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Young Adult Fiction Reviews

Looking for some Young Adult Fiction? Check below for reviews of items that are available in our collections to borrow.

Have you read any books yourself recently? Love it or hate it, we'd love to hear about it! Submit a book review here.

‘It Sounded Better in My Head’
by Nina Kenwood

"A wonderfully real coming-of-age story for YA readers. Set in Melbourne in that strange period between getting your year 12 results and finding out what course (if any) you get into for uni, this book is about 18 year old Natalie and her best friends Lucy and Zach. Natalie is a very relatable character dealing with her own insecurities about the future, first love, friendship and appearance. Chapter 33 ‐ wow! Recommended for 15+."

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‘Shallow Graves’
by Kali Wallace

"One day, a year after her death, Breezy wakes up. Not only is she back but she has a new talent. Breezy can sense murderers, and she can return the favour with a touch. Confused and with nowhere to go she sets out to find answers, why this happened to her, why she didn't stay dead, what it means and if there is a way back. She finds a world of monsters who can't be trusted and humans that are worse and she must navigate this unreliable new world and discover what darkness lies at the dark heart of it if she is ever to unearth the truth behind her own fate. This is a great, not quite zombie book that is well written, original and best devoured in one or two sittings."

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‘Catching Teller Crow’
by Amelin Kwaymullina and Ezeikiel Kwaymullina

"This book is beautiful and painful and just damn good storytelling. It starts out like a familiar Australian mystery and then unfolds into something that is poetry, mystery, history and identity, wound into a tapestry full of vivid colour. My only warning is, don't listen to the ending of the audio book in public. It is lovely and sad and devastating and hopeful and made ugly cry in the street. This book will haunt my thoughts for a good while yet."

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‘The Wicked King’
by Holly Black

"I thought there was no way that Holly Black could keep the shocking twists coming after The Cruel Prince and that book two was set to be a disappointment. I was wrong. Holly Black is so, so good at taking a predictable YA trope, creating something truly original, drawing the reader in and then smashing every expectation of the path you thought you were taking. The vicious twist Black spiked in at the end left me reeling, both angry and secretly delighted that we didn't get a happy ending. I can't wait to find out what happens next."

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‘The Sky So Heavy’
by Claire Zorn

"Set in a post nuclear war Australia, where the temperature has dropped and the streets are abandoned, two brothers must face the elements and the remnants of humanity as they search for their family and friends in the city.

"A bit like a cross between Tomorrow When the War Began and On the Beach by Neville Shute. The brothers have to make choices about who to trust and how they will survive.

"It was pretty tense and suspenseful and I felt that Claire Zorn does a pretty awesome job of making this a very Australian take on the end of the world scenario which we see so often depicted in New York or the USA."

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‘The Belles’
by Dhonielle Clayton

"This is my number one pick for best YA release this year: a beautiful, fully realised world with a dark underbelly. I thought that The Belles would be yet another morality tale of beautiful girls in palaces discovering that there is more to life than beauty, but instead it spiralled out into something more nuanced than I ever expected. The complexities of different kinds of beauty, friendship, power and ambition play out in delicious and thrilling ways leaving the reader desperate to know: when will the next instalment arrive and why was it not last week?"

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‘The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein’
by Kiersten White

"How do you make the tale of Frankenstein darker? Have Kiersten White retell it of course.

"In the lead up to Halloween, Mary Shelley's Horror classic is on all of the must read lists and White's reinterpretation is like rediscovering it through a cracked and distorted mirror, with nothing quite as it once seemed.

"Elizabeth Frankenstein is reborn, not as the pure innocent victim full of loveliness and light, but as a manipulative survivor hanging on to her position by hiding the madness of the brilliant Victor Frankenstein from the world, ‘as deceptive as a sour strawberry’ with her artless smiles, beautiful countenance and pale, shining hair to conceal her.

"This book is full of clever twists on the original, turning it inside out and explaining with terrible certainty the true events that led to the undoing of Victor Frankenstein."

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‘Zeroes’
by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti

"An excellent series for fans of X-men and other superhero driven stories such as Misfits, Runaways, Teen Titans and Powers, “Zeroes” follows a bunch of misfit teenagers empowered with special abilities that both help and hinder them from living their lives. Flicker is a blind teenager who can see through the eyes of people around her. Crash can indiscriminately destroy electronics. Anonymous can fade from people's memories. Scam can tell lies that anyone will believe, and Bellwether can persuade people to do things they might not otherwise do.

"What I liked was that the powers are double edged swords rather than gifts. For example, Crash can't visit someone in hospital in case she disrupts all the life support systems, and Anonymous finds it hard to make any real connections with people because everyone forgets him after they leave the room. These afflictions make for some interesting dynamics as they interact with the world, and they traverse some very moral gray areas as they use their powers for good, but occasionally selfish purposes."

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‘The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue’
by Mackenzi Lee

"A young lord who finds it next to impossible to keep himself out of trouble is dismayed to find that the debauched Grand Tour that he had planned with his best friend will in fact contain no debauchery at all, and will include his younger sister to boot. Disappointed and nursing an unrequited crush on his friend, he embarks ready to make the best of things. The trip descends into almost immediate disaster as a result of his antics, as he and his companions find themselves racing across Europe pursued by an angry Duke while trying to unravel an alchemical mystery that could be the key to saving them all. This story also contains pirates!"

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‘The Murdstone Trilogy’
by Mal Peet

"The Murdstone Trilogy is a wickedly funny send up of the Young Adult and Fantasy genres. Philip Murdstone writes moving and critically acclaimed books about sensitive boys… until, that is, his publisher demands he churn out a quick fantasy trilogy which will actually sell. At first a small creature from another dimension seems to be his saviour until everything gets wildly out of hand.

"I read this in a weekend and there were several laugh out loud moments ‐ including the portrayal of the local librarians as being about one broomstick and a couple of toads away from standing around a Shakespearian cauldron and cackling."

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Banned Books Week Book Review

‘The Complete Persepolis’
by Marjane Satrapi

"This book is a memoir in the form of a graphic novel, with simple, expressive illustrations and complicated relationships layered over a backdrop of revolution. Before reading Persepolis I only had a vague idea of Iranian political history. Persepolis is a story of revolution, war and family, but mostly it is a story of the search for identity when the things and places by which we identify ourselves change into something that is only half recognised. It is a story of refusing to let those who tell you not to speak and not allowing them to write your narrative for you. It is unsurprising that people have tried to have this book banned. It is honest, opinionated and unflinching in showing the importance of staying true to the things you believe that make you who you are and its acceptance of the human failings that cause us to fall short of who we hoped to be."

Reasons for banning: Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: "Politically, racially, and socially offensive", "graphic depictions".

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Learn more about Banned Books Week and protecting our right to read by visiting the official website.

‘And I Darken’
by Kiersten White

"And I Darken is the story of Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the Impaler to history, retold as Vlada ‐ a warrior princess. Hard and vicious and willing to do anything to protect her homeland from its occupation by the rapacious Ottoman Empire, Lada is not a romantic princess. She is a soldier without pity and her only loyalties are to her homeland and to her brother Radu. Sent to live in the palace of the Ottoman court as hostages, Lada and Radu must navigate a treacherous political game combining her ruthlessness and his diplomacy to survive.

"Lada is not a likeable heroine. She makes no apologies and gives no quarter, but she is mesmerizing in her strength. A different kind of princess who will fight tooth and nail to bend the course of history to her will and crush her enemies ‐ and if necessary, her friends."

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‘Ink and Bone’
by Rachael Caine

"The Great Library of Alexandria survived and has become an ominous and threatening presence, controlling all access to knowledge. Challenged by revolutionaries willing to commit an unthinkable crime ‐ book burning ‐ a new group of library recruits must decide where their loyalties really lie.

"An unsettling dystopian fiction in which people don't like libraries."

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‘Gone’
by Michael Grant

"Following on in the dystopian books that swept the shelves after the success of Divergent and The Hunger Games, Gone is a series where all the adults have been wiped from the face of the earth and teenagers reign supreme. Problems they face include, hunger, mutations and rivalries between gangs as they try and survive in this harsh new world."

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‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’
by Patrick Ness

"I can't stress enough how good an author Patrick Ness is. He writes about issues that you deal with when your growing up, he talks about anxiety, sexuality, personality, moving, divorce, friendship, the supernatural, zombies, alien body snatchers just your usual stuff and he does it all in a really accessible and interesting way. He doesn't try to hit you over the head with it‐ he just makes those issues part of the fabric which makes up the cast of characters in his books.

"A really unique story written from the perspective of average teenagers living in a world populated by the sorts of troubled teens you find in your Twilight, Percy Jackson and Walking Dead style stories. This is their story, the one that doesn't usually get told. They just want to graduate and get into university without vampires eating everyone, ghosts possessing the adults or aliens invading…again.

"This might seem a little weird and it is. Ness keeps you updated each chapter with what is going on with the crazy ‘Indie’ kids, before going into detail with our main protagonists who deal with much more realistic issues like OCD, depression, sexual identity, divorced parents and love.

"While at some points I really just wanted to read about the immortals and their magic invasion of America, the protagonist Mikey and his friends really grew on me. I found myself churning through this book very fast and really feeling for these kids as they juggle relationships and problems we all tend to face growing up."

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‘Carry On’
by Rainbow Rowell

"This has to be one of my favourite books this year. I highly recommend it to anyone who has read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Read. Fangirl. First. There are reasons. This book is very meta. It's a book written by a fictional character in Fangirl ‐ isn't that great? And because it's a completely different kind of book about a very familiar type of world it's even more fun to get your teeth into.

"This book is huge. It's full of about 7 books worth of happenings in a not-so-enormous size, so it has plenty of wade-through backstory to get past first. Once that's over it's a f's a romance and it's an adventure and even though I could see the twist coming, I still wanted it to keep going. I turned the last page over and looked for more. Enjoy!"

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‘A Thousand Pieces of You’
by Claudia Gray

"Marguerite's parents are brilliant physicists who have dedicated their careers to developing a prototype that will for the first time make interdimensional travel possible. Captivated by the scientific implications of an exciting new frontier in the practical application theoretical physics they are blindsided by the betrayal of a protégé who erases their work, murders Marguerite's father and escapes to another dimension. Determined to get revenge Marguerite plunges after him and so begins a chase across dimensions that are both strange and familiar. As she works to keep her balance navigating the lives of alternate versions of herself while trying to uncover the plot behind her father's murder the true implications of interdimensional contact unfurl beyond anything her parents could have predicted.

"This book is reasonably fast paced and despite some rather eye roll worthy plot twists (An alternate life as princess? Really?) overall it wasn't a bad read. If you enjoyed Amie Kaufman's ‘Starbound’ trilogy and you're looking for what to read next, this book by New York Times Bestselling author Claudia Gray is the beginning of a whole new adventure."

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‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’
by Sarah Maas

"This is fairly paint by the numbers as far as novels about teenage girls falling for mysterious handsome boys that are over 500 years old and have magical powers go. While not as magical as previous shortlister Seraphina by Rachel Hartman or as much fun as Kiersten White's Buffyesque Paranormalcy, ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ is a comfortable book to curl up with on a rainy day when you want to spend some time with the fairies."

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‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’
by Cynthia Hand

"What a riveting read. Lex is in her final year of school, hanging out with her nerd friends and getting over her parent's divorce when her brother kills himself. And this story is about what happens next. Lex is on a rollercoaster with the pressures of school, friends, her ex-boyfriend, her parents and now she's seeing Tyler's ghost. Is she crazy? Is she guilty? Or perhaps there's something that Tyler wants her to do, not that she believes in ghosts. I loved this book, it’s not a huge tear-jerker which is a bit of a surprise when you think about it, but it’s really real. The character Lex is wonderful, she doesn’t accept pity, she just keeps on going even when she's having trouble breathing. This is a book about bravery, and I think you'll love it like I did."

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‘The Rithmatist’
by Brandon Sanderson

"A tale of magic and tactical geometry.

"In a world where wild chalk drawings can swarm and attack people, humanity's only hope are the select few who know how to wield the magic of trigonometry against the invading horde ‐ The Rithmatists whose numbers are dwindling as a serial killer picks them off one by one.

"Not as strange as it sounds."

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‘Life on the Refrigerator Door: a novel in notes’
by Alice Kuipers

"An interesting concept ‐ a story told purely though notes left for each other on the refrigerator door. Fifteen year old Claire and her obstetrician mum live in the same house, but life is so busy with school, work and friends that they are almost living separate lives ‐ hence the almost daily messages they leave for each other. Emotional, funny and heart-warming, this is a very quick read that is sure to reflect on your own life in some way."

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‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’
by Holly Black

"I love Holly Black. I just thought I'd get that out there. I love her writing, I'm a massive fan, and I'm not likely to be unbiased during this review. So. Now I can Squee!!! with utter joy at finding a new book by her, and such a great book too!

"It's a fantasy (Holly Black makes fantasy awesome again), set in the modern world in a little backward village where real fairies live in the woods. Sounds a little bit like everything you've ever read? Think again. There's a boy with horns in a glass casket, children are stolen and swapped for changeling babies, tourists go ‘missing’, it's funny, dark, lovely and has a really great heroine with a badass sword which she uses to deftly remove heads with."

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