Title: This Can Never Not Be Real

Author: Sera Milano

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Egmont Books/Electric Monkey

The Blurb

A compelling, heartbreaking and hopeful book for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Jennifer Niven and Holly Jackson.

In the unremarkable town of Amberside, the unthinkable has happened: Terrorists have attacked a local festival. No one knows why, and no one knows who the attackers are, but that doesn’t matter. What matters first is survival. And what matters after that is survival, too.

In this brilliantly written account of hope, humour and humanity, five ordinary teenagers are caught up in a truly extraordinary situation. It’s a heart-pounding and gripping account of the fight for survival as the attackers prowl the festival grounds, told from multiple perspectives.

This is a book for anyone facing the barrage of bleak reports that fill our newsfeeds and for anyone who needs to see that behind the hate that makes the headlines, there is always love.

The Review

I won’t lie to you, I am a traditionalist when it comes to literature. I like it to be narrative, speech marks, proper punctuation – the whole shebang and normally when a book veers away from this I get frustrated. However, with This Can Never Not Be Real I was able to get past the non-traditional format because the story is so damn good.

It is a story of a terrorist attack that happens during a local festival in a small town and it is told from the perspective of several people. It is told in what can almost be described as soundbites of information interspersed with police reporting. The style is similar in style to how you feel an interrogation would go but also shows how one event can be experienced by several different people in many different ways.

What it also does is highlight underlying prejudices and challenges them. It shows how communities – big or small – can be brought together through tragedy and how powerful the shared experience is.

I thoroughly recommend This Can Never Not Be Real and will be foisting it into the hands of the students I work with whether they want to read it or not.

This Can Never Not Be Real by Sera Milano is available now.

For more information regarding Sera Milano (@seramilano) please visit www.seramilano.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Things the Eye Can’t See

Author: Penny Joelson

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont

The Blurb

The thrilling new novel from the award-winning author of I Have No Secrets.

A chance meeting and a secret message drags Libby into a thrilling mystery, but no one believes she can spot the clues. Can she make them realise what she is really capable of, before it’s too late?

Libby is visually impaired but that doesn’t stop her being a keen photographer. She loves going out walking with her guide dog, Samson, and taking photos, but her family worry about her – and Libby wishes she could be more independent.

The day that the boy gives her a secret note to deliver changes everything. Because soon after, the boy goes missing, and no one – except Libby and her new friend Kyle – thinks there is anything to worry about.

Libby knows there’s no way her parents would let her get involved. But what if she’s the only person who can solve the mystery…?

A compulsive page-turner for readers aged 12 and up.

The Review

I love books that have what is seen as diverse characters. What I don’t like about books is that people are often seen as being diverse characters. Confused? Let me explain. Things The Eye Can’t See is the story of Libby and how she gets embroiled in a mystery which she then has to help solve to save her friends. So far so normal as plots go. The diverse factor is that Libby is partially sighted. 

This rant is not against Penny Joelson, if anything Penny Joelson is part of the solution and not part of the problem. Disability is seen as diversifying a character rather than seen as the norm. What Joelson does fantastically well in Things The Eye Can’t See is address some of the preconceptions about visual impairment which often lead to prejudices. It isn’t seen as “normal” for a visually impaired character be able to solve a crime mystery. It is due to this fact that Joelson should really get more credit for her writing. 

Besides the disability factor Things The Eye Can’t See is a great story of the difficulties of growing up. About how friendships can drift when boys come and go. How school life can be difficult. How people come from different socio-economic backgrounds. All of this is wrapped up in the terrifying bow of gang culture and crime. What more could you want from a story?

I really enjoyed reading Things The Eye Can’t See. Joelson accurately captures the voice of the teenager. The worries that they have and the inability to admit that they need help from a grown up. She really has managed to capture something special with this novel.

Things the Eye Can’t See by Penny Joelson is available now.

For more information regarding Penny Joelson (@pennyjoelson) please visit www.pennyjoelson.co.uk.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author: Laura Steven

Pages: 297 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing

The Blurb

An LGBT romantic comedy with a twist from the Comedy Women in Print prize winner Laura Steven, author of The Exact Opposite of Okay. A hilarious love story with bite, for fans of Sex Education, Booksmart, Becky Albertalli’s Love, Simon and Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key.

What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew about chemistry – in the lab and in love. Is hot guy Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best friend Keiko some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

The Review

So in high school I was pretty nerdy. I didn’t mind and to be fair people didn’t make anything of it. It was at a time when being nerdy wasn’t considered the cook cache that it is nowadays. I worked in the library, I was slightly chubby and I had flaming red hair. I was – what some people would ironically call – a catch. The reason I am giving you this potted history is because if I had been told during my formative years that  I could take a pill that would make people be attracted to me then hell yes I would have done it. No questions asked.

This is the same for protagonist Caro Kerber-Murphy. She doesn’t feel like she compares to her two best friends who are interesting and beautiful. She fails to get noticed. If she were a colour it would be beige. Ecru at a push. When she finds an advert for a medically approved drug that can make people fall in love with you she jumps on it. Little does she realise that the consequences can be quite damaging.

I really enjoyed reading about Caro and her friends. I loved the inner turmoil that she goes through and how she really just wants to be noticed. I love how Steven used her back story to justify the way she was feeling without ramming it down the reader’s throats. Steven has shown in The Love Hypothesis and in her previous books how she trusts her readers to be able to understand things without spelling them out. As a reader, I appreciate that.

The Love Hypothesis also makes you remember just what falling in love for the first time feels like. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that you can finish in one sitting.

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Steven (@LauraSteven) please visit www.laura-steven.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit www.egmont.co.uk.

For more information regarding Egmont Publishing (@EgmontUK) please visit www.egmont.co.uk.

Title: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey

The Blurb

Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But X has secrets – her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight.

Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Poet X is a story told entirely in verse. This in itself is nothing new. We have seen other writers express themselves in this way – notably, Sarah Crossan. The Poet X takes this concept and almost has writer Elizabeth Acevedo bleed her thoughts and emotions on the page.

The story is about Xiamora. It is about being a teenager. It is about being of Dominican descent and what is expected of her. It is about being a girl in a world that favours the male. Mostly, it is about growing up with these life conditions and trying to find your own place and not the one that is expected by her extremely religious mother.

My heart broke so many times when I read this story. As a reader, you feel the claustrophobia that Xiamora feels. How the world is both so big and so small at the same time.

The Poet X is amazing. Read it now.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Acevedo (@AcevedoWrites) please visit www.acevedowrites.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit www.electricmonkeybooks.co.uk.

Title: The Exact Opposite of Okay

Author: Laura Steven

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing UK

The Blurb

A hilarious, groundbreaking young adult novel for anyone who’s ever called themselves a feminist . . . and anyone who hasn’t. For fans of Louise O’Neill, Holly Bourne and Amy Schumer. 

Izzy O’Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by . . .

Izzy never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off – but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.

Bitingly funny and shockingly relevant, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a bold, brave and necessary read. For readers of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Doing It by Hannah Witton and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.

The Review

Oh my wow. What a debut. Laura Steven has knocked it out of the park with her debut novel The Exact Opposite of Okay. It is the teen feminist novel that I didn’t have. I never thought I would hear myself say this but it made me want to be a teenager again so that I could have a copy of The Exact Opposite of Okay as my weapon of choice against the douchebaggery that is high school. I’m not even sure that sentence made sense. That is how good this novel is.

The story centres around protagonist Izzy O’Neill who makes some decisions about her life that don’t fair too well for her. Okay. I’m 34 and I will admit that I did judge Izzy for some of the things she did. I frequently said out loud to the empty room “Oh Izzy, you will regret this.” But then I realised this is exactly what this book is about. Judging people by the standards we set for ourselves and the belief that those standards are universally good and right and moral. Laura Steven teaches us in The Exact Opposite of Okay that if you are happy with how you are living your life then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. She does this all the while looking at the disparity in slut shaming and how the privilege of having xy chromosome gives you license to not be judged for doing the exact same thing as the xx card holders.

The Exact Opposite of Okay will go down as one of my favourite books of the year. It is sharp, sassy and makes me excited to see what else Laura Steven has up her sleeve.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Steven (@LaurMSteven) please visit www.laura_steven.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Egmont Publishing UK (@EgmontUK) please visit www.egmont.co.uk.