27th September 2014 - Joanne Stapley
This week's announcement of the YA Book Prize should prove welcome news for both authors and fans of an area of literature that has seen huge growth in the 21st century. The inaugural award will be presented at Foyles next spring, after a shortlist released in December, with our Children's Buyer, Joanne Cocadiz among the judging panel.
Joanne Stapley from our Charing Cross Road branch - and the creator of the YA and fantasy blog Once Upon a Bookcase - celebreates the fact that British and Irish writers now have the recognition accorded to their American counterparts and picks out some of her favourite recent YA titles.
On 25th September, The Bookseller announced the launch of the YA Book Prize, in association with Movellas . While there are several UK children's book prizes, up to this point there hasn't been any that focus specifically on young adult novels, so they created the YA Book Prize to celebrate the numerous YA novels written by authors from the UK and Ireland.
This is fantastic news. Although the UK and Ireland undoubtedly are home to so many talented YA authors, the YA market is full of books from US authors. If I'm honest, most of the YA novels I read are from American authors - out of the 45 YA books I've read so far this year, only four are from authors from the UK and Ireland. And if you browse books without looking into where authors are from, it can be difficult to spot the home grown novels amongst the American. Even with fantastic websites like UKYA and Project UKYA that promote books from authors living on our doorstep, if you don't know about them, these books can go under the radar.
So now, thanks to The Bookseller and Movellas, the enormous YA talent residing in our little group of islands will be getting a lot exposure. By early December the shortlist of eight to ten titles by UK and Irish authors published in 2014 will be announced, and the ceremony announcing the winner will take place at our very own Charing Cross Road Branch on 19th March 2015. I'm already eager for the list so I can discover and rediscover some our wonderful authors!
But why wait until December to read some of these brilliant authors? Here are some of my favourite YA novels from UK and Ireland.
One Seriously Messed-Up Weekend in the Otherwise Un-Messed-Up Life of Jack Samsonite by Tom Clempson
Jack is 17 and has to think about his future. Which uni will he go to? What course does he want to study? What's he going to write in his personal statement? Which girl is he going to kiss on film to get a good grade in Media Studies, which will allow him to go to uni? When is he going to kiss this still-to-be-decided girl? Jack has to get all these questions answered in two days, while covered in poo, wearing a gingerbread man costume, avoiding a French Nazi Zombie deputy head and a band of Pygmy Warriors, without flashing or crapping himself. So fairly easy, really.
Undone by Cat Clarke
When a video of Kai is put online, outing his sexuality, he kills himself. Jem, his best friend is distraught. Not only is he her best friend, but she's in love with him, and the loss is more than she can bear. The only thing that is keeping her going is working out who outed Kai, and making them pay.
And By the Way... by Denise Deegan
Alex is suffering terribly from the death of her mother six months ago. Her Dad pretty much acts like she doesn't exist, and she feels so alone. She has her friends, but she is so absolutely terrified of losing anyone else, she holds back from people. She doesn't share what she's feeling, she'll avoid socialising outside school. She keeps herself behind think concrete walls and won't let anyone inside. Until David starts showing an interest, and just won't leave her alone.
Pretty Things by Sarra Manning
Obsessed with fashion and make-up, and known for not being the brightest spark, Brie is thought of as a bit of an air-headed bimbo, but underneath the clothes and cosmetics, she has hazardously low self-esteem. Charlie, her best friend, is the only person that really knows the girl behind costume and understands her, the only one who'll really give her the time of day, and she's in love with him - even if he does force her to join the summer drama club. Charlie, however is gay, and has had difficulty finding a guy he really likes, and so when he does finally fall for someone at drama club, Walker, is pretty crestfallen to discover that he's straight. Walker is known for his promiscuity, and is loathed for how he treats girls, but what no-one knows is that he is constantly being disappointed and having his heartbroken by girls, finding out that were never the people they alluded to be. But then he meets Daisy at the drama club, who is so much more than just her beauty, and everything Walker has always wanted. But Daisy is a lesbian, a card-caring feminist, and has strong views about gay rights - though she's not as sure of herself as she seems.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
In a world where woman are genetically engineered, designed to perfection, with the sole purpose to please men, freida and isabel are starting their final year. At the end of the year, it will be decided if they will be a companion to a man, being his wife and baring him sons; a concubine, living out life in a harem, providing sexual gratification for any man who wants them; or a chastity, a nun-like woman who lives a life of quiet selflessness or as a teacher at the School. There are only ten men who can choose from the 30 available girls - only ten will become companions. Everyone is eager to be the most beautiful, and competition and cattiness is encouraged, as is self-hate and the desire to always look better. In this final year, while all are excited and eager to see what the outcome will be, isabel starts putting on weight and neglecting her appearance. frieda cannot believe what her best friend is doing, but if she wants any future for herself, how can she be seen to feel anything but disgust for her friend?
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