After reading what felt like hundreds of samplers at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) this year, only a pretty small number have got me excited and waiting eagerly for their release. Here’s a list of the five books I would now be willing to kill (or at least maim) to get my hands on now.
FIRELINES by Cara Thurlbourn
Release date September 2017
Synopsis After her father disappears in search of the lands beyond the wall, Émi is banished to the Red Quarter where she must work hard to suppress her feelings about the brutal injustice served by the Cadets in order to support her mother and keep them both safe. When Émi accidentally puts on a very public display of her newly discovered magickal talent, she is forced to run and hide beyond the wall in the Four Cities where mysteries, truth and destiny await her.
Why I’m looking forward to it I love the idea of the class structure. There are four quarters (well, duh!) in the City of Nhatu: Gold, Silver, Green and Red. Everyone wears a band to identify themselves and the most powerful citizens live in the Gold Quarter in luxury while the Red Quarter is filled with squalor akin to Medieval England. I think the world has just the right balance of otherness and recognisability; I can’t wait to find out more about the other cities, especially after taking a look at Cara’s Pinterest boards!
I really like Cara Thurlbourn’s writing style; it’s easy to read and natural. YALC is a pretty busy weekend and it’s hard to stay awake to read the samplers after a long day but this one had me hooked until the end. I’m pretty intrigued about how Émi and Tsam’s relationship is going to work out. Tsam is an old family friend who seems to know more than he is letting on and it looks like he’s going to be running away with Émi from the sampler. Pretty sure there’s a romance brewing but things never go well for this kind of heroine so I don’t expect a smooth ride!
GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart
Release date September 2017
Synopsis Jule West Williams is strong, a good fighter, and she has a talent for disguise. And she’s had a pretty incredible year. Genuine Fraud is the story of that year, told from Jule’s point of view.
Why I’m looking forward to it Not much of a synopsis, eh? It’s all very mysterious and I honestly cannot guess where Lockhart is going to go with this. The narrative in the extract moves at an astonishing pace, reminiscent of a crime thriller and it feels like we’re hearing the story of a fugitive on the run (very John Grisham). But is that going to be the story? I really don’t know, everyone is keeping the plot quiet so this thriller will truly thrill in September.
The story starts on Chapter 18 with a note from Jule herself to ‘Start here’. Jule then works backwards in time until all the details of the past year are revealed to the reader. I love books like this that keep you guessing with surprising plot twists or shocking reveals (and we all know there will be some if Lockhart is involved). Thank god it’s not too long until release day!
FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C Dao
Release date October 2017
Synopsis Xifeng is 18 and she’s a stunner. She loves Wei but her evil aunt (and part time witch), Guma, has read the stars and let Xifeng know that her fate lies at the Emperor’s side in the Palace. But to escape her poverty and unhappy life, Xifeng must make sacrifices and satisfy the desires of the god that guides her path (that even Guma fears). Will the Xifeng that sits the throne be the same, sweet girl she was at the start of her journey?
Why I’m looking forward to it Come on. It’s an anti-heroine story – Villain Origins: Evil Queen. Come on. Who wouldn’t be excited about this? Dao has created a rich and enticing world that shone through, even in only the first few chapters. The Eastern setting gives the story added interest and magical qualities, and I have a feeling that we are in for a dark, vicious, no-holds barred twist on a fairy tale that I am already hoping will be made into a film.
LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds
Release date October 2017
Synopsis Will’s brother is shot by gang members and he knows there is only one acceptable way to deal with it. Revenge. So he follows the rules of the street to do just that, taking his dead brother’s gun with him. When a series of long dead gang crime victims begin joining Will in the lift on the way to get his revenge, he begins to question the rules.
Why I’m looking forward to it I tend to steer away from poetry and free verse as I usually find it pretty hard to connect with, but Jason Reynolds totally blew me away. This is a hard hitting and heart breaking view of gang crime in America that I’m not sure I have the words to describe. I just want everyone to read it. I want to watch people read it. I want to watch them feel the lines that I have felt. And then we can just look at each other knowingly.
A couple of extracts for you:
“…if the blood
Inside you is on the inside
of someone else
you never want to
see it on the outside of
“[the sadness] is the constant slipping
of your tongue
into the new empty space,
where you know
a tooth is supposed to be
but ain’t no more”
*looks at you knowingly*
FLOORED by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood
Release date July 2018
Synopsis Six apparently incompatible teenagers’ lives collide in a lift at the BBC in Manchester during Work Experience week. What happens in that lift changes is so life-affecting that they decide to meet up on the same day every year in commemoration.
Why I’m looking forward to it I almost left this one off the list – with all these authors involved, I’m pretty sure every person on the planet is going to get hit by the publication train for Floored but it was better than I thought it would be. I was worried it would be too commercial for me, and there is an element of that going on in the appearance of a character from every walk of life, but the concept of the seven different writers and “every day told seven ways” really does work. And what happens in the lift (no spoilers!) makes for a much more interesting and less superficial premise than could have been chosen. It’s going to be a long wait for this one.