Hooked on Teen and YABy Nicki Thornton
Jennifer Lynn Barnes£14.99 £14.24
If you like books full of twists and puzzles and can cope with more than slightly bonkers plots I want to recommend a little treat . I have been enjoying the Inheritance Games novels (not in the right order, I never seem to read things in order). If you haven’t discovered them, they are a group of novels centred around a family of billionaire offspring (in their teens and early twenties). These privileged white boys with their private jets are not very likeable, but the sacrifices they make and the high stakes games they must win at all costs have somehow drawn me in. The boys have had an unusual childhood (to say the least), taught by their billionaire grandfather that the only thing that matters in life is to win at all costs. So they are all unsufferably privileged, yet emotionally stunted. The sorts of things the brothers excel at are solving puzzles and fighting –mostly against each other. Until the outside world intrudes and then they discover how tight their family bonds really are. The stories get going when the cracks in the brother’s upbringing means they have a hard time relating to anyone in the outside world. But when up against it, they forget to spend their time fighting each other and realise the importance of emotions. The real enjoyment in these books I think is that all the characters, from the family members, to the bad guys that threaten them, are obsessed with puzzles. Thus the stories are full of these little pieces of intrigue – from cracking safes, to coded messages only the families understand. Also nothing is quite as it seems as there is so much subterfuge and double-crossing. But seeing the brothers grow emotionally is also pretty satisfying. In The Brothers Hawthorne two of the brothers, Grayson and Jameson, discover unknown relatives. Unknown yet still with the same obsession of protecting their secrets with layers of intrigue. Anything from codes to puzzle boxes to games that must be played out on clifftops. Grayson sets out to ensure the sisters he has never met will never discover the secrets of his father’s safety deposit box and engages in plenty of subterfuge of his own until he starts to question his own motives. Jameson meets his father for the first time and is asked to win an invitation to an impossibly high stakes gambling club, something he finds irresistible – and cannot work out if it is simply his desire to win, or he only wants to impress his father. It’s all high adrenaline stuff and I have found these very enjoyable stories.
Kayvion Lewis£8.99 £8.54
Rosalyn Quest is forced to join a cut-throat competition among elite thieves in this high-octane thriller already picked up to be made into a film that I predict will be insanely popular! I loved the well-dawn cast of international thieves who not only have to pull-off amazing heists, but have to do it ahead of everyone else. To win, Rosalyn must outwit all of her backstabbing competitors, including her childhood nemesis. And not fall for the handsome, charming boy. And learn when to trust and when she can only trust herself. It’s a great premise. I love Ros’s inner journey about how much you can trust other people if you are part of an elite family competing to get paid for the best criminal theft jobs around. There is so much to admire about this book but for me, I think what I most appreciated was the plotting. Being someone who loves a complex plot, I feel the skill of plotting is over-looked and seldom mentioned in reviews. But plotting is hard. Plotting so well that readers don’t even question it, is an incredible skill, Kayvion Lewis not only plots out a great story arc for her main character. But there are several heists in the story and each is plotted meticulously so the reader is right on the inside. We not only know in advance the details of the near-impossible task ahead, but for each of them Ros also counter plots how each can go wrong – and who will emerge the victor in each task. Honestly I am in awe. Each one could have made an entire book on its own. And because we know in advance what is supposed to happen, it makes for full reader engagement when we see and appreciate the reveals of how each does not go according to plan. This makes the twists incredibly satisfying.
Chloe Gong£9.99 £9.49
Frances Hardinge£8.99 £8.54
Jonathan Stroud£7.99 £7.59
Gina Blaxill£8.99 £8.54
This is a creepy, twisty thriller, which starts out with a murder but ends up being about something else just as dark! It’s a brilliantly told page-turner which focuses on the very dangers obsession, of being stalked, and how love can be misinterpreted, and also how police are pretty reluctant to do very much until something bad happens. This is such a cleverly plotted twisty story. The main character, Mia, has managed to surround herself with some very creepy men! Gina Blaxill does a deft job of making you believe any of them could be the one secretly obsessed with her – and possibly responsible for the death of a girl who looked just like her. Mia searches for the truth, increasingly afraid someone very close to her is wearing a mask. Plus inside, she feels partly responsible for the actions of her stalker. This is a great thriller and also strongly highlights issues about guilt and victims feeling responsible for the actions of people who stalk them.
Elizabeth Acevedo£8.99 £8.54
Incredibly popular and powerful debut novel by a performance poet about the power of poetry to express what you feel on the inside
Dean Atta and Anshika Khullar£12.99 £12.34
A big hearted and optimistic coming of age story about a boy who feels very different, yet learns how to be himself
Angie Thomas£8.99 £8.54
Immensely powerful and important story centred on a police shooting and how a community reacts.
TRACY DARNTON£8.99 £8.54
Wonderful twisty thriller about a girl with a condition that means she remembers everything. But when her room-mate dies, she starts to question even her own memories.
Leigh Bardugo£8.99 £8.54
One of my favourite recent fantasy titles about a group of misfits who are trying to bring off an impossible heist.
Sarah Crossan£8.99 £8.54
This was my introduction to verse novels and I loved recommending this in my bookshop. A beautiful and atmospheric mini-masterpiece that is deceptively easy to read.
Frances Hardinge£8.99 £8.54
Set in Victorian Britain, but with a fantasy twist, this story manages to be a murder mystery, a comment on the role of women in the early days of science, all brought together with a magical twist. Masterful.
Matt Killeen£7.99 £7.59
Thrilling war-time tale of how a girl must find a way to spy on a select school for the Nazis, and the only way to infiltrate is to make them believe she is one of them
Patrice Lawrence£8.99 £8.54
One boy's desperate effort to outrun the past and keep his promises when everything is stacked against him. Great contemporary London teen characters and a gripping pace.
Anthony McGowan£7.99 £7.59
A profound survival story that is proof you don't need hundreds of pages to write a brilliant, compelling and satisfying book for teens.
Robert Muchamore£7.99 £7.59
If you haven't discovered these brilliant books about a bunch of teenagers who go undercover in dangerous situations, it might just be the thing that makes even reluctant readers realise books can be very, very exciting.
UK) Reeve Devon Philip (£8.99 £8.54
Hugely imaginative and fast-paced sci-fi set in a universe crossed by trains, a boy who has to succeed in an almost impossible task by a criminal mastermind. But anything by Philip Reeve is brilliant
Pam Smy£17.99 £17.09
Wonderfully creepy gothic adventure told through beautiful illustration.
Shaun Tan£25.00 £23.75
Animal stories for adults and teens. Almost surreal illustrations help us explore human relationships with the natural world. Haunting and original
Teri Terry£8.99 £8.54
Fantastic to have a UK-based master of the dystopian thriller with a loyal and growing fanbase. Slated was where it all started, with a story of criminals punished by getting their minds wiped clean.
Sue Wallman£7.99 £7.59
Crime fiction is huge at the moment, and very popular with teens. This is a deliciously suspenseful tale of secrets, lies and revenge at a school. But all Wallman's thrillers are brilliantly sinister.