Here’s a look at some of our favourite teenage fiction which has been released over the last three months. These would be great additions to a school library or just for reading at home. If any local schools would like to purchase any of these items, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
Phantom by Leo Hunt
Bursting with vividly imagined technology, secrets upon secrets and ambiguous characters, Phantom is a thrilling dystopian novel which is hard to put down. The main character is Nova, an orphan living in the bottom levels of city in a world which has been poisoned and where the water is toxic. Nova ascertains early on that ‘You don’t get people calling you Nova by being dull’ and this is certainly true, within the first few chapters you see her jump off a bridge into the path of a train to evade capture and take on a spying mission in the biggest corporation for the enigmatic Moth.
The world building is inventive and often intense; Hunt has created a bleak world with a staggering class divide and level of corruption. It has a dystopian Oliver Twist feel to it with Nova working for a man named Patches, a man who has rescued orphan children so that they can steal for him. To steal money in a dystopian world where all money is digital, you need to be a good hacker and have Phantom, a programme which covers your tracks and leaves you untraceable.
The story never goes where you would expect it to, and as the layers of the world seem to unravel, you start to see just how much trouble Nova has got herself into. This is certain to appeal to any teenagers who love technology and coding but also who enjoy a fast-paced plot with plenty of mysteries to be uncovered.
And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness
A compelling and complex nod to the infamous Moby Dick, Patrick Ness’ latest offering is nothing short of impressive. Told mainly from the perspective of hunting whale Bathsheba, the story cleverly describes the whale pods as though they are ships, with a captain at the helm and with humans for prey. Having been warned of the returning whale-killer Toby Wick, the pod seek vengeance on the mythical monster with a human hostage in tow.
The story is illustrated throughout by the wonderful Rovina Cai. Perfectly capturing the energy of Ness’ words, the illustrations are mainly in black and white, but with streaks of bright colours to emphasise moments of danger or destruction. This perfect medley of words and images adds to the feelings of depth and despair evoked throughout the tale.
For the whales their sky is the ocean, the air below an “abyss”. Ness describes this wonderfully, drawing our attention to the fact that although we might be in opposite worlds, war is ignited by both whale and human. In the end we are forced to question, when it comes to war and its fatal consequences, who is to blame? And can we really call out monsters, when it is in fact war that facilitates such monstrous behaviour? This book is a true masterpiece that asks questions about the human condition, through a beautiful tale of whale-kind.
Are we all Lemmings & Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne
Holly Bourne has created a timely and significant novel which boldly and effectively raises mental health awareness. Not shying away from tough subjects, the story focuses on 16-year-old Olive after a depressive episode left her standing at the edge of a cliff and it follows her time in Camp Reset; a summer programme for teenagers with varying mental health issues. Olive is desperate to get better as she feels like she is always letting the people in her life, especially her parents, down. As Olive spends more time in the programme, we see her desperation to become better shift from her ongoing sessions to a belief that there is an algorithm to mental health which will be the answer to all her problems.
Bourne writes in a way that conveys the seriousness of the topic but also manages to add in so much humour and warmth to the story. This is seen especially in Olive’s relationship with her parents and their support and hope for her to be happy seem to shine through all their interactions. It is also novel which feels so honest, to the extent that at times it can be hard to read. There are quite graphic accounts of the other teenagers’ trauma and you also slowly start to see Olive spiral into a manic episode and the help doesn’t seem to be coming fast enough.
Ultimately this novel gives the reader a realistic portrayal of mental health and explores it within the context of modern teenage life. It is a novel with a strong message at its core: we must look upon other people with kindness, but we must be kind to ourselves first.
Here are an extra few new and notable teenage books which we wanted to highlight from the last three months.
All book images have been taken from Amazon.
Written by Jodie and Tiff