I’ve not really been in the YA scene very long. I started my job as a bookseller on Halloween in 2015, where I dressed up as a witch and read spooky stories to little ones. I already had a bit of a love affair with children’s literature going on, but admittedly much of that was a love for the books I read as a child.
I officially stopped being a teenager back in 2006, but I hadn’t really been reading very much at all for the previous four years ago due to a combination of exams, working numerous part time jobs and discovering boys.
And so, there are many young adult authors that have risen to prominence in the almost 15 (oh god) years since I stopped reading YA as an actual teenager. Stuff published in the last two years? Sure, I know it, probably own it, have likely read it, definitely have sold a few copies of it.
In my determination to read all the back catalogue of UKYA that I have shamefully missed out on, I figured I’d start with some of my absolute favourite people in the whole world. And so, we begin with literal angel human Non Pratt.
For those of you who may not know her, Non is a former children’s editor who then turned her hand to writing her own young adult fiction. She was the author who raised money for charity by shaving her head in front of an audience at the Young Adult Literature Con this year, which startled Benedict Cumberbatch who happened to walk in on us all chanting “SHAVE SHAVE”, which sounded a lot like that scene from Game of Thrones. More recently, she got two of the cutest kittens in the world and you should follow her on Twitter (and read her books).
I read Non’s books out of publication order, and have listed them in the same way.
Unboxed (2016) is Non’s first book for dyslexic friendly publisher Barrington Stoke, and follows a group of friends who come together to retrieve a time capsule they had hidden on their school premises. However, in the years that have passed since its creation, their group has gone from five to four. As they open the box, they find a new addition from Millie, commanding the four to read aloud all their letters from all those years ago, and to share their deepest, darkest fears with each other. This may be the smallest of her books, but boy does this pack a huge punch to the heart. This is a book filled with the memory of friendships that were, changed by time and situation; the nostalgia of returning to places so imbued with specific moments in time.
Remix (2015) is Pratt’s sophomore novel, a perfect summer read that follows two best friends as they attend their first music festival. I really like this summery novel – Kaz and Ruby both exploring growing up, relationships with boys and their own identities as people. It’s definitely a book that suits being read in the summer, lying on a patch of grass and reminiscing about your lost youth at muddy festivals (or that’s just me).
Pratt’s first novel, Trouble (2014), is probably my personal favourite of her works. Hannah is such a passionate, witty and brilliant character who finds herself pregnant. When new boy Aaron arrives at school, Hannah finds herself drawn to him, only for him to offer to pretend to be the father of her unborn child. I found Hannah’s voice incredibly refreshing; a young working class person determined to be true to herself and her child. Rarely have I seen a character who felt so true to my own teen years – awkward drinks swigged while lurking cold parks.
While Trouble is my favourite by a smidgen, I strongly think that Truth or Dare is Pratt’s best book to date. Told in split perspective, Truth or Dare follows Claire and Sef as they start a Youtube channel charity project in order to raise money for the private health care Sef’s brother so desperately needs after an accident leaves him with pronounced neurological damage. The book is split into two halves; the book starts with Claire’s narrative before you physically flip the book over to Sef’s storyline (shortly after which I sent Non a bunch of tweets with expletives in them). It is a brilliant story that also highlights a lot of problems with health care for disabled people, how the standard of it is so often hinged on how unwell you are and what borough you live in.
Wonderful Non has two very exciting books coming out next year: first of all Second Best Friend, her second outing for Barrington Stoke, followed by Floored from My Kinda Books in July, a book about several people stuck in a lift, authored by seven of UKYA’s brightest and best.
Have you read any of Non’s books? Which are you going to pick up next?