Over the last few weeks I’ve finally had a chance to catch up on some reading. There’s a bumper crop of children’s and YA novels out now and in the autumn to satisfy all kinds of readers. Here is a whistle stop tour of some of them. I’ve scored them out of ten. 1/ More Than This by Patrick Ness (out 5th September Walker Books, £12.99)
In a word – WOW. This book is something really special. It’s long – almost 500 pages – but once I got stuck in I couldn’t stop. It’s YA science fiction at its ground breaking best. One of the most original books I’ve read in years, it’s simply mind blowing.
In the opening chapter Seth drowns and wakes up in the suburban English town where he grew up. As he begins to explore his surroundings slowly things start to make sense.
Wickedly clever, utterly convincing, this book is brilliant, don’t miss it.
2/ Have a Little Faith by Candy Harper (Simon and Schuster £6.99)
Written in diary format, this book for young teens is nothing ground breaking but the main character, Faith is feisty and fun. There’s lots of clever use of language and the usual teen angst. A good read for Louise Rennison or Anna Carey fans.
3/ After Iris by Natasha Farrant (Faber)
I loved this book. Bluebell and her family are all trying to get on with their lives after Bluebell’s twin sister, Iris’ death. But life is never easy in this crazy, emotional household. There are pet rats who drive cars, a lovely male au pair from Eastern Europe, a cute but damaged boy, film scripts and more in this brilliant, multi-layered book about families, loss and love. Do read it!
4/ Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (Simon and Schuster £6.99)
A wonderful American YA novel with definite echoes of John Green. After an accident which has left popular jock Ezra Faulkner scarred and unable to walk without a stick, he finds new friends in the debate team. But what happens when his old friends (and girlfriend) claim him back? Will he walk or will he stick by his new friends?
5/ My review of Rebecca Rocks by Anna Carey (O’Brien e7.99) will be in the Irish Independent soon and here is a sneak preview:
Inspired by Carey’s days as a singer in the band El Diablo, Rebecca Rocks is set in a summer music camp and the writer’s hands-on experience shines through in this charming, uplifting story. Fourteen-year-old Dubliner, Rebecca has a mother who writes embarrassing romantic sagas, a father who fancies himself as a musical theatre star and an annoying older sister, Rachel who is always teasing her.
Rebecca’s band, Hey Dollface, decide to attend a summer music camp where they come up against the Crack Parrots and their lead singer, Charlie. Charlie likes to embarrass girls by showing them porn on his mobile phone and picks on boys who look different by calling them ‘gay’. But when he pushes things too far, Rebecca and her friends learn that sometimes you have to stand up for other people and fight back.
Carey doesn’t shy away from dealing with highly topical issues such as bullying, sexuality and internet porn. She never preaches and deals with her subjects in an honest, straight-forward manner. Being a novel, there is of course a happy ending but it’s not a conventional one. The friendship between Rebecca and her band mates is loyal and genuine and although they do worry about having a boy (or in Cass’s case a girl) friend, their love lives do not define them. At the end of the book Rebecca is alone yet happy, which is unusual for a young adult book, yet this works perfectly with the theme of the novel – acceptance.
For the full review, see the Irish Independent next Saturday (or the following one).
I also read Wormwood by Katherine Farmer (Little Island) an urban fantasy adventure for teens set in Ireland 6/10; One Moment by Kristina McBride (Usborne) a solid but predictable American YA novel about friendship and betrayal 5/10; Split Second by Sophie McKenzie (Simon and Schuster), a fast-paced book set in the future about the aftermath of a bomb in London. 6/10
This month’s to read pile includes new books by Meg Rosoff, John Boyne, Judi Curtin, Anthony Horowitz and Siobhan Parkinson. I can’t wait!
Yours in books,