Epic space adventures, intriguing thrillers, and feel-good coming-of-age stories. These are the must-read YA books of the month.

by |September 7, 2017

What an amazing month for YA fiction!

Sarah J. Maas returns with the sixth instalment in her Throne of Glass series, Tower of Dawn. Read our interview with Sarah, where she reveals where her love of folklore and fantasy originated from. She even reveals who her favourite authors were growing up (Garth Nix may possibly be on her list!).

E. Lockhart also returns with Genuine Fraud, her first book since her blockbuster We Were Liars. And award-winning Australian authors authors Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood collaborate on a coming-of-age story that all teenage girls must make time to read. We chatted with these authors about what it was like writing three separate characters! Read their responses here.

Scroll down to read what Sarah McDuling and Tanaya Lowden had to say about the YA books of September. Happy reading!

Reviews by Sarah McDuling

Beautiful Mess
by Claire Christian

Oh my gosh and wow. This book definitely gave me lots of feelings.

It’s a rare thing to find a book that is able to give you both intense emotional depth as well as a bunch of joyful LOLs. Beautiful Mess not only walks that fine line between drama and humour, it dances and twirls through the full gamut of human emotions, dealing with serious issues such as grief, depression and anxiety with both sensitivity and raw honesty.

First and foremost, this is a book about friendship and love. Ava is struggling with depression after a tragic loss. Gideon is crippled by debilitating anxiety. When these two meet they strike up an unlikely friendship that deepens into something more. And then … just be prepared for heartbreak. And laughs. And awkwardness. And joy. Ava and Gideon’s story grabbed me by the heartstrings and played merry havoc with my soul!

This bittersweet and tender story is guaranteed to capture hearts and minds. I shall be placing it on my shelf alongside Looking for Alibrandi and Six Impossible Things. A pitch-perfect read with lovable characters, heartfelt emotion and a poignant message, Beautiful Mess is one of my new favourites! Learn more.

by Annie Barrows

Nothing is a charming and clever book about friendship and coming of age, from the author of The Truth According to Us and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The banter in this book is STRONG. The friendship between main characters Frankie and Charlotte has a solid foundation in witty quips and biting sarcasm. It’s funny and smart and feels very genuine and true-to-life.

Charlotte and Frankie believe that their lives are boring and that nothing exciting ever happens to them – unlike the characters they read about in YA books. And they are correct! Charlotte and Frankie lead pretty normal lives… but does being ‘normal’ make you boring?

This is a book about friendship and growing up. It’s about wanting more than you have, and learning to value what you’ve got. It’s about deciding who you want to be and then figuring out how to make it happen. It’s not a very plot-driven book. In fact, nothing much really happens to Frankie and Charlotte. Fortunately Annie Barrows is able to prove just how endearing, entertaining and amusing ‘nothing’ can be!

Nothing is a quick, light read which sparkles with humour and has a lot of heart. I really enjoyed it and hope that Annie Barrows plans to write more contemporary YA because having devoured this one, I will gladly gobble up more of the same! Learn more.

by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia gave me everything I wanted and more. This is one heck of a fast-paced and addictive read – so much so I found it virtually impossible to put down!

Eden is a newly discovered planet, rich in a highly valuable substance called Nyxia. Obviously, the human race (more specifically, a company called Babel Communications) is bent on colonising the planet and mining the substance. The only problem? The planet is already inhabited by an alien race.

The alien race happens to be very protective of children and so a plan is devised. Babel Communications will send a group of children to the new planet! They will be chosen from all over the world and will compete against each other for the chance to go to Eden.

Our main character, Emmet, is part of a diverse cast of characters thrown together in a spaceship and subjected to a rigorous training program as they journey towards the mysterious planet of Eden. There is a bit of a Hunger Games vibe, given the kids are in a high stakes competition against each other. Only eight of the ten chosen will make it to Eden… thus earning a chance to make big money and change their lives.

And yet, can Babel Communications be trusted? Does the company have a hidden agenda? As the children fight for their chance to get to Eden, they will be forced to discover exactly what they are willing to do in order to win.

An action-packed, high-octane thriller with lots of twists and turns, Nyxia is guaranteed to please fans of Ender’s Game, The Illuminae Files and pretty much any fast-paced adventure in space. Learn more.

Reviews by Tanaya Lowden

Genuine Fraud
by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart returns with her first novel since We Were Liars, the book that took the YA world by storm. Genuine Fraud is another highly character-driven and intriguing thriller that will have you questioning what exactly is happening.

In Genuine Fraud, we follow the friendship of Imogen and Jule and the dark turn it takes, leading them down a path of disappearances and murder. One of the most interesting things about this book is that it is told in reverse, a reading experience that heightens the tension of this thriller.

This is one of those books where chances are you are going to hate all of the characters. They are not likeable people, but they don’t need to be likeable to be interesting. From the very first page I was hooked and intrigued as to how these characters became who they were. As the mystery unfolded, I found myself feeling tense with anticipation as we discover just how far some of the characters are willing to go.

Genuine Fraud is intriguing and full of twists, and definitely a must-read if you loved We Were Liars. Learn more.

They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera

I’ve never read a book by Adam Silvera before, and after finishing this one, I can’t believe it took me so long to do so. Silvera’s writing is mesmerising and full of emotion. His characters are a breath of fresh air and feel incredibly real and relatable. Even though you know how the book is going to end, you still feel devastated at its conclusion.

They Both Die at the End follows two teenage boys, Mateo and Rufus. After receiving phone calls in the early hours of the morning informing them that today is the day they will die, the two meet through an app and become each other’s last friends, spending their final day living life to the full.

I simply adored the characters. Mateo’s character development from an anxious and introverted teenager too scared to participate in life was beautifully executed. Rufus and his heartbreaking backstory had me in tears. And together, their shared friendship was lovely and realistic. I finished this book in tears, feeling like they deserved more.

This book has an amazing, albeit heartbreaking concept – how would you spend your final day knowing you’ll be dead within 24 hours? I loved that this allowed for a story of personal growth, and in a twisted way, was the fascinating coming-of-age story we all love to read.

They Both Die at the End is an emotional ride, but well worth it. A must-read for any fan of YA contemporaries. Learn more.

Take Three Girls
by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood

Take Three Girls is an honest and unflinchingly real depiction of teenage girls in the technology-savvy society of today. It deals with themes of cyber-bullying, friendship, body image, sexuality, and generally about the pressures that teenage girls face on a day-to-day basis. It is a genuinely Australian coming-of-age story that is beautifully written and highly relatable!

When a Year 10 Wellness program is established at St Hilda’s, Kate, Ady and Clem are unexpectedly brought together as a group. Coming from different social circles and facing differing challenges, the girls don’t expect to become friends. But one thing they all have in common is being targeted by PSST, a site devoted to gossip and slander. And so a friendship is born.

This book, if nothing else, is empowering. It deals with both body and slut shaming, and our three protagonists unite to stand against this despicable behaviour. Our protagonists look out for each other and support one another, and I loved that. Every teenage girl should read this book, if only to know that they are not alone when dealing with societal pressures.

Take Three Girls is an outstanding, relatable read, and Australian YA Fiction at its finest. A must read! Learn more.

Award-winning authors Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood answer Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions. Read them here.

Wonder Woman Warbringer
by Leigh Bardugo

Kicking off the first of the DC Icons series, Wonder Woman Warbringer is a fast-paced and action-packed novel from one of the biggest names in YA.

Leigh Bardugo is one of my favourite authors, and I love how easy it is to get captivated by her writing. Her words flow across the page, and she is incredibly talented at writing interesting, strong and fun characters. This was no different in Wonder Woman Warbringer, which featured a diverse cast of characters that I loved.

My favourite thing about this book was the friendships, and how Diana (Wonder Woman) wasn’t the only character that mattered. The theme of female empowerment shone through, with strong female friendships and girls sticking up for one another taking prominence. I also enjoyed that the romance was not the major focus, allowing the strong theme of friendship to shine brightly.

With the incredible success and popularity of the Wonder Woman film earlier this year, this is the perfect book for fans of the movie. This is not the same story as the film, nor is it a continuation, so you won’t be confused if you haven’t seen it. This is a must read for superhero fans, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the books in the DC Icons series pan out! Learn more.


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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


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