YA book reviews: the best books for teens this autumn

The Black Flamingo
The Black Flamingo
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If you have ever done an online quiz to discover which ice cream sundae, vegetable or Disney character best reflects your personality, then What Kind of Quiz Book are You? by Rachel McMahon is the book for you. Rachel is the genius quiz master behind many of BuzzFeed’s most popular quizzes, and has superbly converted her online quizzes into an entertaining quiz book. What Kind of Quiz Book are You? is perfect for evenings when you fancy a good giggle with your family or friends, and the conversations it will generate are just as good, if not better, than the quizzes themselves.

Crossfire, the thrilling next instalment in the acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman, will have any reader hooked. Years have passed since the love story between Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a Nought), and now we meet the next generation: Tobey, Libby, Callie and Troy. Their stories intertwine in a world of forbidden love, politics and racism. This is an incredibly pertinent novel that speaks volumes in the current political climate. Troy and Libby are trapped at the mercy of a world they don’t understand, and with the rise of Noughts Forever, it has never been more dangerous to be a Cross…


Ghost is a collection of spine-tingling tales from the members of Illustratus, a collective of authors, poets and illustrators. The scene is set with Thomas and Skeeter trekking through a dense, dark marsh to Old Man Blackwood’s cabin, to hear 13 true ghost stories. As they get up to leave, however, Thomas realises they have only heard twelve stories… and in the final, 13th story the collection comes to a thrilling and unexpected end. This is a wonderfully chilling collection, and the beautiful illustrations perfectly complement the ghoulish storytelling.


Fiercely told in narrative verse The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta is a deeply moving story of love, self-belief and identity. It is a wonderfully honest and moving read – perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Sarah Crossan. Told through beautifully constructed poetry, this is the coming of age story of Michael, a mixed-race gay teen. Readers will be completely absorbed by Michael’s personal journey, and will laugh, cry and cheer for him as he casts aside his old feathers, and transforms into what he was always meant to be: The Black Flamingo.


An equally moving YA debut, The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton is the heart-wrenching story of a British-Pakistani teen coming to terms with her identity, mental health and relationships. Neena’s brother has disappeared, and she struggles to understand and accept the reality of life without him. This novel thoughtfully and sensitively portrays a teenage experience of psychosis, a mental illness rarely written about. A masterful piece of storytelling.


A House Without Walls by Elizabeth Laird presents a completely different teenage experience, that of refugee Safiya. Safiya’s family are forced to flee Damascus and take refuge with a distant cousin in Jordan. Family tensions soon surface, and they find themselves in a tent with winter fast approaching. Safiya finds herself without a home, without education and completely adrift. This novel perfectly intertwines feminism, the refugee crisis and teenage life. The story ends with both hope and uncertainly for Safiya’s future, and poignantly reflects the harsh reality of so many young women across the world.  Hannah Sycamore