Sunday, 19 June 2016

Top 6: Summer YA Reads

Helloo, I thought I'd share my recommendations for top summer YA reads today! It's definitely raining outside right now, but that doesn't mean you can't curl up with a summery book and pretend we're enjoying a proper sunny summer. Some of the following are sunny, fun beach reads, others sunny, deserty, or boaty with excellent heroines, and some pretty intense reads perfect for when you've got time on your holidays to read a whole book in a day. So, if you're wondering which YA reads should take up valuable flipflop room in your suitcase, look no further than:

1. Asking For It- Louise O'Neill

Right in at the deep end with Louise O'Neill's harrowing Asking For It, which tackles head on issues of rape culture, victim blaming, and slut shaming to name but a few. Asking For It is the story of Emma O'Donovan, a confident, pretty, popular girl in her last year of high school in a small Irish town. Emma is raped by several rising football stars at a drunken house party, remembers nothing, and learns of these events, along with the whole town, through explicit smartphone photos shared on social media. Emma's own refusal to believe the events occurred, and the town's fear for the boys 'ruined futures' chimes true with just about every campus rape victim blaming story you've heard of in recent years. Being inside Emma's narrative in the aftermath of this traumatising experience is harrowing, but also so compelling. Why am I recommending with super dark and intense book as a summer read? Well I reckon you'll want to read it in a oner, and then have several hours/days to reflect and recover, ideally with wine in easy reach and a swimming nearby. 

2. How Hard Can Love Be?- Holly Bourne

Lightening the mood a little is Holly Bourne's How Hard Can Love Be? the second book in the Spinster Club series! Am I Normal Yet? followed Evie, who was dealing with both sixth form college, making friends with Amber and Lottie, and keeping on top of her OCD. How Hard Can Love Be? is Amber's story of her summer holiday spent in California working at the summer camp where her mum now lives with her new husband. Hoping to rekindle a relationship with her recovering alcoholic mum, searching for the special bond that they maybe never even had, harbouring a crush for fellow camp councillor and former prom king Kyle, and keeping up feminist discussions with Evie and Lottie via Skype, Amber has a very full plate, and that's before you mention all the little American school children under her care. Holly Bourne is so good at making angst seem not angsty at all, making How Hard Can Love Be? a super engaging and fun summer read. 

3. The Rest of Us Just Live Here- Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness's The Rest of Us Just Live Here, is basically from the perspective everyone in town who wasn't in Buffy's scooby gang, or in Dumbledore's Army, or in Bella's coven. All the non-chosen ones, who have to deal with the mysterious mystical goings on, or the next end of the world, as bystanders. Mikey is a teenager, who just wants to go to prom with his friends and graduate before the high school is blown up again. Mikey's more ordinary issues, dealing with unrequited love, battling OCD, and navigating family life all play out against the backdrop of another epic mystery for the 'indie kids' to solve, with snippets of these absurd and melodramatic stories providing a juxtaposition to the main chapters. Perfect summer reading as it's in the run up to prom, with just the right amount of satire of hero stories and conviction in the heroism of everyday actions. Full of heart, humour, and warmth. 

4. Bullet Catcher- Joaquin Lowe

This one's on the summer list for its sandy desert setting. Bullet Catcher by Joaquin Lowe follows the story of Imma, who lives in a desert land populated by gunslingers and once great, but now died out bullet catchers, and who leaves the small town of Sand on the tail of a stranger she saw catch a bullet, in search for her possibly dead and definitely long lost brother, Nikko. Gungslingers and bullet catchers representing either good or evil, hero or monster, Imma has to work out which is which and therefore which path to take. I thought this was a great read, I really engaged with Imma and found the plot to be driven by plenty of action and momentum. A total page turner for poolside reading, and a potential new favourite gunslinging heroine. There may be another gunslinging heroine on this very list though so choose your fave!

5. The Girl From Everywhere- Heidi Heilig

Heidi Heilig's The Girl From Everywhere is a perfect Hawaii based, time travelling, summer read! Nix Song lives on a pirate ship with her father and their crew, spending their days using historical maps to time travel to places and times collecting fantastical creatures and mythical objects from all around the world. Nix is sixteen, and is particularly good at finding the perfect maps for time travelling, as each map can only be used once. The story begins in India in 1774, travelling to present day New York, and then to Honolulu 1883. Most of the story plays out in Hawaii, where Nix's late mother once lived, her father desperate to find a map to take him back to the time before her death. The story was exciting and compelling and I really like Nix and found her soul searching and life planning very relatable, even if her concerns were time travel based! Definitely recommended reading for anyone who loves Pippi Longstocking, Lyra of Northern Lights fame, and pirates!

6. Rebel of the Sands- Alwyn Hamilton

This beautiful shiny book will look great in the sunshine. Our second gunslinging heroine of the list: Set in a desert land with magical sand beasts and a Rebel Prince uprising against the king, Amani Al'Hiza is determined to leave her tiny dead-end town and head for the bright lights of the big city. Our heroine is particularly skilled with guns, and can definitely fend for herself, although it helps that she can pass for a boy. The world building is brilliant- I had amazing imagery in my head of this Middle Eastern meets cowboy Western land, especially appreciating the train scenes, there's just something about a desert train that I really love. Romance, adventure, mythology, and gun-slinging are all woven together beautifully, in what I was very pleased to learn is the first part of a trilogy. I reckon this one would be perfect for any summer train-based travel you may have planned!

Let me know your summer YA recs! 

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