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Your Favourite Oz YA of 2019

  • 17 December, 2019
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With a smorgasbord of graphic novels, short story anthologies, exciting new series, poignant realism and everything in between, 2019 has been a BUMPER year for Aussie YA with books to suit all tastes and expand our horizons! With so many stories to discover, we wanted to know: what have been your favourite Australian YA reads of 2019?

And what a list you gave us, with a few releases from previous years thrown in for good measure! We’ve showcased your choices below, listing them alphabetically by title with 2019 new releases in the first block and earlier titles in the second.

If you’re on the hunt for last-minute gift ideas or a great summer read, the Oz YA community has you sorted!

2019 Releases

All That impossible Space by Anna Morgan book cover

All That Impossible Space

by Anna Morgan
Hachette Aus

15-year-old Lara Laylor feels like supporting character in her own life. She’s Ashley’s best friend, she’s Hannah’s sister–she’s never just Lara.

When new history teacher Mr. Grant gives her an unusual assignment: investigating the mystery of the Somerton Man. Found dead in on an Adelaide beach in 1948, a half-smoked cigarette still in his mouth and the labels cut out of his clothes, the Somerton Man has intrigued people for years. Was he a spy? A criminal? Year 10 has plenty of mysteries of its own: boys, drama queen friends, and enigmatic new students. When they seem just as unsolvable as a 60-year-old cold case, Lara finds herself spending more and more time on the assignment. But Mr Grant himself may be the biggest mystery of all…

Interspersed with fictionalised snapshots of the Somerton Man investigation, ALL THAT IMPOSSIBLE SPACE is a coming of age novel exploring toxic friendships and the balance of power between teacher and student, perfect for fans of Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood.

Find out more.

Aurora Rising book 1 The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Book Cover

Aurora Rising (Book 1, The Aurora Cycle)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Allen & Unwin

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of The Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic . . .The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch:

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech-whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering.

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

Find out more.

Everywhere Everything Everyone by Katy Warner book cover

Everywhere, Everything, Everyone

by Katy Warner
Hardie Grant Egmont

A vivid, captivating contemporary YA novel about the power of resistance, from a stunning Australian debut author. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Z for Zachariah.

Even though she lives on the wrong side of town, 16-year-old Santee believes her world is like ours: that running late for curfew will only get you grounded, and that the government tries to keep its good citizens safe and secure. Until one night, everything changes.

On her way home from school, Santee takes a detour to the outskirts of town with a boy that she likes – and then finds herself stranded overnight when his car breaks down. When she’s finally able to get a lift towards home the next morning, Santee discovers that everything has changed. A ‘safety border’ – a wall – has gone up around her part of town, imprisoning her family and trapping her on the outside…

With its subtle familiarity and a tender, defiant teen romance at its core,Katy Warner’s powerful debut novel is about the importance of hope and standing up for what you believe in.

From small cracks, big cracks grow.

Find out more.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte book cover

Four Dead Queens

by Astrid Scholte
Allen & Unwin

Four Queens. A divided nation. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington is one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves, but when she steals an unexpectedly valuable package from a messenger she is soon entangled in a conspiracy that leads to all four of Quadara’s queens being murdered.

With no other choices and on the run from her former employer, Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, and together they race to discover who has killed the queens. But when dark secrets threaten their reluctant partnership and put everything at stake, Keralie and Varin must use all their daring to stay alive and untangle the mysteries behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

Find out more.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man by Tom Taylor

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man Vol. 1

by Tom Taylor
Hachette Aus.

Spider-Man is the worst neighbor EVER! There are always crazy villains and property damage and drama and…and he CATCHES the villains. And he tries to fix the damage and he helps carry your groceries and actually that property damage keeps the rents down. You know what? Spider-Man is the best neighbor ever and this book will give you a closer look at Spider-Man’s (and Peter Parker’s) neighborhood than any book ever. Also, it wouldn’t be a Spider-Man adventure without a threat that could destroy not only Spider-Man, but all his neighbors. Superstar writer TOM TAYLOR (X-MEN RED, ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, Injustice) and rising art star JUANN CABAL (ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, X-23) give you the most local Spider-Man ever! C

Find out more.

Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller book cover

Ghost Bird

by Lisa Fuller
UQP

Remember daughter, the world is a lot bigger than anyone knows. There are things that science may never explain. Maybe some things that shouldn’t be explained.

Stacey and Laney are twins – mirror images of each other – and yet they’re as different as the sun and the moon. Stacey works hard at school, determined to get out of their small town. Laney skips school and sneaks out of the house to meet her boyfriend. But when Laney disappears one night, Stacey can’t believe she’s just run off without telling her.

As the days pass and Laney doesn’t return, Stacey starts dreaming of her twin. The dreams are dark and terrifying, difficult to understand and hard to shake, but at least they tell Stacey one key thing – Laney is alive. It’s hard for Stacey to know what’s real and what’s imagined and even harder to know who to trust. All she knows for sure is that Laney needs her help.

Stacey is the only one who can find her sister. Will she find her in time?

Find out more.

Highway Bodies by Alison Evans book cover

Highway Bodies

by Alison Evans
Allen & Unwin

Bodies on the TV, explosions, barriers, and people fleeing. No access to social media. And a dad who’ll suddenly bite your head off – literally. These teens have to learn a new resilience…

Members of a band wield weapons instead of instruments.

A pair of siblings find there’s only so much you can joke about, when the menace is this strong.

And a couple find depth among the chaos.

Highway Bodies is a unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other.

Find out more.

How it feels to float by helena fox book cover

How it Feels to Float

by Helena Fox
Pan Macmillan Aus.

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, posse, her mum and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface – normal okay regular fine.

Find out more.

I Am Change by Suzy Zail book cover

I Am Change

by Suzy Zail
Walker Books Aus.

‘What if I don’t want to marry?’ Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. ‘Not want to marry?’ Her aunt frowned. ‘What else would you do?‘ 

Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is. In her village a girl is not meant to be smarter than her brother. A girl is not meant to go to school or enjoy her body or decide who to marry. Especially if she is poor. Inspired by and written in consultation with young Ugandan women, I Am Change is the tragic but empowering story of how a young girl finds her voice and the strength to fight for change.

Find out more.

Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard book cover

Invisible Boys

by Holden Sheppard
Fremantle Press

In a small town, everyone thinks they know you: Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who’s not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. But all three boys hide who they really are. When the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?

Find out more.

Nina Kenwood Book Cover - It Sounded Better In My Head

It Sounded Better in My Head

by Nina Kenwood
Text Publishing

When her parents announce their impending separation, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting or at least mildly upset. And now that Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, have fallen in love, she’s feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward.

Where does she fit in now? And what has happened to the version of her life that played out like a TV show—with just the right amount of banter, pining and meaningful looks?

Nothing is going according to plan.

But then an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.

It Sounded Better in My Head is a tender, funny and joyful novel about longing, confusion, feeling left out and finding out what really matters.

Find out more.

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories

edited by Michael Earp
Walker Books Aus.

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us. This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Find out more.

Making Friends With Alice Dyson by Poppy Nwosu book cover

Making Friends with Alice Dyson

by Poppy Nwosu
Wakefield Press

My hand, which is following a stray pencil rolling across the floor, stops dead right in front of two ratty green sneakers.
My gaze follows the shoes up over long legs to a towering figure.
I stand abruptly.
Tall, black eyes, messy hair, a permanent scowl on a permanently angry face. Our school’s delinquent, a waster, the kind of boy who always sits at the back of class.
The kind of boy even popular people like Sophia are afraid of.
Teddy Taualai.

Alice Dyson knows exactly how she’ll be spending her final year of high school: with her head down, concentrating on her textbooks and homework. She’s focused on the future, and nothing is going to get in her way.

Until a bizarre encounter with the school’s most notorious troublemaker derails all her plans, turning Alice into the unwilling centre of attention and her life into one enormous complication.

And even worse? Now Teddy Taualai won’t leave her alone.

A romantic story about rumours, friendship, and discovering who you really are.

Find out more.

Monuments by Will Kostakis book cover

Monuments

by Will Kostakis
Hachette Aus.

When Connor Giannopoulos discovers a Monument under his high school, he doesn’t have any idea how much his life is going to change forever. It turns out that immortality and strength beyond his wildest dreams is a bit more responsibility than he bargained for.

All 16-year-old Connor is trying to do is avoid his ex-best friend when he stumbles upon a trapdoor to a secret chamber under his school. But when Sally Rodgers breaks into the same secret chamber looking for an ancient being, things take an unexpected turn . . . and Connor’s life will never be the same again.

Along with the mysterious Sally and, later on, his new friend Locky, Connor discovers the Monuments – gods who have been buried for generations – who created the world and hid themselves away from humanity to keep everyone safe. But now they’re exposed and vulnerable, and Connor isn’t sure who, himself included, can be trusted with the knowledge and the power these gods have.

Monuments is the first book in an exciting new duology from YA star, Will Kostakis.

Find out more.

Prisoncorp by Marlee Jane Ward

Prisoncorp

by Marlee Jane Ward
Brio Books

Mirii has been caught — along with the friends who were helping her find her partner, Vu.

Being in prison is just like her revisiting her childhood in Orphancorp — only worse. Under the beating heat of a desert sun, the prisoners fight for food, water and a safe place to sleep.

Our heroine begins to question her urge to fight back and rebel as all it seems to do is lead her and the people she cares for deeper into trouble.

Fast-paced, gritty and original, Prisoncorp is the final instalment in the Welcome to Orphancorp trilogy. It confirms Marlee Jane Ward as one of Australia’s best YA authors.

Find out more.

Relic by Bronwyn Eley book cover

Relic

by Bronwyn Eley
Talem Press

In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.

As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow’s life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place.

It’s an appointment that will kill her.

As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade… That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics.

A rebel force plans to put an end to Rennard’s rule and Kaylan suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cause that might just be worth fighting for. But no cause is without its costs…

As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she’ll leave her mark on the world.

Relic is the absorbing first novel in The Relic Trilogy, a thrillingly dark YA fantasy series.

Find out more.

Rogue by AJ Betts book cover

Rogue

by A. J. Betts
Pan Macmillan Aus.

There was no going back; there was no choice, anymore. I’d chosen out and this was it: hot-cold, dry-wet, bright-dark and lonely.

Hayley has gone rogue.

She’s left everything she’s ever known – her friends, her bees, her whole world – because her curiosity was too big to fit within the walls of her underwater home.

But what is this new world she’s come to? Has Hayley finally found somewhere she can belong?

Or will she have to keep running?

The thrilling conclusion to Hive from award-winning, internationally bestselling author A. J. Betts

Find out more.

Sensitive by Allayne Webster book cover

Sensitive

by Allayne Webster
UQP

When thirteen-year-old Samantha moves to a new town, she decides to reinvent herself. She wants to be called SJ now. She’s going to be cool and mysterious. But above all, she’s going to pretend to be healthy.

SJ suffers from chronic eczema and allergies –  she’s sick of doctors’ appointments and tests, sick of itchiness and pain, sick of looking different, feeling different. All SJ wants is to be ‘normal’. She’ll do whatever it takes to keep her illness a secret. After all, would new friend Livvy or cute boy Sam still want to hang out with her if they knew the truth?

Find out more.

Sick Bay by Nova Weetman book cover

Sick Bay

by Nova Weetman
UQP

Meg uses Sick Bay to hide from other kids. She’s struggling with changes at home, wears slippers to school and buries her head in books.

New girl Riley is a type 1 diabetic with an over-protective mother. She’d rather chat with her friends than go to Sick Bay, but sometimes she has no choice.

They think they’ve worked each other out, but what if they’ve got it all wrong?

On the brink of high school, Meg and Riley need a place where they can find the courage to be themselves.

Find out more.

The Girl Who Chose Chess Raven Chronicles Book 2 by Violet Grace book cover

The Girl Who Chose (Book 2, Chess Raven Chronicles)

by Violet Grace
Black Inc. Books

They said I was The One. They made me their Queen.

The truth is, I was the last resort.

But I’m not done yet. I may be alone, but I have learnt one thing: 

I am the one I’ve been waiting for.

My destiny awaits me in Venice. But where, exactly? In the promises and charms of Prince Victor of House Grigio? In a deal struck with the sisterhood of mermaids who swim the canals? In the ice blue eyes of the one who cannot be mine? Or in the friend whose forgotten past changes everything? 

I am Chess Raven. I am the girl who chose.

Find out more.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling Cover Image

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

by Wai Chim
Allen & Unwin

A novel about growing up in a migrant Asian family with a mother who is suffering from a mental illness, from the highly commended author of Freedom Swimmer.

Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.

But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family.

Find out more.

This is How We Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield book cover

This is How We Change the Ending

by Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing

I have questions I’ve never asked. Worries I’ve never shared. Thoughts that circle and collide and die screaming because they never make it outside my head. Stuff like that, if you let it go—it’s a survival risk.

Sixteen-year-old Nate McKee is doing his best to be invisible. He’s worried about a lot of things—how his dad treats Nance and his twin half-brothers; the hydro crop in his bedroom; his reckless friend, Merrick.

Nate hangs out at the local youth centre and fills his notebooks with things he can’t say. But when some of his pages are stolen, and his words are graffitied at the centre, Nate realises he has allies. He might be able to make a difference, change his life, and claim his future. Or can he?

This is How We Change the Ending is raw and real, funny and heartbreaking—a story about what it takes to fight back when you’re not a hero.

Find out more.

Ubby's Underdogs; Return of the Dragon by Brenton McKenna book cover

Ubby’s Underdogs: Return of the Dragons

by Brenton McKenna
Magabala Books

It is the late 1940s and Broome, a small pearling town in the heart of an ancient land, is still recovering from WWII. Ubby and her gang of Underdogs cross into the Forbidden Zone on the Broome coastline in a desperate bid to locate their missing friend Sai Fong who has disappeared without a trace. What they encounter is worse than anything they could ever have imagined. To survive, the Underdogs must call upon the local gangs to unite, solve the mystery of the Dragon Summoner, and make contact with the mysterious Phoenix Dragon to fight the battle of all battles against an evil and unearthly enemy. What is at stake is the future of humanity itself. The third and final installment in the Ubby’s Underdogs graphic novel series.

Find out more.

Underdog LoveOzYA Short Stories

Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories

edited by Tobias Madden
Black Inc. Books

#LoveOzYA celebrates the best of new Australian writing for teenage readers. It has grown from a humble hashtag into a movement, reflecting the important role young-adult fiction plays in shaping our current generation of readers. This anthology collects, for the first time, some of the tremendous work from the #LoveOzYA community.

Featuring a foreword by award-winning Australian novelist Fleur Ferris (RiskWreckBlack and Found), Underdog celebrates the diverse, dynamic and ever-changing nature of our nation’s culture. From queer teen romance to dystopian comedy, from hard-hitting realism to gritty allegory, this brilliant, engrossing and inspiring collection of short stories will resonate with any teen reader, proving, yet again, why there is just so much to love about #LoveOzYA.

Find out more.

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume book cover

What I Like About Me

by Jenna Guillaume
Pan Macmillan Aus.

You know those movies where teenagers have the summer of their lives?

This summer is probably not going to be that.

Here lies Maisie Martin, dead from embarrassment, aged sixteen.

The last thing Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.

Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.

Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her best friend starts going out with the boy she’s always loved.

But Maisie’s got something to prove. And she’s not going to let anything or anyone – including herself – hold her back.

Find out more.

When the Ground is Hard by Malla Nunn book cover

When the Ground is Hard

by Malla Nunn
Allen & Unwin

Adele loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school will be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn’t pray and defies teachers’ orders.

As they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie’s gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and together they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers. When a boy goes missing on campus, Adele and Lottie must work together to solve the mystery, in the process learning the true meaning of friendship.

Find out more.

Witchy by Ariel Ries book cover

Witchy

by Ariel Ries
The Lion Forge

In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.

The young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?

Find out more.

Earlier Releases

Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough book cover

Amelia Westlake

by Erin Gough
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2018

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating.

Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet’s ideas are good – and they’ll keep Will from being expelled. That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school. 

But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies – and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake – and their feelings for each other – a secret? 

Perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli, this triumphant queer YA rom-com explores politics, privilege and power, and has a gloriously uplifting teen romance at its heart.

Find out more.

Between Us by Clare Atkins book cover

Between Us

by Clare Atkins
Black Inc. Books, 2018

From the award-winning author of Nona & Me comes a stunning new novel about two teenagers separated by cultural differences, their parents’ expectations and twenty kilometres of barbed-wire fence.

Is it possible for two very different teenagers to fall in love despite high barbed-wire fences and a political wilderness between them?

Anahita is passionate, curious and determined. She is also an Iranian asylum seeker who is only allowed out of detention to attend school. On weekdays, during school hours, she can be a ‘regular Australian girl’.

Jono needs the distraction of an infatuation. In the past year his mum has walked out, he’s been dumped and his sister has moved away. Lost and depressed, Jono feels as if he’s been left behind with his Vietnamese single father, Kenny.

Kenny is struggling to work out the rules in his new job; he recently started work as a guard at the Wickham Point Detention Centre. He tells Anahita to look out for Jono at school, but quickly comes to regret this, spiraling into suspicion and mistrust. Who is this girl, really? What is her story? Is she a genuine refugee or a queue jumper? As Jono and Anahita grow closer, Kenny starts snooping behind the scenes …

Find out more.

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina book cover

Catching Teller Crow

by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Allen & Unwin, 2018

A totally addictive ghost story, crime story and thriller, told half in prose and half in verse, from two of the most exciting Aboriginal voices in Australia.

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another.

Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.

Find out more.

Fence graphic novel YA series by C S Pacat

Fence (series)

by C. S. Pacat
Boom! Studios, 2017 – 2018

Novelist C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad team up for a new series perfect for fans of Check, Please! and Yuri!!! on Ice.

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama…and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him-if he can make the cut!

Find out more.

Girl Running Boy Falling by Kate Gordon book cover

Girl Running, Boy Falling

by Kate Gordon
Rhiza Edge, 2018

Do you ever look at the sky and think that’s where we belong? Like maybe the world is the wrong way around and we’re meant to be up there, floating?

Sixteen-year-old Therese lives in a small town on a small island. Her Aunt Kath calls her Tiger. Her friends call her Resey. The boy she loves calls her Champ. She’s a lot of different things for a lot of different people.

Therese has always had her feet on the ground. She’s running through high school, but someone in her life is about to fall …

And when he does, her perfect world falls with him. For the first time in her life, Therese can’t stand being on the ground.

Girl Running, Boy Falling is a raw read about a girl and boy—who are beautifully flawed.

Find out more.

Neverland by Margot McGovern book cover

Neverland

by Margot McGovern
Penguin Random House Aus., 2018

Kit Learmonth would rather die than grow up and leave Neverland …

After doing herself near-fatal harm, Kit has returned to her island home. But it’s a place she hardly recognises: the witch and the mermaids are hiding and the pirates have sailed to more bountiful shores. In their place is Neverland and its inhabitants – damaged teens too sick to be in regular school, watched over by her psychiatrist uncle. And now Kit is one of them.

Kit has a choice. She can use illicit night-time adventures with friends and mysterious new boy Rohan to avoid the truth. Or she can separate harsh reality from childhood fantasy and remember the night of her parents’ deaths.

What really prompted her family’s departure from the island? Did a monster drive them away? Is the monster still there?

Find out more.

P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones book cover

P is for Pearl

by Eliza Henry Jones
HarperCollins Aus., 2018

Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has become very good at not thinking about the awful things that have happened to her family.

She has also become used to people talking about her dead mum. Or not talking about her and just looking at Gwen sympathetically.

And it’s easy not to think about awful things when there are wild beaches to run along, best friends Loretta and Gordon to hang out with – and a stepbrother to take revenge on.

But following a strange disturbance at the cafe where she works, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago. And she slowly comes to realise that people aren’t as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.

From the talented author of the celebrated novels In the Quiet and Ache comes a poignant and moving book that explores the stories we tell ourselves about our families, and what it means to belong.

Find out more.

Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane book cover

Purple Threads

by Jeanine Leane
UQP, 2011

Purple Threads is a humorous collection of rural yarns by a gifted storyteller.

Jeanine Leane grew up on a sheep farm near Gundagai, and the stories are based on her childhood experiences in a house full of fiercely independent women. In between Aunty Boo’s surveillance of the local farmers’ sheep dip alliance and Aunty Bubby’s fireside tales of the Punic Wars, the women offer sage advice to their nieces on growing up as Indigenous girls in a white country town.

The cast of strong Aboriginal women in a rural setting gives a fascinating insight into both Aboriginal and rural life. Farming is not an easy pursuit for anyone, but the Aunties take all the challenges in their stride, facing torrential rain, violent neighbours and injured dogs with an equal mix of humour and courage. Purple Threads uses an irreverent style reminiscent of Gayle Kennedy’s Me, Antman & Fleabag and Marie Munkara’s Every Secret Thing, but offers a unique perspective on the Australian country lifestyle.

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Stone Girl by Eleni Hale book cover

Stone Girl

by Eleni Hale
Penguin Random House Aus., 2018

A heartbreaking novel of raw survival and hope, and the children society likes to forget.Stone Girl is the powerful and moving story of Sophie, who becomes a ward of the state.

An unspeakable event changes everything for Sophie. No more Mum, school or bed of her own. She’s made a ward of the state and grows up in a volatile world where kids make their own rules, adults don’t count and the only constant is change.

Until one day she meets Gwen, Matty and Spiral. Spiral is the most furious, beautiful boy Sophie has ever known. And as their bond tightens she finally begins to confront what happened in her past.

I’m at the police station. There’s blood splattered across my face and clothes. In this tiny room with walls the colour of winter sky I hug a black backpack full of treasures. Only one thing is certain . . . no one can ever forgive me for what I’ve done.

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The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah book cover

The Lines We Cross

by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2016

Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.

Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart — and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.

Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like. 

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The Rift by Rachael Craw book cover

The Rift

by Rachael Craw
Walker Books Aus, 2018

When the Rift opens, death follows. For generations, the Rangers of Black Water Island have guarded the Old Herd against horrors released by the Rift. Cal West, an apprentice Ranger with a rare scar and even rarer gifts, fights daily to prove he belongs within their ranks. After nine years away, Meg Archer returns to her childhood home only to find the Island is facing a new threat that not even the Rangers are prepared for. Meg and Cal can’t ignore their attraction, but can they face their darkest fears to save the Island from disaster?

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Book Cover: Valentine by Jodi McAlister

Valentine

by Jodi McAlister
Penguin Random House Aus., 2017

Sarah J. Maas meets Holly Black with an OzYA twist. Valentine is the first book in Jodi McAlister’s page-turning paranormal YA series featuring Pearl Linford and Finn Blacklin.

Strange and terrible things begin to happen to four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day. One of these teenagers is the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human child at its birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is.

Pearl shares a birthday with Finn Blacklin. She’s known him all her life and disliked every second of it. But now Pearl and Finn must work together to protect themselves from the sinister forces that are seeking them out.

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Whisper by Lynette Noni book cover

Whisper

by Lynette Noni
Pantera Press, 2018

“Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,” they told me. “It’s for people just like you.”

I believed them. That was my mistake.

There isn’t anyone else in the world like me.

I’m different.

I’m an anomaly.

I’m a monster.

For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes… Subject Six-Eight-Four, ‘Jane Doe’, has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word.

Life at Lengard follows a strict, torturous routine that has never changed.

Until now.

When Jane is assigned a new—and unexpectedly kind—evaluator, her resolve begins to crack, despite her best efforts.

As she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious ‘program’, Jane discovers that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot …. And one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.

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Got a favourite Oz YA read from 2019 that you don’t see listed here? Sing its praises using #LoveOzYA.


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