I haven’t done any Friday features for ages, so thought I’d give one a try. This is partly inspired by the recent discussion about the lack of books aimed at boys in the YA market today – believe me, there are some out there! In many cases I’ve raved about these books several times before – but they’re so wonderful that I can’t leave them out! Order is alphabetical by book/series title as there’s no way I could split them.
1. The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan – Gripping, scary as hell, and utterly, chillingly, believable, this ‘stranger danger’ tale would in lesser hands be one of the ‘’simplistic problem novels that read like after-school specials’’ mentioned in this NYT article. With Kalhan writing it, the end result couldn’t be further away. An incredible lead character in Sam, a plot packed with suspense and action, and it’s short enough not to be daunting to a reluctant reader. I’m tempted to use a phrase like “This isn’t a book young adults should read; it’s a book they MUST read.” but that would be irritatingly preachy so I won’t.
2. The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey
Incredibly, this Victorian gore-fest was cancelled a few weeks ago, just as fans eagerly awaited the third book, Isle of Blood. Thankfully, common sense – aided by a blog campaign – prevailed and Simon and Schuster have assured us we’ll be getting more of the adventures of the mysterious Pellinore Warthrop and his courageous assistant Will Henry. Incredibly well-written, these will draw you into the mysterious world of the 19th century and leave you spending half your time wanting to know what’s coming next, and the other half of your time hiding under your bed at the mere thought of it.
3. Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip
Tell a teenage boy that the first book in the series is about a pair of fairies who cross over the veil from their realm to our world and you may struggle to get them to pick it up. Persuade them to read the prologue, which sees hero Seth wielding a crossbow as he prepares to shoot his brother to stop him suffering the agonizing death of being burnt at the stake, and you’ll almost certainly not be able to get them to put it down. With a wonderful narrator and a style that breathes new life into a tired genre, this is superb.
4. Wereworld series by Curtis Jobling
Sixteen year old Drew sees his mother killed by a wild animal, triggering a change he never suspected, as he unleashes the werewolf inside of him. Fleeing from his father and brother who believe he killed her, he tries to help the people of Lyssia against the evil King Leopold the Werelion and his son Prince Lucas, while finding his own place in the world. Epic fantasy at its very finest, this should be far too long for reluctant readers to even think about but I’ve seen kids who wouldn’t normally look at a book even half this thick devour it because of the fabulous action here.
5. When I Was Joe series by Keren David
After Ty witnesses a stabbing, he’s plunged into a nightmare world of thugs on his trail, forcing him and his mother to go into the Witness Protection scheme. Will he ever be safe? Can he fit into his new school while worrying about the people chasing him? And does a certain girl have a dark secret of her own? This is a modern thriller in every sense, tackling tough contemporary issues which every teen will be familiar with. Ty is a simply fantastic character, the story develops brilliantly, and one particular scene is perhaps the most haunting of the past few years for me.
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