YA UK book lists vs YA US book lists


I recently wrote a blog about book covers that discussed, among other things, the difference between US and UK book covers. Then recently I retweeted a blog from Epic Reads about 15 of the Best Young Adult Books That Live Up to Their Hype. Fly Festival commented on the retweet saying that “Interesting how very different American and UK lists are.” Epic Reads is a US based digital community launched and owned by Harper Collins and is aimed at connecting teens with HarperTeen authors and books. Not all the books on the list drawn up by Epic Reads are published by Harper Collins and, whilst not all the authors are American (I counted two Australians and one Scottish), the bulk are. So it is fair to think that the list has been written from the viewpoint of a YA US audience. That got me thinking – what would a UK audience come up with? How many of the 15 books would I put on a similar list and would the list include both US and UK authors?

I am aware that my list is the reflection of what I have read and of my taste – it doesn’t represent the YA UK book world as a whole – it is in effect simply a starting point for a discussion. I have restricted my list to ten books and to books that are well known and are talked about, and then I have considered whether I think they deserve the hype.

I started by looking through the Epic Reads list – on it there are two of my favourites that I would include in my list:

1) Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and

2)The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

I also loved Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas when I read it – I’m not sure it would be in my top 1o but I did enjoy it. There is one book I haven’t read but I have been following – The Hate U Give by  Angie Thomas – which by all accounts is an excellent book.

3) The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – this book has won accolades (Costa Book of the Year 2015) and to my mind they are all well deserved. I loved it and got lost in it.

4) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – another book that has been received accolades (named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book in 2013, and shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal) and which is unusual, interesting and informative. Add to that strong female characters and I was hooked.

5) Between Shades of Gray by Rita Sepetys – I struggled choosing between this book by Ruta Sepetys and Salt to the Sea. I’ve chosen Between Shades of Grey as it was the first book and it is currently being filed for the bog screen.

6) Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy – this book was originally published in 2004 and won the Carnegie Medal. A sequel, Finding Jennifer Jones, was published ten years later in 2014 and there was much, well deserved, hype surrounding the book’s ten year anniversary. An unusual but thought provoking book.

7) Mortal Engines by Philipp Reeve. What a great book and series! I’ve seen devoured by readers and now its being turned into a film by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame.

8) Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman My teenage son recommended this series to me and I loved it. I’ve recommended it time and time again and readers have loved it. Its a fantastic story, well written and so thought provoking.

9) We Were Liars by E Lockhart. this book really got inside my head and U have had readers of all ages tell me how much they loved it.

10) Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison. These books have been hyped and they deserves it, if just for making things lighter, for making the reader laugh out loud and for being so true to the feelings that swamp you as a teenager. Im sure they encouraged many a reluctant reader to read too.

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