‘Magic. Sorcerers. Freaks and weirdoes’. Just some of the dark delights in the tenth instalment of Derek Landy’s bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series. In this latest unholy adventure, Mr Skulduggery Pleasant takes on the daunting task of saving the world, a task that entails confronting the most malign forces of sorcery imaginable, along with the occasional impracticalities involved in being a skeleton.
Imagine some ingenious kid setting up a high school gossip app. Imagine said kid being of unfortunately malevolent character, and taking great pleasure in posting his fellow students darkest secrets online. When this scenario is realised at Bay View High, a seemingly innocuous after-school detention sets the scene for murderous revenge and jaw-dropping revelations. One of Us is Lying has been a big hit on this summer’s Teen bestseller list. Containing romance, intrigue, and potential murder, it’s compelling reading, and also remarkably easy on the brain.
The roll call of Roald Dahl’s books is impressive. There can’t be many children unfamiliar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or The BFG. But teenagers often leave his books behind, not realising that he wrote some deliciously subversive short stories, just ripe for adolescent minds. His nod to the macabre is captured in this 2017 Puffin collection, ideal to dip into as September marks Roald Dahl’s birthday celebrations.
Zen Starling, petty thief and one of the ‘…low heroes of this infinite city’, rides the rails in a distant future. His exploits are often nefarious, but he also has an abiding love for the romanticism of the K-Bahn, a galactic train network that traverses the very stars. Desperate to escape his bleak existence, Zen accepts a dangerous proposition, one that will leave him in possession of the very key to the universe. The award nominated Railhead introduces us to an intriguing new universe. Picture a gilded and lamplit locomotive, its huge engine idling ‘like a heartbeat deep inside it’.
July in London brings the annual Pride Festival and Parade, a joyful celebration of LGBT culture and history. It’s the ideal opportunity to highlight This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, a warm and supportive guide to all aspects of LGBT life. There’s no doubt that fizzing hormones and emerging sexuality can lead to tumultuous times. If that sexuality feels different or ‘other’ to the mainstream, then embracing it must sometimes seem impossibly hard and terrifying.
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‘Too old for Wimpy Kid? Meet Joe Cowley’. A fitting tag line to lead us into the fourth instalment of this series. 16-year-old Joe and his band ‘Sound Experience’, move to London, in pursuit of stardom and cosmopolitan living. A squirm- inducing comedy of embarrassment is to follow. Do you have a teenage boy in your life who chuckles at flatulence, cringe comedy, and the word ‘knobber’ as a term of insult? If they also happen to be reluctant readers, then the Joe Cowley series could well be an essential purchase.
Hannah Baker is dead. She committed suicide two weeks ago, shocking her local community. But there are thirteen reasons why she died, and she wants Clay Jensen to know what they are. Her secrets call to him from beyond the grave, and what they reveal blows his world apart. The buzz around 13 Reasons Why has been huge. First published a decade ago, public interest has been reignited by the recent 13-part Netflix series, rocketing it into the bestseller charts.
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Starr’s best friend, Khalil, is murdered by a police officer, in front of her eyes. Khalil, a young black man, is unarmed. The officer, who is white, shoots Khalil in the back. In this electrifying new YA novel, we join Starr, in her fight for justice against the hostile might of the U.S establishment.
Just announced as Waterstone’s Older Fiction category winner 2017, Orangeboy is a maximum impact read. It tells the story of 16-year-old Marlon, who gets sucked into a teen gang vortex of drugs, violence, and ultimately, a dicing with death. Is he strong enough to stand firm against the gangstas who would crush him and those he loves?
Michael Grant is one of this year’s celebrated World Book Day authors. He belongs in the pantheon of YA writers, and Silver Stars is the second in a planned trilogy which imagines an alternative World War Two history, one in which women served alongside men in the armed forces.