Monday 19 March 2018

Of superheroes and stocking fillers

Clear your bookshelves - or better still, buy a new one. You're going to need it for all these great books for teens

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - from Tim Burton's film of Ransom Riggs's book
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - from Tim Burton's film of Ransom Riggs's book

Justine Carbery

Some have been hotly anticipated, some accompanied by much hype and publicity, and some have moved their way quietly to the top of the must-read lists by way of word of mouth. Tackling everything from high school romances to exciting adventures, from emotional stand-alone titles about mental illness and cancer to tear-jerking debuts, this year's pick of the crop has something for all young adult readers.

For the younger teen comes the movie tie-in version of the bestselling trilogy Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Quirk €12.60), and Cornelia Funke's third book in the Reckless series The Golden Yarn (Pushkin €16.99) which will entertain with its thrilling storyline and themes of courage and fear, jealousy and forbidden desire.

The new title in James Dashner's Maze Runner series The Fever Code (Chicken House €14.99) and Derek Landy's American Monsters (HarperCollins €15.99) will make great stocking fillers and Marvel have begun producing quality author-driven superhero novels, with ever popular Irish author Eoin Colfer writing the first in the series. His offering Ironman (Egmont 8.99) is sure to be a big hit this festive season.

From The New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes two amazing stories in one epic novel that explores the issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Turn Replica (Hodder €17.99) one way and read Lyra's story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma's tale : complex and mind-bending, it will have your teen hooked.

A lovely book to get you all tingly and warm inside is The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily (Egmont €12.99) by The New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Who doesn't love a Christmas romance and this one does cute and festive in spades!

Happily, Irish authors are holding their own in the impressive lists of must-read teen books with A Very Good Chance (Orion €8.99) by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald proving a life-affirming read about friendship across a social divide, and being brave and following your own lights. Her previous book The Apple Tart of Hope charmed many and her latest does not disappoint. And Ruth Frances Long's A Darkness at the End (O'Brien €9.99) is the compelling conclusion to the contemporary fantasy trilogy set in Dublin and Dubh Linn. Lovely use of Dublin landmarks, as in the first two books.

For older teenagers comes Claire Hennessy's Nothing Tastes as Good (Hot Key €9.99), a fresh take on the harrowing issues of anorexia and binge eating. Hennessy's protagonist is dead; a 17-year-old whose heart failed because of anorexia, and who is sent back as a spirit guide to a former schoolmate now in danger. A clever, thought-provoking book.

Another novel that tackles the important issue of teen mental health is Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (Rock The Boat, €10.99), a dark, potent tale about self-harm, one not afraid to be gritty and real. I highly recommend it for teens and their parents.

Another powerful but difficult read is Canadian Raziel Reid's bleak novel When Everything Feels Like The Movies (Atom €11.70) , inspired by the murder of 15-year-old Larry Fobes King. This is an important novel which deals with hate, homophobia and celebrity. And Alice Oseman's latest novel Radio Silence (HarperCollins €11.35) vividly conveys what it's like to be an introverted, fandom-obsessed youngster. The edgy urgency and psychological realism of Oseman's writing keeps you gripped throughout.

The Sun is Also a Star (Delacourt €10.99) is Nicola Yoon's intense tale of immigrant families told over the 12-hour period in which a teenage girl falls madly in love while desperately seeking to save her family from deportation. Be prepared to laugh and cry in equal measure. The romantic in me also adored Stargirl (Hachette €8.99) by Jennifer Spinelli, a life-affirming YA novel celebrating first love and self-acceptance - now in a beautiful new edition for the next generation of readers. One for all ages.

One of my favourite publications this year is the exquisitely illustrated gift edition of Frances Hardinge's dramatic Victorian thriller The Lie Tree (Pan Macmillan €14.99) with Chris Riddell's gothic drawings the perfect accompaniment to this powerful story. And I Darken (Corgi Children's €12.65) is the first in a riveting new historical fiction trilogy by Kiersten White about Dracula's daughter. Fascinating to read: an alternative superbly researched story with a strong feisty female lead.

The Serpent King (Andersen €11.19) by Jeff Zentner, covers a year in the life of three very different teenagers in America's Deep South and is an enthralling narrative about dysfunctional families and the enduring power of friendship, while The Graces (Faber €9.99) by Laure Eve about a glamorous privileged family, rumoured to be witches, will have you turning the pages all night.

Two top-notch YA psychological thrillers, bound to appeal to fans of Gone Girl, are Anne Cassidy's gripping novel about the mysterious disappearance of two teens Moth Girls (Hot Key €9.79) and Sarah Pinborough's compelling 13 Minutes (Orion €17.99), which hinges on the mysterious death of local teen Tasha; Pinborough's tight, tense narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Finally no list of young adult reads would be complete without a mention of Patrick Ness's stunning collector's edition of his new novel A Monster Calls (Walker €11.99) about how a boy deals with the looming threat of his mother's death from cancer. An absolute masterpiece, not to be missed.

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