Books: The best teen fiction for the Easter holidays

Adventures rise up to meet expanding horizons in this selection of fiction for teenagers
Prize-winning author Claire McFallPrize-winning author Claire McFall
Prize-winning author Claire McFall

Award-winning Canadian writer Kenneth Oppel’s Every Hidden Thing (David Fickling Books, £10.99) tells the story of 17-year-old Samuel Bolt and his quest to find the skeleton of “Rex” – the king dinosaur – of whom he has only seen a tooth so far. He accompanies his aspiring prospector father into the dangerous Badlands, where Native Americans and Cowboys collide. Seventeen-year-old Rachel Cartland and her wealthy professor father are also after the skeleton, so a race ensues. Can Rachel prove to her father that she is an asset on the expedition or will he send her back to a society trying to get her to marry and have children? Immersive, passionate and eloquent, Every Hidden Thing tells of the first prospectors digging up dinosaur bones, but it also speaks of female emancipation in the male-dominated Wild West, of choosing between love between people and the love and passion for a vocation.

Emerging Australian author Lili Wilkinson’s The Boundless Sublime (A&U, £6.99) plunges the reader into the grief-drowned world of Ruby Galbraith who is mourning the loss of her brother. When she meets Fox – wise, beautiful and clever, but also naïve – she begins to fall in love. He introduces her to The Institute of the Boundless Sublime where he has lived all his life. Everybody at the Institute seems to understand and accept her, especially Daddy, its enigmatic leader. As Ruby is drawn into Fox’s world, she realises that at the Institute all is not what it seems, but can she escape in time to save them both?

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The Boundless Sublime shines a light on modern-day cults and sects, laying bare the insidious tactics used by those who prey on the vulnerable, stripping away their individuality and terminating contact to family and friends. It’s a riveting read that draws you in and spits you out at the end, panting for breath.

“Flora Be Brave” is tattoed on 17-year-old Flora Banks’s arm in Emily Barr’s The One Memory of Flora Banks (Penguin, £7.99). Flora has anterograde amnesia, following an accident when she was ten years old. She remembers everything before the accident, but is unable to remember anything that has happened to her after, forgetting things shortly after she has experienced them. She doesn’t know how or when she got the tattoo but she lives by its motto. Then one day Flora kisses her best friend’s boyfriend on the beach just before he travels to the Arctic and when she wakes up the next day, she remembers. While her parents are busy caring for her terminally ill brother in Paris, Flora travels to the Arctic alone to find the boy again. But what really happened that day on the beach? Who can Flora trust? A rollercoaster ride of a novel.

Shanghai-born US resident Jack Cheng’s See You in the Cosmos, Carl Sagan (Penguin, £6.99) is the perfect read for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski is recording life on Earth on his golden iPod and planning to launch it into space in his self-built rocket. His father is dead, his mother is mentally ill and his brother is absent, so there is only his loyal dog Carl Sagan (named after his hero) to accompany him to a festival in the New Mexico desert to launch the rocket. On his journey across America he uncovers family secrets, makes new friends and finds more truths than he’s able to record.

Insightful, funny and touching, Alex’s way of viewing the world and dealing with life are inspiring. He finds positives even in the saddest and most difficult situations.

Award-winning Brian Conaghan and Sarah Dessen’s first collaborative novel, We Come Apart (Bloomsbury, £7.99) is written entirely in verse. Nico is a Romani traveller trying to ignore the impending arranged marriage forced on him by his family. Jess is trying to stay away from her mum’s abusive boyfriend. They both get caught shoplifting and have to do community service, where they first become friends and then fall in love. We Come Apart proves that you don’t need many words to tell an emotional, impactful story. Conaghan and Dessen deliver an outstanding novel that really packs a punch.

Finally, congratulations to Claire McFall who has won the Scottish Teenage Book Prize with her brilliant thriller Black Cairn Point (Hot Key, £6.99). n

Jasmine Fassl