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10 YA Novels to Devour Whole Like A Hungry Cobra in 2014

20th Jan 2014

Year of the Snake
Stuck for new year reading ideas? Please see below for witches, cults, apocalypses (plural), rebellion, aliens, time travel, swoony snogging and a Welsh King from the fourteenth century.

1. Alienated by Melissa Landers (Feb 2014)

“Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.”

Despite the Cullen-esque description of the alien boy in question (HE’S HOT), this book explores strange new feelings (can I make it with a Martian?), seeks out new life (and offers it sanctuary and acceptance when no one else will) and new civilisations (or rather, answers on just what is happening to our planet). I’m intrigued by how boldly this author will go to labour the “foreigner” metaphor (possibly as boldly as I just did?), but there’s only one way to find out.

Read it if you loved: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

2. Panic by Lauren Oliver (March 2014)

“Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.”

Oliver writes that feeling of laconic, almost depressive, teenage invincibility so well, I’m intrigued to see how she develops it in Panic, and how this group of disenchanteds interacts with their uncertain future. If you loved Oliver’s Delirium trilogy you’ll be just as excited for this next offering, which dispenses with the pesky love triangle while keeping the secrets/danger/thrills.

Read it if you loved: Divergent by Veronica Roth

3. Half Bad by Sally Green (March 2014)

“In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both.”

Rarely is a début so anticipated, but Sally Green’s novel of contemporary witchcraft has been filling column inches (and now column pixels?) for months. But when comparisons with the likes of Patrick Ness are made, and a brooding sense of totalitarian surveillance is implied, it seems Green’s first novel could deliver everything that it’s promised.

Read it if you loved: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

4. This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready (April 2014)

“Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious.”

Teens get called “impressionable” so often it’s practically a compound term, so it’s refreshing to see a book where it’s the parents who succumb to a cult-like religious group as a way to cope with grief. David, the teen in question, is torn between his regular life/possible first love, and the “Rush” – the cult’s Rapture-alike moment of deliverance which has consumed his parents’ lives. But will he drink the Kool-Aid or stick to Prom punch? Uh, let’s all pretend I didn’t just write that sentence.

Read it if you loved: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

5. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (April 2014)

“Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy.”

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming début My Life Next Door was a reversal of this plot, with a middle class girl falling for the poor boy across the fence. It was set, too, on the New England coast, with secrets twisting like seaweed beneath restless summer waters. But with Fitzpatrick, any negativity associated with these similarities is obliterated under intricate layers of characterisation and genuine, human responses. This should be one to savour.

Read it if you loved: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

6. After the End by Amy Plum (May 2014)

“World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land… and hiding from whoever else might still be out there. At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.”

Perhaps it’s because I’ve enjoyed Ichabod Crane’s amusing encounters with modern life too much lately (or maybe I just miss nuclear war fiction – is it coming back yet?) but this book sounds wonderful. Northern Exposure versus On the Beach, all curated by The Truman Show? Sign me up.

Read it if you loved: How I Live Now  by Meg Rosoff

7. (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn (June 2014)

“There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.”

Is the Big Bad in this book a deadly physical manifestation of the malignity of teen hormones, or something external (although no less symbolic of the struggles of young adulthood)? Regardless, I’m intrigued by this heroine’s attempt to fight back, and also by how Quinn will write her relationship with her convicted sister. Likely a page turner.

Read it if you loved: The Program  by Suzanne Young

8. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (June 2014)

“I want someone who will talk to me honestly about things. You’re the only person who ever has. Maybe you don’t know this, but when you’re disabled almost no one tells you the truth.”

Young disabled people – especially young women with disabilities – rarely feature in fiction. YA does a better job of portraying people with mental health problems, perhaps, but this book – about the power of truth over pretence and slowly cultured relationships over passing courtesy – looks brilliant.

Read it if you loved: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green [Ed note: sob sob!]

9. All Our Yesterdays #2 (Untitled) by Cristin Terrill (August 2014)

“More Marina, James and Finn! The future didn’t turn out quite the way they’d planned.”

All we have so far of Cristin Terrill’s sequel to 2013’s unexpectedly successful time travel thriller, All Our Yesterdays, is a confirmation that it will pick up where #1 left off, at the end of a breathless race to outwit a future genius and destroy his dystopian plans. Saying anything else would almost certainly involve spoilers. So I’ll be quiet.

Read it if you loved: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

10. The Raven Boys #3 (Untitled) by Maggie Stiefvater (2014)

There’s not much info on the third book in the “quartet” yet, but that gives you time to catch up with books one, The Raven Boys, and two, The Dream Thieves. Set in a small, Virginia town, psychic’s daughter Blue and trust fundee Gansey, lead the narrative about the search for an ancient king buried on a protean ley line. Compelling and otherworldly.

Read it if you loved: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

What are you looking forward to reading in 2014?