Wednesday, 15 December 2010
I can see the problemfrom the other side now. As a writer, one does acquire quite a lot of writerly mates, and they do write remarkably good books.
So I’m not even going to try to pick my books of the year (and to be completely honest, for 2010, I wrote my books of the year). Instead, here are some recent highlights.
Two YA books I loved so much that I reread them immediately.
Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson. Liam’s an under-achieving troubled teen from the backstreets of Belfast, his show-jumping cousin Vicky is spoiled and snobbish. When Liam has to go and stay with Vicky and her mum, and discovers a talent for and a love of horses, Vicky isn’t too pleased. I loved everything about this book, the people are so real and the story immensely satisfying. I loved the idea of splicing two genres – gritty crime and a pony book – and kudos to Sheena Wilkinson for the way she makes it work. It’s dramatic and funny, heart-warming and sad. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Firebrand by Gillian Philip. So, I’m Gillian Philip's biggest squeeingest fangirl anyway, and now she’s written a book so fab that everyone is raving about it and saying it’s the fantasy book of the year and it’s going to be the next big thing. And they are completely correct, because Firebrand is wonderful (and I don’t even especially like fantasy. So it must be good.) Set in the world of the Sidhe, Scottish faeries separated from the human word by a Veil, living for hundreds of years, Firebrand has a moody and irresistible anti-hero, the glorious Seth; a kind and noble hero, his half-brother Conal, and a story which is so compelling that I hardly stopped reading to breathe. First in a series, buy it for everyone.
Two sequels that are even better than the books they follow.
There are three of us who had very similar years last year. Ellen Renner, Tamsyn Murray and I all brought out our first books at the beginning of the year and the sequels in August/September. I loved their first two books and I thought both sequels were even better(I think Almost True is better than When I Was Joe as well, maybe there's something about sequels that give new authors a boost of confidence).
Tamsyn’s My So-called Haunting (a sequel to My So-Called Afterlife) is a sweet and funny romantic comedy, set in a world of ghosts, with a new main character, Skye, a teenage girl who has enough to worry about - new home, new school - without the additional complication of seeing the dead. And then there’s Nico, the tall, dark, handsome mysterious boy at school who definitely has something of the night about him. Tamsyn deftly blends comedy, suspense and romance,and there’s an especially funny ghost called Mary whose admonition ‘Thou resembleth a strumpet’ has become one of my catchphrases of the year.
And a great book for adults:
Dog Boy by Eva Hornung knocked me out. It’s about a six year old Russian boy who is adopted by a pack of feral dogs, it’s entirely believable, horrific and touching and upsetting. You think you're learning about the nature of dogs, and then you realise that Eva Hornung is teaching you about humans. It's extraordinary and deeply troubling. Anyone who’s into fluffy werewolf tales should read this for a reality check about pack life. Stunning.