Thursday 23 November 2017

Rounding up hot holiday titles for teens

Justine Carbery selects a range of books to keep your teenager entertained

Best-selling novelist Cecelia Ahern recently made her first foray into the Young Adult market with Flawed.
Best-selling novelist Cecelia Ahern recently made her first foray into the Young Adult market with Flawed.

Justine Carbery

When I was young there was a huge gap between my favourite childhood books and adult novels. There was Enid Blyton or the Brontes and little in between. But Young Adult fiction has recently become big business, with superb writers penning psychologically acute books for teenagers. These books resonate with them and chime with their interests.

Galway teenager Eilis Barrett has just had her first book Oasis (Gill & Macmillan €14.99) published and it's already making waves. Set in the future, following a group of teen outcasts turned freedom fighters, it tells the story of Quincy Emerson, a girl on the run because she carries the X gene that nearly wiped out the human race. An amazing achievement for a 16-year-old.

Nothing Tastes as Good (Hot Key €10.99) by Irish author Claire Hennessy is a warm and intelligent YA book about an anorexic girl Annabel who is on a mission to save an overweight girl Julia, as a means of getting a message to her family from beyond the grave. An important and refreshing read.

Martin Stewart's Riverkeep (Penguin €10.99), about a young boy on a heroic quest to save his father is a stunning debut, while Kim Hood's Plain Jane (O'Brien €8.99), about a 16 year-old who lives in the shadow of her sister's illness, tackles weighty issues with sensitivity and freshness. Frances Hardinge's highly original The Lie Tree (Macmillan €11.70) sees Faith's Victorian family move to a remote island where scandal, murder and lies grow in the darkness. A brilliant heroine, a great plot and beautiful writing - what more could you want?

For the older teen comes an astonishing and sometimes harrowing book, Needlework (Little Island €9.99) by Deirdre Sullivan, about a vulnerable young woman, who has escaped an abusive situation and is bravely trying to get her life back on track. Like the tattoos of the title, this book is a painful but powerful read. A work of art in itself. For older teens come Anna Seidl's No Heroes (Little Island €11.35), the story of a school shooting and its aftermath, and The Best Medicine (Little Island €9.99) by Belfast writer Christine Hamill, about a 12-year-old boy whose mother has breast cancer. Recent trends show increasing numbers of established adult fiction writers are attempting the crossover to YA. John Grisham has written a legal thriller for kids Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (Hodder & Stoughton €16.99), and Kathy Reichs has a fantastic series of novels for teens called Virals (Cornerstone €9.99).

Closer to home, Cecelia Ahern, has made her first foray into this burgeoning market with Flawed (Harpercollins €15.99). A tense, action-packed read, it tells the story of Celestine North, a beautiful, intelligent 17 year-old, who lives in a dystopian society where everyone is forced to be perfect, and one morally incorrect decision is punished by branding with the letter 'F' for 'Flawed'. My two favourite YA books this year were One (Bloomsbury €10.99) by Sarah Crossan about conjoined twins, which was awarded Children's Book of the Year 2016 and The Thing about Jellyfish (Macmillan €10.50) by Ali Benjamin, both of which were previously reviewed and lauded in this newspaper.

Other teen books to note are Caramel Hearts by ER Murray about a troubled teen who makes a lot of wrong choices and finds solace in baking, Mosquitoland (Headline €10.50) by David Arnold, and the beautiful new edition of Stargirl (Hachette €8.99) by Jerry Spinelli.

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