The world of Young Adult (YA) fiction is enjoying a long-running boom. Sales are consistently buoyant, with YA novels reaching large numbers of mature readers as well as their traditional teen market. So it is apt that this on-trend literary form is celebrated as one of the book world's most exciting, malleable genres.
Bookseller magazine's Young Adult fiction award - the coveted
YA Book Prize - is in its second year. This time round the shortlist showcases outstanding examples of work by talented writers across this wide-ranging category. There is plenty here to keep YA aficionados happy, with subject matter ranging from gritty social issues to entire fantasy worlds.
Read on for IBTimes UK's reviews of some of the finest YA titles available to buy now.
The Costa Book Award-winning novel is a multi-layered narrative which contains a broad appeal for readers of all ages.
Hardinge is a wildly original writer and The Lie Tree is arguably her best novel to date. It has already been awarded the Costa Book of the Year 2016 prize - the first children's book to win since 2001.
The story is set in an alternative Victorian era and the protagonist, Faith, is a scientist's daughter. She comes across a tree that feeds off lies and can alter reality. The novel becomes a sophisticated, multi-layered narrative dealing with feminism and evolution.
A gang rape in a small Irish town leads to online persecution - with terrible consequences.
Emma O'Donovan, 18, lives in the fictional Irish town of Ballinatoom. She wakes up after a party to discover she has been gang-raped but, instead of support, she finds herself the victim of online humiliation and abuse: "Slut. Bitch. Skank. Whore. You were asking for it."
O'Neill delivers the novel in the first person from Emma's perspective and the story tackles the thorny issues of sexual consent, victim blaming and self-harm. This is courageous, hard-hitting writing.
A satire about the havoc unleashed by a drug intended to control troublesome teenagers.
Sutcliffe's novel is set in a future London, in which the drug Concentr8 is prescribed for kids with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). A gang, led by Blaze and his sidekick Troy, have been using the drug for years. Then, during rioting, they take a hostage and a stand-off with the authorities ensues.
Sutcliffe challenges the belief that we can control wayward teenagers through medication. His satire is uncomfortably close to reality.
Ness attempts a parody of the whole young adult fiction genre and pulls it off in style.
Ness has taken a big risk with this novel — he has presented a parody of the entire teen fiction genre. Our anti-hero is Mikey. A group of immortal beings have selected some of Mikey's classmates to become superheroes and save the world. Meanwhile, Mikey is busy tackling exams and dating. In other words, as the novel's preface puts it: "What if you aren't the chosen one?" Ness pulls off this witty parody with panache as he makes the mundane realities of Mikey's life more compelling than any fantasy tale.
A contemporary look at a historical story of deception and cross-cultural confusion.
Catherine Johnston has used a real historical incident as the basis for her novel. In the early nineteenth century, a working class girl called Mary Willcocks convinced an affluent rural family, the Worralls, that she was a Javanese princess called Caraboo. It took a while for her deception to be exposed. In Johnston's version, Willcox is attacked by a band of men before deciding to masquerade as an aristocratic warrior. This is a powerful tale of poverty and cross-cultural confusion.
A dark alternative world featuring strange mythology, illicit romance and death.
Salisbury has created a dark alternative world, complete with strange mythologies. Seventeen-year-old Twylla is our heroine, but she is also a monster — an executioner who can kill with a touch of her poisonous skin. Her mother, meanwhile, is a Sin Eater: when people die she consumes food which is symbolic of their transgressions. Salisbury's characterisation and plotting are strong, let down only by a limp romantic strand. This is the first of a trilogy and the remaining volumes will be eagerly awaited.
The complexities of teenage life are made much more challenging by OCD.
Sixteen-year-old Evie's days feature obsessive thoughts and endless hand-washing. In the recent past, she has endured heavy medication and confinement in a mental hospital. But now she's about to go to college and she's worried that her secret might slip out. She has two close friends, Lottie and Amber, but that is not enough: she yearns for a boyfriend too.
Bourne's novel explores the complexities of OCD, as well as the stigma that continues to surround the condition. The key message here is that nobody is normal.
The remaining three novels of the ten-strong shortlist
have already been reviewed by IBTimes UK, and are Unbecoming, by Jenny Downham (David Fickling Books); One, by Sarah Crosnan (Bloomsbury Childrens); and The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson (David Fickling Books).
You can read more on The Art of Being Normal, and other select titles, in our
2015 book gift guide.