(Back to the YA reads for this one!)
Ian Somers – The Million Dollar Gift
I have a feeling 11+ boys will lap up this one – a boy with superpowers and a skateboard living in the world as we know it (lots of contemporary references). Ross has a gift he’s never shared with anyone – but when his summer job at the supermarket proves just too hideous and there’s an opportunity to win a million dollars, he reveals the gift to his testers – and gets pulled into a web of secrets and lies and explosions. There’s some fun playing about with formats here and I particularly loved seeing the history of all the different gifts. There’s a sequel on its way, too.
Sophie Flack – Bunheads
Sophie Flack danced with the New York City Ballet for several years, and puts her experience to good use in her debut novel for teenagers. Bunheads depicts the life of nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward as she struggles through the grueling, all-encompassing (yet addictive) world of professional ballet dancing, and begins to question whether this life – without much space for anything else, including a blossoming romance and other passions – is really what she wants. This is a fascinating read and one well worth checking out, particularly for ballet fans or for anyone with a consuming passion of their own.
Siobhan Vivian – The List
Siobhan Vivian’s latest book features her trademark blend of smooth writing, memorable and unique characters, and feminist-without-being-preachy issues. This book tells the story of one week in a particular high school, and the story of eight girls on a list that labels them as either Ugliest or Prettiest in their year. It’s a really interesting book, going beyond the pedestrian (not quite ‘but we’re all beautiful inside’). I remember reading an interview with the author in which she said it was like writing short stories rather than a novel, with the eight main characters, and there are definitely times when it feels like interlinked stories – no bad thing, but it does leave you with that short-story feeling (havng had an intense connection with a character yet knowing there’s much more to their life than you’ve seen) at the end. Definitely worth reading, though.
Paige Harbison – New Girl
I am slightly bewildered as to why this book doesn’t advertise its origins more clearly. When I first encountered it, my response was ‘meh’; when I read a piece that pointed out that it’s a modern version of Rebecca (set in a boarding school, no less!) I was immediately intrigued. The allusions are not terribly subtle – the narrator’s roommate is named Dana Veers! – but it’s a very nifty retelling/reworking of a text, complete with much teenage angst and craziness and sex. Really enjoyed it.
Beth Revis – A Million Suns
I hugely enjoyed this follow-up to Across the Universe. As with the first volume, there’s plenty of mystery and intrigue alongside romance and social unrest – all within the confines of a spaceship in trouble. The book is narrated by both Amy – a girl from our near-future who was woken from cryogenic stasis – and Elder, who’s lived on the ship his whole life and is the chosen leader of the people. Although their romantic relationship is an ongoing part of the plot, it never overwhelms it – there’s so much more going on than just a romance, or even just a murder mystery. Also, it’s set in space! I can’t wait until the third and final volume in the trilogy, Shades of Earth, is published (early 2013).
Carrie Jones – Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend
I’d been meaning to read this for years. Belle lives in a small town and her perfect boyfriend has just told her he’s gay – what’s a girl to do? This is a quick read, but very enjoyable – the characters are quirky and compelling, and it’s hopeful without resolving everything too tidily.