This month there were four Young Adult Fiction reads that really blew my mind. In Save the Date I discovered my new favourite Morgan Matson book and Floored is a very addictive collaborative book best described as The Breakfast Club meets One Day. Meanwhile, Hive is a stunning dystopian novel from Australian author A. J. Betts and All These Beautiful Strangers is a compelling mystery that kept me guessing right till the end.
Read on for my reviews of the best Young Adult reads of July 2018!
I’ve always enjoyed Morgan Matson’s books, but I wasn’t even halfway through Save the Date when I was ready to declare it as her best book yet. Now that I have finished reading it I can confirm – this is my favourite Morgan Matson book ever.
Save the Date follows Charlie, the youngest of five siblings and the only one still living at home. On the weekend of her sister’s wedding, Charlie is ecstatic to finally have all her siblings back in the one house and to spend the quality time with them that she cherishes and misses. But things don’t quite go according to plan, with wedding drama, family feuds, and boy and friend issues interrupting the weekend.
There’s something about Morgan Matson’s books that are always fantastic. They’re the epitome of everything I want in a YA contemporary, making her one of the standout authors of this YA sub-genre. Save the Date was no different, packed with excellent characters, an exciting and chaotic plot, and humorous writing.
This book was like watching a romcom movie. Matson’s writing was so vivid creating such strong imagery in my mind that I almost feel like I did watch a movie as opposed to reading a book. Whilst there have been a lot of wedding stories, particularly in the romcom genre, Matson managed to bring a refreshing take to the “everything that could go wrong will go wrong with a wedding” storyline, and I enjoyed every minute.
My favourite part about this book was definitely its characters and in particular I loved the strong family dynamic. Charlie and her siblings had such great relationships with one another and Matson did such an excellent job of portraying them that I almost felt like I was a part of their family. They are the reason this book was unputdownable, because I didn’t want to stop reading about this fictional family.
Save the Date is the perfect YA contemporary. It’s funny, adorable, and enjoyable, and a definite must read. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenn Bennett and Jenny Han.
Floored is a book with one of the coolest concepts I’ve ever read. It’s a collaboration novel written by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors, and whilst I’ve read books by multiple authors before, I’ve never read a book with seven different authors that wasn’t an anthology.
Dubbed as The Breakfast Club meets One Day, Floored follows six strangers who end up in the same lift together. They’re all in the lift for different reasons, but none of them ever expect to see each other again … until one more person enters the lift and becomes the one responsible for bringing them together again on the same day every year.
With seven different authors controlling the flow of this story, I was dubious at first as to how well it would work out. My reservations were misplaced because all the perspectives worked with perfect cohesion. I haven’t actually read any of these authors’ previous works (I will definitely be changing this now) so could take no guesses as to which author wrote which character, but each viewpoint managed to have a distinctive voice whilst sharing similarities in their writing styles and humour.
I also really liked how the book taking place on the same day over five years allowed for some interesting dynamics I’ve not read much in other YA books. For instance, the group dynamic is played with exploring the different relationships within the group, and the impact on the group from when things don’t go so well between these individual relationships.
I also really liked how throughout the five years, each character had their ups and downs and they weren’t all at the same time as the other characters. It felt incredibly realistic for one character to be having the worst time in one year but to then be at a peak the following year whilst another character was in a reverse situation. The format for this book allowed this to shine and feel incredibly relatable, and the authors did an excellent job of demonstrating this.
Perhaps what I liked the most about this book is the idea that this could happen to anyone. This unlikely group of friends started by a shared experience, and through the wonders of social media they stayed in contact for five years and became each other’s best friends even though they only physically met each other once a year.
The authors did a wonderful job at pulling this book off, and I would definitely be interested in reading more books that followed a similar style.
The first in a two book series, Hive is a captivating and intriguing new dystopian from Australian author A.J. Betts.
Set in a carefully contained world with strict rules and processes, Hive explores the power of curiosity. When Hayley discovers the impossible, a drip from the ceiling, she thinks she’s going mad… or perhaps there’s more to her world than she ever knew before. What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.
The world in this book is one of the most interesting and unique I’ve uncovered in YA dystopian fiction. Betts has crafted a vivid world, equally eerie and atmospheric, and this hive-like society was brought to life with so much detail. Everything is controlled from food choices to jobs, births to marriages, and everyone in the community has a role to play to ensure they’re doing their part to sustain the community lifestyle.
Whilst a lot of time is spent developing this unsettling world, Betts achieved this in such a beautiful way, trickling the details thought the entire book and never overwhelming the reader and because of this, the world-building is one of the standouts in this novel.
I went into this book not knowing all that much about it, but it captivated me so quickly that I ended up reading it in one sitting. I did not want to put this book down. As Hayley’s curiosity grew, so did mine, and the answers were well worth it.
Ending on somewhat of a cliffhanger, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the sequel to see how the story continues!
Perfect for fans of The Giver.
If the gorgeous cover alone isn’t enough to make you want to read this, let me tell you that All These Beautiful Strangers is an excellent debut novel. I was enchanted by this YA mystery and completely satisfied by its twisting plot.
This is quite the layered story, with so many different elements going on. It’s in part a story of the pressures of growing up and in others a mystery. Put simply, All These Beautiful Strangers follows Charlie, daughter to the real estate mogul Alistair Calloway. When she was seven her mother, Grace, disappeared. At the time there was speculation her father had killed her, but all the clues seemed to hint that Grace had just abandoned her family.
Flash forward ten years and the mystery of her mother still haunts Charlie. When she gets invited to join the elite secret society at her prestigious boarding school, Charlie never expects that in doing so she would get closer to uncovering the terrible truth of her family’s past.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved reading books about rich teenagers attending prestigious schools. From Gossip Girl to Pretty Little Liars, I’ve read them all. Perhaps it was the similarities to these books that initially drew me to All These Beautiful Strangers, however, I soon found myself thoroughly addicted. Whilst I enjoyed the storyline of Charlie’s initiation into the school’s elite secret society, it wasn’t until she started exploring the mystery that the book became a real page-turner. I was hooked by this story, utterly compelled with its atmospheric vibe and twisty plot turns.
I really loved the way this book was told. I went into it expecting to just have Charlie’s perspective, slowly uncovering the truth as time passed. Instead, Charlie’s perspective is complemented with flashback chapters from both her mother and father, acting as bridges between past and present, lies and truth. Having the narrative told in this way allowed for the story to come across with a sense of maturity and showcased Klehfoth’s masterful and compelling writing.
I rather adored All These Beautiful Strangers, and it is easily the kind of book that could easily captivate both adults and teenagers. This is definitely the book for fans of We Were Liars, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and One of Us is Lying.
About the Contributor
Tanaya has been a lover of books for as long as she can remember. Now, her book collection is a little out of control, mostly consisting of YA fiction and pretty hardcovers. When she’s not reading, she spends a lot of her time taking photos of books for her bookstagram account, @prettypagesblog. She also has a love of Disneyland, bullet journaling and cats.
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