My latest novel, due out next year, began life as an adult novel. The subject is adult even though the protagonist is a sixteen year old boy. Two years into the writing and on reflection I began to believe the subject of oppression and class struggle might be suitable for young adults as well as adults. There was nothing else for it, I needed to read as many young adult books as I could lay my hands on.
I wanted to read only the best but I didn’t know where to start. I was staggered by the choice on offer outside the famous Hunger Games and Twilight series. I asked for recommendation and my Goodreads friends were a great source. Here is a small selection of some I have read in the past months.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
There are a lot of mixed reviews about this book and I can see why. First off it would be easy to spoil the read by revealing too much of the story so I am going to say little other than it is about three rich cousins and their poor friend who always spend the summer together. A significant event occurs and everything changes. It has a twist at the end which I had heard about and I spent far too long looking for clues and trying to work out what it could be. I shouldn’t have.
There have been complaints that the writing style is choppy, annoying. I liked it, it was different and felt natural for the age of the narrator (17yrs)
The novel is short, pacey and filled with creepy tension and yet the author still finds room make some pretty heavy social comments and for this I give it four stars.
Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond
Kit Watson and his family return to the mining village where his ancestors lived and worked. He is drawn into the childish game of Death in the wilderness of old pit workings and a story unfolds of friendship, death and the meaning of belonging.
Although this is a YA book it is very dark and well suited to an adult read.
The relationship between Kit and his grandfather is particularly well drawn.
The plot has touches of a Stephen King style but this is gentler and more thoughtful. This is the kind of book I wish I had written.
Skellig by David Almond
I read this in one sitting. A pace perfect fantasy, with unfolding family drama, lots of love and a little sprinkling of William Blake. Loved it.
I picked this up from the library sale bin and read it right away. Philip Pullman is the master of children’s’ fiction. This reads like a fairy tale but is full of drunkenness and adults behaving badly. It is enhanced with very quirky illustrations and asides. It is a short read and I loved being transported through the whole story in one sitting.
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
I really hated this book in the first part. I hated horse point of view, and the fact that the horse seemed to understand everything about the world. When he arrives in war torn France not only does he understand English but German and French too. Then I reminded myself who this book is aimed at and the message it is trying to get across. I settled into the style and stopped being an adult critic. That’s when I started to enjoy it.
It might not be perfect, but what this book does well is show man’s inhumanity to man and beast then counters that by showing man’s humanity to both. I found the historical aspects of the Warhorses very interesting although I’m not sure how accurate they are. The big message is about WW1 and how futile it was.