Layla – Colleen Hoover

I’d seen some quite mixed reviews for this book and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Being a Colleen Hoover fan, I went with my gut and I’m glad I did.

Whilst Layla is a departure from her usual genre, it’s still a love story at heart, albeit with a paranormal twist that adds to the suspense. There were parts that kept me guessing and I wasn’t quite sure where it was going at times but this kept me racing through the pages.

Overall, I can see why some people didn’t like it, it was a little odd in parts and the female lead is hard to connect with (but this is part of the story) but it is a gripping read that is fast paced with plenty of intrigue.

Genre: paranormal romance (I’m not sure if this is YA but it would suit a YA audience).
Rating: 4.5/5⭐️

Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer

Midnight sun

I’ll start by saying I was a huge Twilight fan way back when. Firmly team Edward, I devoured each book in days and was utterly broken when I finished the series. That being said, I’ve re-read some of the books ten years on, and didn’t quite have the same views so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Midnight Sun.

Over the years, Edward has received a lot of criticism and reading Twilight again as an adult I honestly understand why. Midnight Sun seems to work hard to make Edward come across in a better light but I think this was sometimes at the expense of the story and as a result it seemed like everything he said was backed up and justified so it seemed a little dull in parts and at 700+ pages, Meyer could afford to shed some words. Some of the story seemed to jump quite quickly whilst other parts were very slow and some of the text was a little jarring.

It didn’t grip me as much as the original series did at the time but I did enjoy it for the most part and it’s a great accompaniment for fans wanting more.

Genre: YA / Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Looking For Alaska – John Green

I’ve read a few John Green novels and am always pulled in. I love his writing style and voice so I always know I’ll enjoy his novels. Looking for Alaska was packed with young, relatable and flawed characters with a dynamic that really brought the story to life. There’s humour, sadness and some quite profound messages and lessons learnt. The Fault in Our Stars is still my favourite John Green book but they’re all great reads.

Rating: 4/5

Genre: YA

Divergent – Veronica Roth

I really liked the movie and had heard so much about the book, I had to give it a go. I’ll be honest and say it started a little slow for me. Perhaps it just lacked a bit of depth and I didn’t feel connected to the characters or world, but I found it so hard to engage with, I almost gave up.

Once the story got going in the second half of the book, I was gripped – it became quite fast-paced and dramatic.

Genre: Dystopian YA

Rating: 4/5⭐️

The Boy in The Black Suit – Jason Reynolds

The Boy in The Black Suit is an understated coming-of-age story about a teenaged boy coming to terms with his mother’s death whilst trying to make his way in the world. The sense of community throughout was low-key yet powerful and whilst the book avoids preachy tones, there’s plenty to take away from it.

I found the story believable and heartwarming and enjoyed the light humour and perspective.

Genre: YA fiction

Rating: 4.5/5⭐️

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games series is one of the best examples of the old writing adage ‘show don’t tell.’ You’re forced into the action with immediacy and feel every urgent, terrifying step of Katniss’s journey – it’s one of the things that makes it great. The Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds starts off telling the story, with much of the action told after the event. There’s no urgency and it leaves the pace a little slow in the first section of the book. The switch from 1st person (Hunger Games) to 3rd person gives the book a completely different feel too. Although it changed the experience, I get why Collins did it. First person works best when you’re rooting for the MC. Katniss is our heroine and we’re not supposed to doesn’t to root for Snow.

The story is interesting and when it does pick up, it gets good. Really good. Seeing the games play out from an outside ‘Capitol’ POV rather than a tribute POV was interesting and much of the action. tension and violence in this section felt very much on-brand and I got a little bit nostalgic at this point, reminiscing about the first time I read the trilogy.

All in all it’s a stunning hardback which is superbly written and a perfect accompaniment to the series. It’s a little slow in parts but worth a read.

Genre: Dystopian YA

Rating: 4/5⭐️

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