YA Book Prize 2024 shortlist celebrates diverse talent & debut authors

In its 10th anniversary year, the YA Book Prize 2024 shortlist features a diverse array of authors, including six debut writers and established names, such as previously shortlisted Laura Steven, according to thebookseller.com.

Lex Croucher, known for adult fiction, made the list with their YA debut Gwen & Art Are Not in Love (Bloomsbury YA). This queer romance set in Arthurian England explores the unconventional love lives of Gwen, a princess, and Art, a future duke. Shortlisted for the Nero Children’s Award earlier this year, Croucher’s novel follows the pair’s journey as they navigate their feelings and societal expectations.

Penguin Children’s has two contenders: Bea Fitzgerald with Girl, Goddess, Queen and Jenny Ireland with The First Move. Fitzgerald’s novel is a feminist take on the myth of Persephone and Hades, where Persephone seeks to escape an unwanted marriage by descending to the Underworld. Ireland’s debut focuses on Juliet, who has arthritis, and Ronan, a new student, whose paths cross in unexpected ways, starting with an online chess game.

Laura Steven returns to the shortlist with Every Exquisite Thing (Electric Monkey), a Sapphic retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray set at an elite drama school. Steven, who was shortlisted in 2023 for The Society for Soulless Girls, continues to blend dark academia with LGBTQ+ themes. Fellow Electric Monkey author Kate Weston is also shortlisted with Murder on a School Night, a comedic murder mystery involving menstruation products as the murder weapon, centering around teenagers Kerry and Annie.

Three other debut authors round out the shortlist. Anika Hussain’s This Is How You Fall in Love (Hot Key Books) features a fake dating plot between Zara and her best friend Adnan. Josh Silver’s HappyHead (Rock the Boat) is a dystopian thriller about a radical retreat designed to cure teenage unhappiness, while Ravena Guron’s This Book Kills (Usborne) is a gripping YA mystery set in a school where student Jess is embroiled in a murder investigation.

Sally Nicholls’ Yours From the Tower (Andersen Press) offers a historical epistolary novel set in Victorian England, while Benjamin Dean’s How to Die Famous (Simon & Schuster) is a slick thriller about an undercover reporter investigating his brother’s death in the entertainment industry.

The prize’s chair, Katie Fraser, praised the shortlist for showcasing the joy and talent within UK and Irish YA fiction. Notable judges include Alice Oseman, who highlighted the community’s support, Anissa de Gomery from FairyLoot, and book content creator Gavin Hetherington, all expressing excitement about the selection process.

The YA Book Prize, launched by The Bookseller in 2014, celebrates exceptional books for teenagers and young adults. This year’s winner will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 22.

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