Friday, 24 May 2013

Five Friday Favourites [3]

Welcome to Five Friday Favourites! A regular blog feature where myself or another blogger share their five favourites of a particular bookish category, be that favourite books ever, favourite recent releases or favourite bad boys ;)

Today I have the lovely Sophie who has shared her Five Favourite controversial novels

One of our specialties in UKYA is our preference for gritty, controversial novels. I’m a big fan of them myself and here are my top five favourite controversial YA novels:

  • FORBIDDEN byTabitha Suzuma took my breath away when I read it during the summer of 2010. I’d never read anything like it. Forbidden is the story of Lochan and Maya, a brother and sister who looks after their siblings in a horrible home situation. They fall in love with each other. I wanted them to be together so badly, but I also knew it was so wrong! Never have I had such a heart-head struggle. And that ending, wow.

One of my favourite books so far this year has been Isla J Bick’s DROWNING INSTINCT. I’m a big fan of her post-apocalyptic series and I wondered how she’d handle the change to contemporary: brilliantly, actually. Bick draws characters who are damaged and broken by things that most people wouldn’t want to think about all while juggling the relationship between a student and a teacher. Motives are questioned and feelings are expressed. But Bick never casts judgment, only depicts two damaged human beings who sought comfort in each other. Breathtaking.

Meg Rosoff’s debut HOWI LIVE NOW is one of my favourite books of all time and I couldn’t even guess how many times I've read it. Though Daisy’s story tackles war, eating disorders and a relationship between two first cousins, that’s not what makes it controversial to me; it's the narrative style and language. Daisy swears, Daisy shouts and she doesn’t use proper punctuation and sentence structure. It’s verging on stream of consciousness and it’s utterly perfect. Never has a character’s voice been so perfectly captured before. If you haven’t read this yet, what on earth have you been doing for the last eight years?

JUNK byMelvin Burgess is often regarded as the controversial YA novel. Sex, swearing, drugs, prostitution; think of a taboo, Junk covered it. I was fairly young when I read this and I didn’t really realise how controversial it was until I re-read it last year. Burgess doesn’t pull any punches and his sharp, clear prose does Gemma and Tar’s story justice. This really is a book you have to read if you love contemporary, or YA, or reading.

I would say that all thought these four are my favourite controversial novels, Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy is probably the most famous. I didn’t get around to read Northern Lights until last year and I still haven’t read the rest of the trilogy as I didn't love it the way I expected to, but I definitely understood why it made such a splash. Pullman’s take on religion shocked the media and outraged religious communities, causing it to be banned countless times. It’s an eye-opening trilogy and definitely worth a read.

So there you have it! My favourite controversial YA reads. Do you think I missed anything important? Disagree that any of these are controversial?

Thanks for hosting me Cait!

Thanks so much for sharing, Sophie! I LOVED Northern Lights, How I Live Now and Junk when I was a teenager! My favourite controversial book is probably Denial by David Belbin...what are yours?


  1. I tried reading Forbidden but just couldn't! I don't think I've read anything classed as controversial... that might be on purpose

  2. Thanks for having me! I'm glad you love them as well Cait, and Anya, you;re seriously missing out, my friend.

  3. I bought Junk the other day and enjoyed The Hit so I'm going to try and read it ASAP. Really good idea, Sophie! :)

  4. Thanks so much for sharing Sophie! This is such a good idea

  5. The only one of these that I've read is Forbidden, but my god did I love it! The ending ruined me. My fave controversial book is probably Stole by Lucy Christopher, but I'm going to have to check out Junk and How I Live Now soon :) Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have been meaning to read Forbidden for some time now. I loved V.C. Andrew's books as a teenager, so while I know this one won't be the same experience, I want to give it a try to see how this author takes on the subject matter.


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