter our age.
Making Friends with Alice Dyson by Poppy Nurosu
Hands down – best rom-com I’ve read in the YA section. Ever. Honestly. Ever. This contemporary fiction is set in Port Adelaide, written by an Adelaidian, and is possibly the most accurate depiction of life in Year 12. Alice is a studier. That’s all she has really done for a long time. But then Teddy seems to be everywhere. Teddy is a great character – he’s so beautiful inside and out and so misunderstood that you yearn for him. This book is brilliant, lifelike and so incredibly honest. The inner drive of Alice whilst struggling with unknown feelings of love and hurt but needing to reach the expectations set by her unyielding mother was just captivating. I stayed up far too late to read this. Then woke up at like 5am to finish it. Yes, it is that good.
Finch by Penny Matthews
This is incredible. The blurb does not give this novel justice; it is about so much more than Finch, Audrey and her move to the country. This environmentally thoughtful creation was a joy to read. Audrey and her obsession with birds is refreshing and has a great innocence to it. Our story line is beautiful, you expect it to become a bit ghostly but instead it explores a wonderful kind of bend in time. Finch is not who he seems, yet his friendship allows Audrey in blossom.
With environmental messages throughout of global warming, human interference with the land and the devastation of endangered species, this novel packs a punch in a way that you don’t expect. It encourages girls to explore science and maths and get outside into the world. An amazing read with a mystery to boot. I loved it to pieces.
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
This novel is a delightfully unique fantasy set in the Middle East with the flavour of an old western. Amani is a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, who resides in the small, end-of-the-line town of Dustwalk. Magic and mystics once ruled her world but have been forced to the dark corners of the desert nation of Miraji by a vicious political regime. This novel is a completely fresh and unique entry into the YA fantasy genre, unlike anything I’ve ever read. Full of djinn, magic and mythical horses, it’s a page turner at the very least!
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
A deadly virus has swept through the child population of the United States. The children who survive it are forever changed. Ruby wakes on her tenth birthday to discover something is very different about her, something so alarming that her parents lock her away and call the police. Children everywhere start demonstrating abilities they didn’t have before – Greens are super smart, Blues are telekinetic, Yellows can manipulate electricity, Reds can manipulate fire and Oranges… well you’ll just have to read to find out. The adults are scared of what they can’t control. Ruby, now sixteen and imprisoned with other kids like her, must escape before it’s too late. Join Ruby and her band of fugitives as they flee from their government and for their lives. An excellent, fast paced read!
The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag
Pick this up. Pick it up now. The artwork is stunning, breathtaking, things you want to have on your wall so you can look at it daily. Now read it, read what’s happened to America, how people have become obsessed with technology and it’s ruined almost everything. Follow Michelle and her robot as they travel across the country in search of… what? What could possibly be so important? You’ll know.
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
This first instalment of a four-part series is extremely exciting. It has the magic of Alice in Wonderland blended with the Victorian world of Dickens. It is full of intrigue, subterfuge and surprise. The characters that Dabos creates will stay with you for a long time. This new voice in the steampunk genre will not disappoint. For lovers of Philip Reeve and Philip Pullman.
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
This book will break you apart and put you back together again… in a good way. A deeply thought provoking and imaginative read which explores the complications that come with growing up amidst an ill-fated mixture of family conflict, loss and first love. Twins Jude and Noah were once inseparable but now they barely speak after an unexpected tragedy. This novel details the journey of Jude and Noah finding their way back to each other, but it’s so much more than that – it would take too long to summarise! Nelson has crafted a beautiful book. I guarantee the poetic – almost lyrical nature of her prose will stay with you months after turning the final page.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This pertinent book confronts and explores the issues that we are constantly bombarded with today: police brutality, racism, drug abuse and domestic violence. But it also considers the everyday problems of the world’s teenagers- young love, fitting in at school and navigating friendships with family and friends. This novel invites teenagers to consider both their own immediate problems and those of the wider world, and it is this blending of near and far that makes this such an important book, and an invaluable lesson too.