The Best YA You Haven’t Read (Yet) – Vivian Versus the Apocalypse

Look at that beautiful cover.

This is the first post in a series: The Best YA You Haven’t Read (Yet)

I found out about Vivian Versus the Apocalypse (Katie Coyle’s debut) via a chance post on tumblr that found its way onto my dashboard, and I’m very, very glad I did. I assumed when I first heard about the book – and even more so after I read it – that it was destined to become one of Those YA Books. You know the ones. The ones that crop up in every YA conversation and take one of the top spots on Best Of lists.

It’s strange to me that this hasn’t happened, because Vivian is a brilliant book. In a market as busy and varied as YA, it’s hard to find books that have a truly original premise. Vivian, which features the eponymous teenage heroine facing a world seemingly in the grips of a religious apocalypse, is startlingly original. Yes, end of the world scenarios have been done to death, but I tell you what. They haven’t been done like this.

Vivian features all the expected components of an apocalypse story: there’s the left behind lot bandied together and struggling to survive; sudden and jarring acts of violence and murder; strange weather occurrences; the yes-the-world-is-ending-but-I-still-want-to-kiss-you subplot (emphasis on subplot, thank the storytelling gods); and the cross-country journey for against-the-odds answers.

But here’s what else Vivian has: brilliant secondary characters (Harp!), amazing Rapture/capitalist/Bible puns (“Lot’s jeans. Go ahead, turn around” made me laugh out loud in an airport), Doctor Who references, thoughtful but not invasive questions about religion and capitalism, a sledgehammer-wielding protagonist and the kind of opening chapter that makes you want to grab the person nearest to you and shout “ZOMG!” in their face.

I suspect that the reason Vivian is still relatively under the radar is because it hasn’t yet been released in the US. When that happens – January 2015, I believe, with the new title Vivian Apple at the End of the World – I’m sure it will indeed become one of Those YA Books. How can it not?

If I’ve convinced you (and if I haven’t, what else do you want?!), you can find your own copy by clicking right here on this link.


The Best YA You Haven’t Read (Yet)

YA has become big blogging business recently, after incidents like That Slate Piece, Caitlin Moran’s ill-judged comments on girls in YA and the release of the TFIOS movie that spawned a hundred think pieces. On balance, these kinds of articles can only be good for YA. For every comment that suggests YA fiction is somehow unworthy or lesser than “real” fiction (answers on a postcard as to what that even means), there are a hundred readers, writers and general enthusiasts to point out why this is clearly not the case.

The best way to do this is usually to name books. Books that are the shining stars of YA; the bestsellers and award-winners; the books that make you sputter a recommendation with breathless, evangelical zeal. The same titles tend to come up again and again: We Were Liars. The Hunger Games. Code Name Verity. Eleanor and Park. The Fault in our Stars. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. There’s good reason for this, and that is that they are all brilliant books. But they’re not the only brilliant books.

So, with the aforementioned evangelical zeal, I’ve picked a handful of my very favourite YA novels over the last few years that I think deserve more readers, more praise and more nods in Top 10 lists. To avoid this post getting too long, I’ll put them up individually over the next few weeks and add the links below.

Do let me know if there are any YA books you think fly too low under the radar. I’m always more than happy to add to my tottering to-read pile.

1) Vivian Versus the Apocalypse , Katie Coyle (Hot Key Books, 2013)

2) Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey, 2013)