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.