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"Reviews of a roundup of young adult books."

“Reviews of a roundup of young adult books.”


The popularity of the Heartstopper series has led to a surge in the production of graphic novels. In “Cross My Heart and Never Lie” by Nora Dåsnes (published by Farshore and translated from Norwegian by Matt Bagguley), everything changes for Tuva when she enters seventh grade. Her friends have split into two rival groups – those who are in love and those who are still playing around. With the arrival of a new girl, Mariam, Tuva’s feelings become confusing. This book presents a heartwarming and refreshing perspective on friendship and first loves, captured in a colorful diary format while also reflecting the struggles of adolescence.

The focus of Northern Soul by Phil Earle (Barrington Stoke) is first love, with a nod to Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books. 14-year-old Marv’s world revolves around football and his friends, until a cool new girl named Carly enters the scene. With the help of the ghost of Otis Redding, Marv’s attempts to win over his crush are both sweet and cringe-worthy, accurately portraying the pain and awkwardness of unrequited love.

Sarah Crossan, winner of the Carnegie medal, has written a new verse novel entitled Where the Heart Should Be (Bloomsbury). The story takes place during the Irish famine in 1846 and follows Nell, a scullery maid at the “Big House”. While she works for her English employers who are well-fed, starvation and disease ravage the rest of the country. Amidst the tragedy, Nell and the English heir, Johnny, develop a forbidden love. Crossan’s concise writing packs a powerful emotional punch in this captivating novel.

Nora’s friend Becca suddenly goes missing, along with three other townspeople, in Melissa Albert’s The Bad Ones (Penguin). Becca had left behind cryptic clues that suggest the disappearances may be linked to a game from their childhood, centered around a local myth. As the mystery unravels, the eerie supernatural elements ramp up the tension, but it’s the complex relationship between Nora and Becca that will truly grip readers.

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Sade, a new student at an elite boarding school, uncovers hidden secrets after her roommate disappears in Faridah Àbíké-Íyímidé’s novel Where Sleeping Girls Lie (published by Usborne). Despite an unlikely explanation, Sade takes it upon herself to discover the truth while also navigating the school’s complex social hierarchy and her own personal struggles with grief and trauma. Clocking in at nearly 600 pages with a plethora of characters, the story may seem sprawling, but the gradual unraveling of the mystery, tinged with a palpable sense of danger, makes it a rewarding read.

The concept of “romantasy” has become extremely popular in the young adult fiction genre, thanks in part to the success of authors like Sarah J Maas and the influence of TikTok. The initial installment of the trilogy, Compass and Blade (Harper Fire) by Rachel Greenlaw, takes place in a fantastical version of the Isles of Scilly. As her father faces the death penalty, Mira sets off from her home island to fulfill her fate and discover a way to save him. The book paints a vivid picture of a world filled with treacherous sea storms, dangerous pirates, and enchanting sirens, as Mira experiences thrilling adventures, dabbles in dark magic, and grapples with deceit and forbidden love.

Source: theguardian.com