We are seeing some really exciting fiction for teenaged readers, including some new fantasy stories and those that draw on real life but with a twist. We also feature Dreams of Freedom, which explores what freedom means to different people and which can be used to encourage a range of discussions and projects.

Shadow Study (The Chronicles of Ixia, Book 7)
Maria V. Snyder

Mira Ink

ISBN 9781848453630

Fans of Maria V Snyder's bestselling Ixia Chronicles books will be thrilled to see a new trilogy beginning with this latest title, Shadow Study; it's also a great opportunity to bring new readers to Snyder's captivating fantasy series, which began with Poison Study. In Shadow Study, the 'soulfinder' Yelena is attacked and mysteriously loses her magical abilities. She is forced to track down her enemies without her special powers whilst Valek, head of security in Ixia and the man she loves, is caught up with Ixian power struggles. Along the way, we learn about new smuggling operations and see a gap widen between Valek and his Commander, leaving lots to ponder before we see the next 'Study' book to contine these threads. The distinct worlds of Ixia and Sitia, the powerful intrigues and the raft of great characters, as well as the blend if magical and practical, make this a hugely enjoyable series for readers aged 11+. 416 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Carol Milwall.

Shadow Study (The Chronicles of Ixia, Book 7)
Dreams of Freedom
Amnesty International

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804532

Dreams of Freedom is the second Amnesty-insired publication from Frances Lincoln, following We Are All Born Free which explores through pictures the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The latest book is a collection of powerful expressions about freedom from such champions of our freedoms as Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi. Through their words, we explore the preciousness of freedom through such things as equality and self expression, being able to enjoy life and liberty, peace and the freedom to be ourselves. The succinct text for each statement is profound in its brevity and this is an artform that can be explored in its own right. Each statement is delivered in a visual way with distinct illustrations for each quotation, which brings home the individuality of the global messages; we each, all of us, have an interest in protecting our freedoms and those of other people. Upper KS2 children can use Dreams of Freedom to begin exploration and discussion around subjects like equality and home and the many other issues raised, while KS3 students can take this further with research into each of the figures quoted to understand the problems they faced. They can also be encouraged to write and design their own statements for issues that are close to their hearts; while many of the freedoms described are global ones, we can still use them to reflect and challenge ourselves in our day-to-day lives, from the freedom to be ourselves to the freedom to make a difference. 48 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Louise McGahan, teacher.

Dreams of Freedom

ISBN 9781405275682

After their school excursion goes wrong, Jake, Felix, Andy and Sam spend a night in the forest, sheltering from a crazy storm. When they finally stumble home, they discover something as weird as it is scary.... No one knows them. Felix, consumed by guilt for an accident which put his brother in a wheelchair, sees the school trip into the local nature reserve as the perfect opportunity to make amends. He uses the presence of his companions, carefully chosen, to cast a powerful spell to reverse Oscar's condition. But he has upset the natural order and it needs to be put right. Arriving back in town, expecting relieved parents to welcome them after going missing for a night, they discover that nobody knows them; there are no records of their existence and the lives of their families are rather different. They appear to have entered a parallel universe with no idea of how to get back and a malign spirit determined to be rid of something which does not belong. As observers of an alternative version of their lives, the teenagers learn some hard truths about themselves, their behaviour and to appreciate what they have. A disparate group, they also have to work together to return to their own reality; but is that really the end...? The story is pacy, with chapters alternating between viewpoints of the main characters, and reflects its origins as a television series, with plenty of action and cliff-hangers; recommended for readers of 11+. 336 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Game Changer
Tim Bowler

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192794154

Life is hard for Mikey. He's frightened of open spaces and would much rather curl up in his room with a book, avoiding the reality of life outside his four walls. So going to a noisy, public place is a big deal, but with his sister Meggie by his side he feels the time is right to try - it should be safe. But things go badly wrong when he encounters a gang and witnesses something terrible. To make matters worse, they know where he lives, and now they have his phone number and address. Game Changer is a very good place to start if you are unsure about trying the thriller genre for the first time. Tim Bowler has written young characters who are easy to identify with and has also tackled the sensitive subject of anxiety, agoraphobia and its potential effects on a family. The story is easy to follow and really plays on the idea of feeling safe in your own space and what can happen when this is no longer the case. Advanced readers may not find this enough of a challenge but the tension builds nicely and the end is not only satisfying but moving as well. I would definitely recommend this as a holiday read and think parents may benefit from the insight into teenage minds that it offers as well! 192 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Caroline Mitchell, teacher.

Game Changer
Phoenix Rising
Bryony Pearce

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847154507

Fantastic swash buckling adventure on the high seas. (Note to self: find out what a 'swash' is and why the buckling of it is so exciting.) But hang on, this is set in the not too distant, very imaginable, future. What the dickens is humanity doing adventuring on the high seas like eighteenth century pirates? I'll explain. Phoenix Rising (great title, works on many levels) is set within a world that has recklessly squandered nature's resources, fought over the few remaining oil reserves, faced economic collapse and returned to the rationing of the 1940's under military rule. As if that wasn't enough, a supervolcano in America has also erupted plunging the world into a decade of darkness. The United Kingdom is now unrecognisable as Scotland and Wales have closed their borders safeguarding oil and power reserves and a military coup has turned England into the State of St George. Pause for breath as all this information is given via the form of newspaper cuttings and memos at the beginning of the book. I know, Wow! Rising from the ashes of that world is the Phoenix, safe sanctuary for a motley crew of criminals, salvaging from the heavily polluted seas and trading what they need to survive. It's not all plain sailing as it's a cut throat world out there... did I mention the piracy? And the Banshee with a captain set on the destruction of the Phoenix and it's crew? This is an exciting read, good honest (OK, yes, well spotted, pirates does kind of knock the stuffing out of the honest bit...but let me finish!) good honest adventure with great, strong characters both male and female that will appeal to both boys and girls. 400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian

Phoenix Rising
Lisa Heathfield

Electric Monkey

ISBN 9781405275385

Seed, the debut novel by Lisa Heathfield, explores the idea of power and the abuse of power by taking us into a fictional cult called Seed in which the followers worship the ideal of nature. The small community within Seed is separated from the outside world, avoiding modern technology and science in favour of a lifestyle that is governed by natural cycles and seasons. The followers are lead by 'Papa S' who is given a god-like status within their paternalistic community. Pearl, who is 15, has always lived at Seed and is happy until a family of 'outsiders' arrive and teenaged Ellis begin to question the rules she and her community live by. Gradually, Pearl's naivity is stripped back until she, too, begins to see a darker side to life at Seed and to question the rules she has always lived by. Although the descriptions of life at Seed are, initially, blissful, there are dark undercurrents running through this book that start to emerge from the moment Pearl is forced to spend a night shut away in an underground hole, to the reader's realisation that the young woman at Seed are made to act as 'companions' to the older community members. Tension builds as the novel progresses and it becomes a compelling read. There is plenty of material to provoke discussions about individual freedoms, as well as the freedom to live separately from society. It's a strong debut and I'm looking forward to seeing more from the author. 352 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Alison Mitchell.

The Lie Tree
Frances Hardinge


ISBN 9781447264101

From a new Carnegie-shortlisted author comes some clever, well-researched and careful writing which tells the story of Faith's hunt to gain her father's favour and then to solve the mystery of his secret work and who wanted him dead to gain his secrets. Set in Victorian times, feisty Faith is a girl well beyond her time and years, and Hardinge has much to say through her protagonist of the potential of young women and their historical fight for equality, which should resonate well with her young teenage readers. However I feel it is probably better suited to younger but more capable readers than the 14-year-old Faith. Hardinge manages to weave Biblical themes of truth and creation into her work without being too obvious, providing a moral platform for her readers to think about whether telling lies is ever a good thing to do. Fans of Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea and Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke will be satisfied. 416 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Helen Swinyard, school librarian.

The Lie Tree
I'll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406326499

Jude and her twin brother Noah are close until a tragedy drives them apart. Now they are barely speaking - and both falling for boys they can't have. Love's complicated. In a passionate, sweeping novel Jandy Nelson explores love in a variety of forms with an intensity that makes the characters, particularly the twins at the centre of the story, leap off the page. Art and its creation, the relationship between the artist and his or her work, are at the centre of the book. Whilst the twins are both talented and encouraged by their mother to apply for art college, it is Noah who she recognises as having a unique gift. Feeling she is overlooked and ignored, Jude commits a terrible act of betrayal, the consequences of which are compounded by an accident which changes their family forever. The story unfolds over a three year period with Jude's sections of the story written as a 16 year old whilst Noah's covers the events of their lives at 13 to 14. The full picture, the links between characters and the secrets they hide, is only gradually revealed, as would the form emerging from the block of stone as the sculptor works on it or as the artist lays down paint on the canvas. Suffused with colour and emotion, lightened by humour, this study of love - romantic, familial, friendship - is ultimately about acceptance, forgiveness and being true to oneself. Highly recommended for readers of 14+. 432 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

I'll Give You the Sun

ISBN 9781444923971

This debut fantasy novel takes us on a journey to the distant village of Pelt where Fletcher lives with his adoptive father, the Blacksmith. Undercurrants run through the village with the mainly poor community struggling to avoid problems with the guards or visiting Pinkertons - lawmakers from the city. A chance encounter with a passing soldier selling his wares enables Fletcher to summon a rare demon and he realises he has magical powers. Without time to think he has to flee the village for a crime he did not commit and travels to Corcillum, the city. He soon encounters trouble and is saved by a passing soldier, Arcturus, who takes him to the Vocans Academy to be trained as a summoner for the forthcoming war with the Orcs. From the outset this book is fraught with danger and Fletcher has to fight not only for his survival but also against prejudice from all sides. It is a true fantasy novel with Summoners, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs as well as class issues between the arrogant Nobles and the Commoners. The different races all view one another with suspicion whilst trying to win a war together against the Orcs. Whilst I quickly fell in love with Ignatius, Fletcher's rare salamander demon, I found the detailed explanations of the various magical laws, history, spells and Ether world confusing and lengthy at times. The author has tried to cram so much into one book that it does falter a little along the way. That said it is a riveting read for the most part and because of the well written characters you find yourself rooting for the underdogs, willing them to succeed. The book is left on a cliffhanger with I'm sure a whole series planned. I can also imagine this would make an amazing film with comparisons to The Lord of the Rings. The book does not really touch on the fighting with the Orcs but that will surely follow in future books. I would certainly read a sequel and would recommend this to all lovers of fantasy. 400 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.