Book List: Local YA as good as the internationals

I’ve long maintained that our Young Adult authors are world class. But I’ve frequently heard that teens have a touch of what our adults apparently have – cultural cringe; an assumption that NZ means boring, ordinary.

We need to read our literature: if we don’t, who else is going to want to? We have YA authors who have had big deals overseas, ones whose books have been optioned for movies – and the time is now ripe to celebrate them again as The Changeover movie comes out, and the Margaret Mahy YA titles get new covers from Hachette.

So here we go, a list with a difference. I have matched several Kiwi YA authors with international YA authors that write in a similar genre – with thanks to School Librarian from Mountainview High School, Julie James, for her help. Hopefully it will inspire you, or your teen, to try our locals.

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If you like All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, try Pieces of You by Eileen Merriman

If you like the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, you will love the Spark series by Rachael Craw.

If you like Seed by Lisa Heathfield, you will love I am not Esther and its series.

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If you enjoyed Looking for Alaska by John Green, you will certainly enjoy Smashed by Mandy Hager. Mandy Hager is at least as amazing as John Green (if not more amazing!).

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If you enjoyed More than This by Patrick Ness, try When We Wake from Karen Healey, and its follow up While We Run.

If you like the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore, you will enjoy the Brian Falkner series Recon Team Angel.

If you enjoyed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas have a read of Bugs by Whiti Hereaka.

If you enjoyed Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo – or any of his war-themed books – try My Brother’s War or others of David Hill’s war-themed books.

If you like Tomorrow When the War Began, try The Bridge and Havoc by Jane Higgins.

Note: There are several New Zealand YA authors who have not made it into the list above because I just couldn’t think of an appropriate equivalent to them internationally. So – here’s the challenge. Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter duet (Laini Taylor? Maybe?), Anna Mackenzie’s The Sea-wreck Stranger series, Tania Roxborogh’s Banquo’s Son series, Maurice Gee’s Salt series, Brian Falkner’s Battlesaurus series (which is US-published), Fleur Beale’s Juno of Taris series. Bernard Beckett’s Genesis. Kate De Goldi’s The 10pm Question. Tell us on Facebook what you think might be a gateway book or series!

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Sarah Forster has worked in the New Zealand book industry for 15 years, in roles promoting Aotearoa’s best authors and books. She has a Diploma in Publishing from Whitireia Polytechnic, and a BA (Hons) in History and Philosophy from the University of Otago. She was born in Winton, grew up in Westport, and lives in Wellington. She was a judge of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2017. Her day job is as a Senior Communications Advisor—Content for Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.