Best UKYA Releases of 2015
2015 was such an amazing year for UKYA releases and I feel very lucky to have been able to read lots and lots of them. If 2015 was such a brilliant year, I can’t wait to see what 2016 will be like!
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
In Seed, Lisa Heathfield creates a beautiful but dangerous world where the people are ruled by the enigmatic Papa S. Although Pearl loves the life she leads, worshipping both Nature and Papa S, when a new family join the community Pearl begins to realise that the cult society she lives in isn’t idyllic after all.
I loved Seed because of how creepy it felt because you know that Pearl is being brainwashed into loving her life so much. Lisa Heathfield is perfect at making the setting come to life and whilst you do want to scream at Pearl at times and tell her to RUN, you’re also rooting for her and wishing that she’d shake off the chains that Seed has enforced on her.
Counting Stars by Keris Stainton
One of my favourite books of 2015 out of the 100+ I read, Counting Stars caters for an older YA audience. Dealing with flat sharing, friendship and exploring sexuality, it feels as if you are part of the novel when you read it and it is definitely one of Keris’s best novels yet.
I especially enjoyed how modern it felt: one of the main characters, Anna, has her own YouTube channel and it’s not often, surprisingly, that we see huge parts of the novel revolving around Internet life. Keris has written it in particularly well by including transcripts from Anna’s videos. Major LOVE!
The Next Together by Lauren James
Lauren James is one of the UKYA community’s best new talents and The Next Together showcases just how exceptionally she can write. The Next Together tells the story of Katherine and Matthew who are reincarnated throughout the ages and in each life they are destined to fall in love. However, their love tragically ends in each time landscape, despite it also changing the course of history.
Whilst I love historical fiction, it’s not always greatly welcomed but one of the things that Lauren James does best is to mix history with science and romance to create a book that will have you gripped from page one. I became so invested in Katherine and Matthew’s story as it progressed throughout the ages that I found it impossible to put down and I know that many others have felt exactly the same way as I did.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
The fantasy novels I love the most all have a feel of medieval society to them and The Sin Eater’s Daughter definitely delivered on this point. You have a castle, peasants… and also a girl who can kill with a single touch.
Melinda Salisbury has imagined a world in which the reader can delve right into the events and feel as if they are a part of them. Twylla, the main character, is so whole and authentic – she has an equal amount of strengths and weaknesses, just as we all do. I’d like to see more protagonists like Twylla in the future, when authors aren’t afraid to show their characters’ flaws.
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
Holly Bourne is an extremely talented writer and her latest book, Am I Normal Yet?, demonstrates that. Am I Normal Yet? is the first in a trilogy and is narrated by Evie, a teen with OCD and anxiety. Evie is trying to get off her medication and lead a “normal” life, whilst navigating the troubles of college and relationships.
The BEST part of Am I Normal Yet?, however, is that Evie and her friends set up their own Spinster Club, where they discuss feminist issues and these were my favourite parts of the book. I would LOVE to be a part of it! It makes me incredibly happy that teenagers will be reading Am I Normal Yet? and following their own feminist path. It’s incredibly empowering!
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow
I don’t think the YA world has quite seen a book like Crow Moon before, which is a massive shame. It’s both racially and religiously diverse and I don’t think we see enough religious diversity in YA at all – something that definitely needs rectifying! Set in a futuristic world where oil reserves have dwindled, Devon and Cornwall have set themselves apart from the rest of the UK – the Greenworld. The rest of the UK is filled with gangs and is desperate to find a new power source to run the world on.
Crow Moon is teeming with characters that I adore (SABA!) and would like to be, and is also my favourite UKYA book of the year, perhaps my favourite book of the year, full stop. With climate change being a hot topic at the moment (as it should be!), Crow Moon is very relevant and will make readers think about the world we live in.