Full Disclosure (Penguin, £7.99) is a breath of fresh air in Young Adult fiction. The novel features Simone Garcia-Hampton, a queer black teen born HIV-positive. Simone must navigate a world of fear, discrimination and ignorance around her inherited disease. She overcomes all the challenges thrown at her and remains a strong and inspiring character. Written by Camyrn Garrett when she was just 17, this eye-opening book speaks to teens in a true and honest voice. Full Disclosure is entertaining, empathetic and laugh-out-loud funny and it’s sure to get teens, and adults, talking.
An equally compelling read, Pet (Faber & Faber, £7.99) by Akwaeke Emezi is a wonderful mix of fantasy, dystopian drama, political commentary and coming of age tale that is sure to grip any reader. The protagonist, Jam, lives in Lucille, a town ruled by angels. All monsters were removed from Lucille during the revolution, which began when “people believed the victims.” Despite the safety of Lucille, a monster has re-emerged and Jam must track it down. Pet is an artful piece of storytelling. It addresses complex themes in a sensitive and deeply considered way, speaking directly to contemporary society and our current political climate. Subtle and poignant yet also packing a punch, Pet is a must-read.
The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future by Veronica Roth (Harper Collins, £14.99) is a collection of captivating science-fiction short stories. Each story introduces a different character with a new dilemma to face. The stories are action filled and fast-paced, yet Roth blends questions of morality and human emotion with these futuristic tales. The world-building is masterful and imaginations will run wild with the new and strange technologies Roth creates. Fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games will doubtless be completely immersed and unable to put this collection down.
Beautifully illustrated by Gordy Wright, Strange but True: 10 of the World’s Greatest Mysteries Explained (Frances Lincoln, £14.99), is a mesmerising non-fiction read by Kathryn Hulick. From sea monsters and UFOs to the Bermuda triangle and real-life Zombies, Hulick beautifully explains and debunks some of our favourite spine-tingling mysteries. Blending storytelling, history, myth and science, this is an intriguing and thought-provoking book – the perfect Christmas read for any budding investigators, and ideal for some winter myth-busting with family and friends.
Written and illustrated by the beloved children’s author RJ Palacio, the graphic novel White Bird (Penguin, £20) is perfect for fans of Wonder and Auggie & Me. White Bird shines a light on life in occupied France during the Second World War, conveying the fear and danger of discovery for Jews in hiding. The scene is set with Julien using FaceTime to ask his Grandmère, Sara, about her life in France. The reader then travels back in time and experiences the memories as Sara retells them. Despite the constant fear of capture, this is a tale of hope and light. It is a touching coming of age story about love, loss and empathy, and a call to action against prejudice and racism. When presented with modern day newspapers, Sara cries “have we learned nothing?”An enjoyable read with a strong and clear message of compassion and kindness.
For a story that will engross any reader, pick up a copy of The Tzar’s Curious Runaways by Scottish author Robin Scott-Elliott (Everything with Words, £8.99). Katinka, Alexei and Nikolai are fleeing the Winter Palace in Imperial Russia. All three were part of the Peter the Great’s Circus of Curiosities, a collection of young people and entertainers with a visible disability. With the Tzar dead, they are all in grave danger and must flee. The Tzar’s Curious Runaways is a magical, heart-warming and gripping adventure novel, which places young people with a disability centre stage. The ideal book to curl up with during the cold, dark winter months. Hannah Sycamore