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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

YA Euphoria

I’ve been spoiled for choice recently with fantastic YA* reads (Thanks Pan Macmillan for the lovely swag and my Twitter friends for their awesome suggestions!)

The best I’ve read so far has got to be Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.

Forbidden is one the most intense YAs I’ve come across in a while. The story follows the tragic love story of siblings Lochan and Maya, who discover their true feelings for each other after years of hard living and relying on each other for support, while their disillusioned mother slowly but surely disappears from their lives.

It’s an incredibly heart crushing read, especially when the reader discovers along with the characters, that their love cannot survive. Forbidden is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden, but with that delicious us-against-the-world feel that only a YA can deliver.

I love it, love it, love it, a million times over and I can’t wait to read it a second time to experience that wonderful electric breathlessness all over again.

The ending left me reeling.

Close second has to be The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I can’t even begin to describe how much this book resonated with me.

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker is dealing with the death of her sister and best friend in her own way: by shutting out the rest of the world. She finds solace in Toby, her sister’s boyfriend, who seems to be the only person in the whole world who understands her. But soon her relationship with Toby complicates her fledgling romance with Joe, the new boy in town, and sends her life spiralling out of control.

This story is exceptionally beautiful, and some of the descriptions and metaphors were so lovely that I read them over and over just to experience them again.

But as lovely as the writing is, the story hit a raw nerve on a personal front. The book is a heart-wrenching account of the catastrophic effects of grief. The characters in the book are survivors of a sudden death. I know firsthand how death can affect a family. Even after thirty years my family are still haunted by the death of my brother, and even though I never got to meet him, I feel like I’ve grown up in the shadow of this person who was loved beyond imagining.

Another charming love story is Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater, which is essentially Twilight, but with werewolves. Basically the story is about the wistful Grace, and her obsession with the wolves that live in the woods surrounding her home. Then one day she meets “her wolf”, Sam, and their lives become intertwined as they realise their love for each other.

Shiver is whimsical and lovely. I’m a huge sucker for love stories and this is a goodie. Lots of gah! moments.

I’m not the biggest fan of dystopian fiction, but I recently came across one that, to put it mildly, blew my mind.

Veronica Roth’s Divergent (the first in a series and soon to be feature film) is easily one of the best YA titles I’ve read this year. It’s smart, imaginative and superbly written. Divergent drew me in and kept me entranced till the very end.

In Divergent, the inhabitants of a futuristic Chicago have been divided into factions: Abnegation, Dauntless, Candor, Amity and Erudite. Each faction has its own characteristics which benefit the good of society as a whole, but naturally there are players behind the scenes that are plotting against the system.

It is sixteen year old Beatrice Prior, an Abnegnation initiate that chooses to be become a Dauntless, that discovers this evil plot. She is aided by her instructor Four to discover the truth and save her family.

I devoured this book in one night and it has haunted me since I put it down. That’s how powerful Roth’s writing is.

Last but not least, I recently finished Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz. I really enjoyed this writer’s debut, Break, about a teenage boy who compulsively breaks his own bones for attention, and was eagerly awaiting her second. Sadly, this one wasn’t as OMG! as the first, but was still a joy to read nonetheless.

Invincible Summer is about sixteen year old Noah, whose story is told over a sequence of holidays to the family’s beach house. It’s about his reluctance to grow up and his desperate fear of his family falling apart.

The book touches on quite a few issues, such as rape, death, divorce and sex, and is unapologetic in its portrayal of these, which was very refreshing in light of the current debate over the depiction of sex and violence in teen literature.

So these are just a few suggestions from a YA addict beyond help. If you have any must-reads that you want to share please feel free to comment.

*YA = young adult fiction