Book Love: Top 5 Children’s/Young Adult Series

I just finished re-reading Checkmate by Malorie Blackman (from the Noughts and Crosses series) and it reminded me just how much I still love series from my younger years – they just give me all the feelings!  Obviously these books are particularly special for me because I feel like I’ve known the characters for years, but even so I think they’re brilliant.  In a fit of nostalgia, I thought I’d list my favourite book series from my childhood/teenage years, so I hope you enjoy.

5) The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Surely everyone knows these by now?  They made a film out of the series with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews and, as ever, got a lot of things wrong.  The books are much better than the films, honest.  The quality does start to tail off a bit towards the end of the series, so I’m not sure I ever read the very latest ones, but the first in particular were funny and relatable, and had a good love story going on that was a bit different from the usual – I still love a good romance, but it’s always best when it’s not the main focus.

4) Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

Otherwise known as the ‘Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging’ books (and no I do not accept the adapted title given to the film).  I laughed myself silly at these books when I was a teenager, and probably still would now to be honest.  They were my embarrassing, snorting with uncontrollable laughter on the bus books.  I would need a re-read to do a proper review (not a bad idea actually!), but, in short, these are the diary of teenage Georgia Nicolson, telling us about her bonkers family, friends and school in a hilarious manner.  The comings and goings of her life are occasionally slightly ridiculous, and yet perfectly relatable for a British teenage girl.  From what I remember, they weren’t particularly rude or grownup, just very, very funny.

3) Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Before Hogwarts, every girl wanted to go to Malory Towers.  These were just lovely boarding-school books that take you back a few decades to years of jolly hockey sticks and french irregular verbs.  In true Enid Blyton style, they’re full of moral lessons, but not so much that you feel lectured and certain characters can do no wrong.  This is a lovely, innocent kids series that I still like to have a quick read of when I’m feeling nostalgic.  Timeless.

2) Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Blimey, this is a good story. I wrote a bit of an ode to the first book in the series here when I started my re-read, and I just finished the third one, which still manages to be equally as good.  Have a look at my first review to find out what it’s all about, but I think my favourite thing about this series is the fact that it progresses.  Characters really do grow up and develop, instead of keeping the same traits they have aged 12 at the start of the first book.  I find that the character voice, especially for the teenagers, can be a little off at times, but the story and the character development are absolutely good enough for that not to matter.  I feel like I know these characters inside out and these (along with my number 1) are the books that get me jumping for joy and reaching for the tissues.  Highly recommended for everyone, teenage and up.

1) Harry Potter by JK Rowling

A predictably dull choice, maybe, but I absolutely flipping love Harry Potter.  And I’m not ashamed to say it!  I started reading these books aged 7 and was part of the generation that grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione.  I’m not sure I can say much that hasn’t already been said – I know some people aren’t keen and think they’re overhyped, but you get that with any bestseller.  I still think JK Rowling is a brilliant writer and is especially brilliant at building up a world for her stories to take place in (this is what I loved about The Causal Vacancy too – mini review here).  I can (and do) read these books over and over again.

So that’s it for my favourites – I’d love to hear yours in the comments!  What series did you love when you were younger?  We can have a reminisce together.  Or if you have kids and know of any great newer series, I’d love to know and I can pass them along to my little brother and sister.  Leave your tips below!

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Book Love: Noughts and Crosses, the re-read

Has everyone read Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman?  If you’re in your early twenties and the answer is no, what on earth were you reading instead during your teenage years?

Noughts and Crosses was my absolute favourite book when I was in high school (though it probably did share that spot with Harry Potter) and I’m currently rereading the trilogy.  It is as wonderful as when I first read it.  At least five times as a teenager I finished reading this book in bed in the small hours of the morning, crying under my duvet.

Now, believe it or not, I’m 21 and nothing has changed.  At 1am last week, there I was with tears in my eyes.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

If you’ve never read Noughts and Crosses, especially if you have even the slightest interest in Young Adult fiction, I urge you to go and find a copy immediately.  If you have read it, go and dig it out again – I promise it has aged well.

In case you don’t know, the book is set in an alternate world where black people (Crosses) are in charge and whites (noughts) are, as their name suggests, considered worthless.  It tells the story of Callum and Sephy, a nought and a Cross, who are best friends discovering the difficulties of living in such a divided world and dealing with other people’s prejudices.

I cannot do this book justice with a summary.  It is heartbreaking, emotional, a brilliantly constructed world that can’t fail to draw you in and leave you amazed at the unfairness of it all.  And the scariest part lies in the parallels drawn between that world and ours.

Yes, the situation of black people in the western world has improved tremendously over the last 50 years, but it’s still nowhere near perfect and 1963 really isn’t that long ago.  And deep-seated prejudices are still evident everywhere – they may not be related to race, but the principle is the same.  In my opinion, this book should be compulsory reading for everyone as a teenager, when they’re starting to secure their world view and figure out what they believe.

I’m now halfway through the second book in the series, still as gripped as I was aged 13.  I can’t recommend Noughts and Crosses strongly enough.  Malorie Blackman has done amazing work.  Thank you to her.