Overview of books for young adults – review | Young adult

For the long winter nights, the lush folk debuts of Joanna Ruth Meyer Echo North (Pushkin, £ 8.99) is sure to delight. In a Russian-inspired fantasy world, Echo makes a pact with a strange talking wolf: she will live a year in her house and in return the wolf will save her father’s life. There she finds secrets, danger, a magical library and the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment to be pierced. Immersive and romantic, it is a unique take on fairy tales such as East of the Sun and West of the Moon and The beauty and the Beast.

There are more fairy tales in Natasha Bowen’s epic debut Sea skin (Penguin, £ 7.99), which merges The little Mermaid with West African mythology. Simi, a young black mermaid, is one of the Mami Wata, who has a duty to gather the souls of those who die at sea. When a living boy is thrown from a slave ship, Simi defies the decree to save him life and must go to the supreme creator to make amends. Fantastic creatures and vengeful gods form a vivid backdrop to this rich and original story of a girl’s journey to find herself.

Alex Wheatle’s fiction also challenges stereotypical representations of slaves. Caribbean Kemosha (Andersen Press, £ 7.99, February), which puts a young black girl at the center of a thrilling high seas adventure set in 1650s Jamaica. Born into slavery and sold to work in the front A colonial post in Port Royal, Kemosha escapes aboard the famous pirate ship Captain Morgan, eager to earn enough to buy his brother’s freedom. Kemosha’s indomitable spirit, determination and wit make her an unforgettable heroine.

Joanna Ruth Meyer, whose Echo North
Joanna Ruth Meyer, whose Echo North “will certainly enchant”. Photography: Gary Smith

In blue running by Lori Ann Stephens (Moonflower, £ 16.99), the near future spawned the violent and corrupt Republic of Texas, where gun ownership is compulsory, abortion illegal, and the isolated country of the United States by a wall and an internet failure. When a gun accident kills Bluebonnet’s best friend, she runs away and joins Jet, a pregnant Latin American migrant. Their race to the border is exciting.

Can You Trust Everything You Read in a Newspaper? In contemporary fiction, Muhammad Khan Listen to me carefully (Macmillan, £ 7.99, February) explores the impact of merging two very different schools into one. Frustrated by the elite student cliques and the school’s official glossy journal, Dua sets up an alternative to highlight the social inequalities revealed by the merger, as well as the controversies the school would prefer to keep. in silence. A bold and timely book about protesting and finding your voice.

Finally, Kate Weston’s Diary of a Confused Feminist, one of the funniest young adult books of recent years, continues in a sequel, Must do better (Hodder, £ 7.99, February). It’s a new term and Kat is determined to raise awareness of her feminist society and support her friends through difficult times. And there is a class trip to France to look forward to. These artfully observed misadventures echo the much-missed teenage writer Louise Rennison in a candid and contemporary take on sex, relationships, and mental health.

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Colin L. Johnson