Autumn Overview – Teen/YA

Continuing my recap of the books I read as part of my recent ‘reading challenge’, today I’m summarising my thoughts on the YA books I read.I should probably add that I didn’t choose any of the books I read for this, and consequently while I normally avoid posting negative reviews I wanted to post a thorough recap of this challenge, so the negatives are in there too!

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder – A brilliantly bleak but hopeful read, great use of language and dialogue, and blending fact and fiction through its historical influence and inspiration.

Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter – A bit too optimistic and rose-tinted for my personal tastes, but it dealt really well with body issues, bullying and loss and would make a great tween read. A book and an author I’m sure would be popular.

How to Rob a Bank by Tom Mitchell – I really didn’t get into this! Fast-paced and farcical, maybe it would be a good light-hearted, contemporary read for teen/tween readers, but I just found it too far-fetched and lacking in depth or substance.

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson –Lots I liked about this – the murder mystery element kept me guessing and I liked the way the twists kept coming and the plot kept developing, I also liked the way the romance didn’t take over or feel forced. But I did feel like there were too many ‘issues’ crammed into one book.

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen by Sophia Thakur – I thought this was really moving and relatable. I thought it was a fantastic collection of poetry covering a wide range of issues – it’s one I’ll be returning to and one I’d like to see break through and be a hit with teen readers.

Internment by Samira Ahmed – I think I liked the idea of this more than the actual thing! The storyline is a terrifyingly relevant, all too plausible dystopia in which Muslims are being gradually segregated and interned. Elements of it felt scarily possible and read really well, but overall I found the romance overshadowed this and it became a bit too easily solved and sorted.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi – Loved this. Powerful, thought-provoking, original and imaginative with immensely likeable characters and voice. Also really great to see a trans main character whose trans status was completely unrelated to the plot and had nothing to do with the story. How representation should be!

I Will Not Be Erased by Gal-Dem (various) – Informative, positive, empowering and reassuring, this looks at many relevant teen issues . The use of diaries/experiences from their own teen lives does make it seem like more than just more adults spouting wisdom BUT if I’d read it as a teen I know I’d still have given it an eye-roll! However, it gives a voice and a message of encouragement to those who maybe don’t see themselves represented as often, so maybe they would appreciate it more than I would have!

The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton – I thought the representation of mental health and the way we see Neena’s spiralling downwards as the book progresses was excellent, accurate and unflinching but sensitive. Personally, I disliked the romance aspect of the book and the way this played into the plot, but I suspect teen readers would enjoy it.

In the Shadow of Heroes by Nicholas Bowling – Perfect for those with a love of mythology and/or history this had a great sense of place and time with main characters I really got behind. I also really liked the ending.

Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge – Deliciously creepy and atmospheric, this wove family history, mythology and horror together brilliantly. Again, I loved that though it featured romance, it didn’t take over and there was a really positive message about self-confidence too.

Jelly by Clare Rees – It certainly wins points for originality! The slightly odd setting and circumstance grew on me and were clever ways at highlighting environmental issues now, but it didn’t have a style or voice I particularly loved and I felt like there was a lack of depth to the characters.

All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins – I really liked the voice of our narrator and it’s made me want to read Collins’ first book now too, despite not usually being a fan of ‘contemporary’ YA. Dealt really sensitively with real-life themes, particularly change, and nice to bi-sexuality being portrayed in YA.


5 thoughts on “Autumn Overview – Teen/YA

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  1. Not really read many of these (maybe I’ll need to take on a reading challenge of my own, I’ve only ever done that once though and it was more MG 😉), but thrilled you liked AGGGTM. It’s one of my faves from this year so far, and I’m buzzing for the sequel. I’ve wanted really great YA mystery for so long and I’m so happy to finally have one I LOVE this much.
    Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did, it wasn’t one of my favourites – I think the melodrama of including every issue under the sun spoiled it a bit for me! – but I liked the mystery aspect.
      I think my favourites were Pet, Bearmouth and The Twisted Tree.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to see this as We both have the same issue with YA!! For me I felt the Jemima Small was more upper MG as it is lighter and frothier amongst the big issues I think there is definitely an audience gap for that age group that needs properly defining and filling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I agree with that – I think it makes a good ‘tween’ book. (I’d also say it was more upper MG but it was classed as YA in the challenge so that’s where I’ve reviewed it.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I get that it is classed as YA in other things which isn’t really a right fit- when you look at Jemima and then The Exact Opposite of Okay one might think YA is too broad a term that needs looking at again!


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