Young Adult Book Reviews
Burn - Patrick Ness
A gripping, powerful novel of courage and resilience aimed at older teens.
How does the world end? It ends in fire.
The novel is set in an alternative version of 1950’s America in the midst of the Cold War with Russia where dragons are a reality and an uneasy truce between dragons and humans has existed for hundreds of years. Racism and homophobia loom large in this world. The heroine, 16-year-old Sarah, is the product of a mixed marriage and both she and her boyfriend (who is of Japanese heritage) suffer from the prejudice of others, especially the bullying local deputy sheriff. Sarah is grieving over the recent loss of her mother and she and her father are struggling to keep their farm going. Sarah finds herself in the centre of a prophecy about a coming war between humans and dragons. A young assassin Malcolm, part of a dangerous cult that worships dragons, sets out to assassinate her; two FBI agents are close behind him. As the world rushes towards destruction, the action shifts to a parallel universe where further plot twists unfold.
Girl. Boy. Sea. -Chris Vick
A brilliant tale of adventure and friendship in unlikely places .
Bill, a British teenager, is caught in a huge storm off the coast of Morocco and narrowly survives the sinking of his yacht. After days alone at sea in a tiny rowing boat he rescues a girl clinging for her life to a barrel in the sea. Aya, from the nomadic Berber tribe, was escaping to Europe when her ship was destroyed in the same storm. They drift on the vast empty sea through endless sun scorched days and long, dark nights. They are hungry, thirsty, sunburnt and scared. Despite the language barrier their shared experiences lead to them forging a close bond. To pass the time Aya tells Bill about The Arabian Nights, and Shahrazad, who told 1001 stories to save her life. As all hope of rescue begins to fade, they find strength in these tales of magic, brave heroes, cunning thieves, greedy sultans, and brave girls. A great Summer holiday read.
Lark - Anthony McGowan
Winner of the 2020 Carnegie Medal, this short novel is a beautifully written story of survival with the relationship between the two brothers Nicky and Kenny at the heart of the story. Things are getting tense at home, as the brothers wait for a visit from their mum who walked out on them years before. To take their minds off things their dad suggests that they go for a day out on the moors. The boys set out late with their little Jack Russell terrier. It is afternoon before they get off the bus to start their adventure, ignoring the well-meaning bus driver’s warning about the bad weather moving in. What should have been a fun day out, turns deadly when the weather suddenly changes and they are caught up on the moors in a blizzard. There is no disguising the real danger of their situation. There might even be a chance that this time not everyone will make it home alive. This novel tugs at the heartstrings but will also make you smile.
Looking for JJ -Anne Cassidy
Winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize.
Three Children walked away from the edge of town one day-but only two of them came back…
When she was ten Jennifer Jones, did something so evil that the whole world would hate her if they knew. Now six years later she’s rehabilitated and released with a new identity to start building a new life. But when news of her release hits the papers, detectives and reporters are hunting for JJ, threatening to disrupt her fragile new world. Branded as a killer, forced to live a lie, how long can she escape her past?
Twenty Questions for Gloria - Martyn Bedford
Two go missing. Only one comes back.
15-year-old Gloria is tired of her boring suburban life and longs for adventure. When a mysterious boy bent on breaking all the rules joins her class she is ready to fall under his spell. Uman Padeem is funny, confident and intelligent. He does whatever he likes and doesn't care what anyone thinks of him. He can whisk her away from the life she hates and show her a more exciting one. But Uman is not all he seems. By the time Gloria learns the truth about Uman she's a long way from home . . . and the whole country wants to know: Where's Gloria? This is an outstanding psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming.