Books of the Year 2016 brings thrilling break from copycat run

Books of the Year 2016 brings thrilling break from copycat run

YA publishing escapes from grip of big-three authors - top reads for 2016 include original plots and fresh names for your favourites list

Over the past 12 months, young adult publishing mercifully sprang free of the big-three teen series that have been spawning copycat novels at the expense of fresh new ideas for much too long.

This year saw talented new writers like Peter Bunzl dip his toe into YA water, and trusted authors like Frances Hardinge and John Boyne come up with stand-out young adult novels. All in all, 2016 was a very good year for bookworms!

Rail Head

By Philip Reeve

Published by Oxford
ISBN 978 19 274275 9

This space opera is set in a faraway galaxy where planets are connected by thousands of rail tracks. The Great Network carries snake-like trains through space in seconds.

Zen Starling is recruited into a scheme by Raven, a powerful space overlord, who wants to take over the galaxy. Of course. It’s all very exciting stuff, and Philip Reeve’s world-building is superb. Space sagas have been neglected of late in the YA world, and we’re lucky that Reeve has done something to fill that gap. Railhead hurtles through space at top speed – and luckily, there are two more instalments to come.

Read our review here.

The Lie Tree

By Frances Hardinge

Published by Macmillan
ISBN 978 1 4472 6410 1

This thrilling and totally original tale is by a writer who knows the meaning of “quality”. Set in Victorian England when Charles Darwin has made natural science a hot study topic, Frances Hardinge’s gripping plot throws murder, deception, a bit of magic and fossils into a very clever mystery plot. A new novel by Hardinge is always an event, and The Lie Tree is her best one yet.

Read our review here.

Dorothy Must Die

By Danielle Paige

Published by Harper
ISBN 978 0 06 228068 8

Danielle Paige takes a story we thought we knew and turns it on its head. It’s a bit of a trend at the moment for a writer to delve into a “classic”, extract a bit of the story or one of the characters and run with it into pastures new.

Paige extracts Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and comes up with a dystopian fantasy with a surprisingly high body count and thrilling new characters. Dorothy Must Die works well because of Paige’s vivid imagination. Purists might throw their arms up in horror but the rest of us will find much to thrill and entertain.

Read our review here


The Outstanding Brocolli Boy

By Frank Cottrell Boyce

Published by Macmillan
ISBN 978 0 230 7541 5

Frank Cottrell Boyce lightens the book year’s mood with his imaginative saga, a fun romp about a boy who falls in a river and emerges green. There are big changes in your world if you resemble a much maligned vegetable, as lead character Rory Rooney discovers.

Cottrell Boyce’s plot spins off at all angles in this highly entertaining read; you can be sure you’ll never look at broccoli the same way again.

Read our review here.


By Peter Bunzl

Published by Usborne

ISBN 978 1474915 007

There are some very well established writers on our list, and newcomer Peter Bunzl will soon be up there with the best if he keeps up the originality he shows in his debut novel Cogheart. Confident and inventive storytelling like this from a new author doesn’t come along very often and Bunzl has created a world and characters that grip and dazzle.

Professor Hartmann is an inventor who has created a perpetual motion machine that will solve all the problems faced by the new industries of Victorian England. When he is kidnapped, can his daughter stop villains getting their hands on his invention for their own nefarious ends?

Read our review here

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain

By John Boyne

Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978 0 857 53452 1

This thrilling second world war story comes from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ John Boyne. A series of events take young Pierrot to live with his aunt in a mansion on top of a mountain in Bavaria. The owner of the house is Adolf Hitler, and soon Pierrot falls under the spell of the political leader.

Boyne is a great storyteller who doesn’t go in for easy stories or neat endings just because he’s writing for young people. This is another instant classic.

Read our review here.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Six must-reads of 2016


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