Monday 21 December 2015

Guest Post: Arianne Shares her Top Five Reads of 2015!

Queen of Shadows is lavish, exhilarating and breathtakingly dramatic; a soaring and a glorious epic. It's complicated, clever and a thrill to read - the kind of book you want to keep reading for days. I loved Manon, Aedion and Rowan, and at almost seven hundred pages, Queen of Shadows made for a stunning addition to one of my favourite YA high fantasy series - I adored it.


Remix is hands down my favourite contemporary of the year, and the most surprising, too. A fast-paced, whip-sharp, exuberant ode to female friendship, the awesomeness of fierce heroines and the occasional ridiculousness of modern teenage life, it manages to be both wonderfully funny and deeply serious. Kaz and Ruby are the friends you need in your life – genuine, ferocious and wonderful. This is Non Pratt’s best novel yet.


Eerie, mysterious and just a little bit magical, The Accident Season is a stunning debut. This is a tale spun as much with spiderwebs and witchery as it is with unreliable narration and big issues. Moïra Fowley-Doyle is hands down one of the most talented new voices I’ve read in YA this year and I can’t wait to see what she turns her hand to next. Daring, dark and spellbinding.


Straightforward, contemporary, gut-punching and genius. They say every book makes you a better writer, and when it comes to Holly Bourne’s third book, it’s certainly true: it’s my favourite by a mile. Am I Normal Yet stays with you and makes you glad it’s been told; it’s so brilliant it almost feels like you can’t do it justice with words, or indeed any endorsement other than delirious flails of joy and shoving a copy into the hands of everyone who comes near.


The Next Together was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and (I love it when this happens) it did not let me down. It’s full of delicious little details and a whole horde of things I’ve wanted to see more of in YA: clever plots, engaging leads, LGBTQ+ characters, a modern take on the epistolary style, the greatest wedding powerpoint to have ever existed, girls in science and of course, a dash of sarcasm-infused romance. Well worth reading.


BONUS: Favourite Read of 2015 Published Before 2015

The Chaos of Stars is magnificent. Beautifully written and full of mythological-romantic-coming-of-age adventure, it’s Stephanie Perkins meets Rick Riordan, and has an absolutely brilliant heroine. Sometimes YA is so focused on hyped releases and forthcoming titles it’s as if older titles just disappear in a puff of smoke come New Year’s Eve, but books like The Chaos of Stars are a reminder that it’s always working looking back for new favourites, too.


BONUS: Favourite Read of 2015 to be Published In 2016:

Bittersweet, gorgeous, incredibly British and only a little heartbreaking, reading Beautiful Broken Things so early has been a joy and privilege. It’s a story that draws you in and doesn’t let go: things are not always perfect in paradise for Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne, but their story is totally engaging; this is a book - and a writer - to watch. It’s full of light and dark - and their (very realistic, and occasionally drunken) texts are laugh-out-loud, pitch-perfect funny. Remix, Am I Normal Yet? And Beautiful Broken Things mark a move toward what I hope is a year of extraordinarily joyous, real, messy, positive female friendships in YA. For most teens, the support of love-you-even-when-you’re-hungover, fight-for-you-when-you’re-down, hug-you-when-you're-sad, celebrate-your-very-existence best friendship matters way more than boys or bickering or saving the universe from glittery space goats, and I love that it’s finally being celebrated in the way it deserves. These are books which say (in the easiest, most delicious way) jog on, artificial cliques and tired stereotypes, because the YA squad is finally doing female friendship justice. Armed with a penchant for incredible warmth, intense drama and fabulously down-to-earth writing, Sara Barnard makes it clear that this contemporary doesn't have to be sugar-coated to be sweet, and that some stories don't have to involve a romance to be about love.


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