The YA Book Prize: Shortlist

Posted on 23rd March 2016 by Darran Stobbart
Bookseller Darran Stobbart runs through the YA Book Prize shortlist - and what a shortlist it is...

Last year, industry magazine The Bookseller launched the very first national book prize solely for the love and praise of Young Adult novels from the UK and Ireland. The YA Book Prize was incredibly well received, both within the book industry and by the wider UKYA community as well, championing some wonderfully talented writers who aim at tackling some powerful issues affecting young people through superbly written stories.

The first winner, Louise O'Neill's feminist dystopia Only Ever Yours, is a powerful statement on society seen through the lens of a totalitarian landscape, and the prize sent sales of the darkly addictive novel through the roof, proving the power of YA literature.

This year sees the prize return for its second year, with a shortlist of such staggering talent and ability, boasting a Costa Award Winner, a Waterstones Children's Book Prize category winner, a Carnegie Medal Winner, and yes – even the only other YA Book Prize Winner herself.

Let's take a quick look now...


Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne’s third novel, and the start of her first ongoing series, examines what it means to live as a teenager with a mental illness. Brilliantly honest and piercingly funny, it looks at friendship and love in an a bright, engaging way that resonates deeply with the reader.


One by Sarah Crossan

The tale of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi, One is a beautifully told story written in broken stanzas of poetry as opposed to normal prose, giving it a lyrical and emotionally articulate feel. It’s one of the most unique YA books in years, and reading it is like reading a work of art.


Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

A novel of so many parts, all blended together perfectly and smoothly, Unbecoming tells the tales of three generations of women, each battling to understand the world around them, and their own pasts. Downham manages to craft an epic story that feels so familiar, weaving multiple plots into one beautiful tapestry of words.


The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year, The Lie Tree showcases Hardinge’s masterful storytelling perfectly. Part windswept historical tragedy, and part unsettling, creeping fantasy, it’s truly an intelligent and whirring storm of a novel.


The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson

Based on the real story of Mary Willcocks, who in the early 1800s escaped poverty by pretending to a wealthy family that she was an exotic princess from a far off land, this is a beautiful, bitter-sweet story of hope and passion.


The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

One of the biggest names in YA, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the latest Ness novel, and it contains huge amounts of his trademark wit and warmth, poking fun at the usual traditions of Young Adult novels with great love, and touching on the pains of growing up beautifully.


Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Last year’s winner returns with a book impossibly even closer to the bone than her début. Asking For It unflinchingly examines rape culture and victim blaming with a stark, angry voice that demands the reader’s attention and calls for action against the way society views sexual abuse.


The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Taking the familiar “princess in the tower” story and injecting it with a dark, claustrophobic sense of unease, Melina Salisbury’s first novel is a twisting fantasy that delivers superb character arcs and a captivating plot, set in a beautifully realised world filled with creeping power and sinister intentions.


Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe

A highly driven thriller that uses a fictional ADD drug to look at how society labels young people and tries to brush under the carpet those that it feels are too difficult to deal with. Filled with anger and frustration, it’s a book that feels uncomfortably close to the world we live in already.


The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Winner of the Older Readers category in 2016 Waterstones’ Children’s Book Prize, The Art of Being Normal is a brilliantly uplifting novel that examines gender identity and celebrates love and life in buckets. It’s beautifully written, with vibrant, wonderful characters who quickly begin to feel like old friends.


And that’s our list! Pretty great, non? Thanks for Reading.

Have any thoughts on who should win? Let us know in the comments!

Over the next few weeks, Darran, will be looking at each title in a little more detail with the help of blogger  Kate Neilan.



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