It’s winter and it’s cold and there’s a pandemic raging. If you, like me, would rather stay inside and nest underneath a fort of fluffy blankets, it helps to be entertained.
I have been stocking up on ebooks and more recently, placing orders for the paperbacks I just have to own. (I just finished My Dark Vanessa and wow – just wow). I also have a book that just came out, but it feels wrong to promote it without mentioning the other amazing local YA titles available to read. Besides, who buys just one book?
So here is a list of South African YA fiction that you can read right this very minute and a few you should definitely pre-order.
A Slip in Time: Time Mavericks – Book 1 by Fiona Snyckers
Jasmine Bear has one goal in life – to stay out of trouble until she turns eighteen so she can be released from the California foster care system and start living life on her own terms. This does not include being kidnapped by a secretive couple calling themselves the Controllers. They recruit Jasmine to save the world, but what if she wants to save herself first? Book 2 available now.
Tata sikuxolele by Thembisile Kundlwana
Sanlam Gold Winner. Twins Silinda and Sinekusasa go to live with their uncle and his family after the passing of their mother. They are treated terribly and decide to travel to find their father. When he turns them away, Mrs Jali adopts them and puts them through school. The focus of this story is the abuse of orphans by their relatives. It is also a motivational story that illustrates how working hard and being resilient can help one to succeed. (IsiXhosa)
Toring van Jasmyn by Derick van der Walt
Sanlam Gold Winner and nominated for the M.E.R Prize. Markus Combrink travels to Istanbul with his father, sister, and friend Neil, who moves in with them after the death of his parents. While their dad goes about his business, the three teenagers explore the city and befriend two local teens. But the city is restless: Bombs go off and Markus’ sister disappears. Immersed in the culture and getting to know the people and everyday life in Turkey, this will be the most unexpected trip of their lives! (Afrikaans)
The Choice Between Us by Edyth Bulbring
Nominated for the M.E.R Prize. It is Johannesburg 1963 and Nelson Mandela is on trial for his life. Nine-year-old Margaret Channing-Court unwittingly attracts the attention of the security police to her home. Forced to make a choice, she watches helplessly as her family is destroyed. More than fifty years later, Jenna Moore, a troubled fifteen-year-old, is packing up her Aunt C-C’s Johannesburg house. She prises open a locked drawer and finds an old letter addressed to her aunt. One of a few words stands out clearly: MURDERER.
Brand by Fanie Viljoen
Nominated for the M.E.R Prize. Arian and Estie are in Grade 11 in the same school. Estie befriends Arian on social media and starts to stalk him: online, at first, and then in reality. At first he is nothing more to her than an interesting stranger, but by watching him, Estie learns more about him than he’d want anyone to know.
Sindikaat by Annerle Barnard
Sanlam Silver winner. Sixteen-year-old Paul is a witness in a sensitive court case. While visiting a friend he discovers illegal smuggling goods and when he is found out, the smugglers make his life very difficult. Paul’s father is worried and sends him and two friends on holiday to Botswana and Zimbabwe, accompanied by Bossie, his dad’s recce friend. But the gang is in pursuit and their holiday becomes a nightmare flight. (Afrikaans)
Sing Down the Stars by Nerine Dorman
Sanlam Gold Winner and Nommo nominated. In a future society where various alien races mix with humans, twelve-year-old Nuri performs crimes for Vadith until the day she is called away from her home in the slums by an irresistible song only she can hear. Nuri ends up in a secret training facility with the cream of Terra’s youth, who are all competing for the ultimate prize . . .
U Kondelela by Mbedzi Nyelisani
Sanlam Silver winner. When Lion dies Maemu takes up the throne and does a good job. He gains the trust of the animals. Lion’s son (Nemashango) returns in the hope of taking the throne. Sankambe and Ndou are introduced as friends that are up to no good, particularly Sankambe who is involved in shady dealings constantly. They are banished from Dzimaule for plotting to kill Maemu. But Nemashango shocks all the animals by being submissive to Maemu’s rule and instruction. (Tshivenda)
The Music Box by Toby Bennett
Sanlam Silver winner. Johnathan has an uncanny ability to fix things, almost anything, except his very religious and very erratic mother. As his mother’s episodes become more worrisome, he sets out to his hiding space in a magical cave, while making a new friend from a group of gypsies passing through his sleepy town. The arrival of a stranger sets off a chain of events that leads John and his new friend Lu into a magical dimension that reveals his family secrets.
Sea Star Summer by Sally Partridge (aka me)
All sixteen-year-old Naomi wants to do over December is read books and avoid other people. Jeffreys Bay promises the perfect drama-free holiday. But when she encounters the strange and imaginative Elize on the beach, everything changes. Elize, however, isn’t the first to notice the awkward, red-haired newcomer and soon Naomi finds herself caught between a blue-eyed local surfer and Elize’s dark and mysterious brother. But what if Naomi is drawn to someone altogether different…
Lang pad onnetoe by Jason Reynolds, translated by Nathan Trantraal
You only have sixty nail biting seconds to make the most important decision of your life. Will is fifteen years old. He has a gun. His brother Shawn had just been killed. And Will knows the rules. You’re not crying. You don’t carry stories. You take revenge. This is where Will is heading, The novel was translated into Afrikaans by the award-winning author and poet Nathan Trantraal. (Afrikaans)
The Wickerlight by Mary Watson
While we all eagerly await Mary’s new book, there’s still plenty of time to delve into her gorgeous magical duo.
Zara’s family moved to Kilshamble for a new beginning. But everything changed the night her sister was found dead on the village green. Two months later, Laila’s death is a riddle that nobody wants solved. Where were her injuries? Why was she so obsessed with local folklore? And what does all this have to do with David, the boy who lives at the big house? The Wickerlight follows on from The Wren Hunt.
Water Birds on the Lake Shore: An Anthology of African Young Adult Fiction edited by Zukiswa Wanner
Between September 1st 2018 through November 30th 2018 young writers from all over Africa were encouraged to send in their submissions of short stories for the Afro Young Adult initiative, whose goal it is to increase the availability for African Young Adult literature. This is the stunning anthology.
Die vlerke van naaldekokers by Cecilia Steyn
The accident tore apart Kylie’s life. She lost her left hand and her younger sister, Lieke, is gone forever. An unplanned road trip with her eccentric grandfather and his young assistant is Kylie’s chance to escape. And maybe this is her opportunity to do something for Lieke, to mark a few things on her sister’s bucket list. It will be a vacation that Kylie will never forget. A journey back to herself, to healing. (Afrikaans)
Night of the Red Moon by Bontle Senne
Book four in this highly-entertaining adventure series for kids. It’s a race against time for the Shadow Chasers. Led by the General, an army of monsters is intent on destroying this world. The Shadow Chasers have discovered that if they defeat the General on the Night of the Red Moon, her army will sleep forever. Books 1, 2 and 3 also available.
Kwezi: Collector’s Edition 4 – Issues 10 – 12 by Loyiso Mkize, Clyde Beech and Mohale Mashigo
Mpisi has been working very hard to create an “anti-Super” campaign, while our team of heroes have been saving lives and helping Mamadou find his family. A show-down in the desert plus new supers are a mere distraction from what’s actually happening in the pit. Mohao finally sees the prophecy of his people come true but realises that the story may have been distorted. Is our team ready for “anti-Super” sentiments, new bad guys and a prophecy come true? (Graphic novel)
Onderwêreld 2: Donker Web by Fanie Viljoen
The long-awaited sequel to Onderwêreld is coming next month!!!
Greg Owen, former head boy of the elite private boys’ school Lawson College and cyberhacker of note, is a first-year Matie after the year in which his family’s life falls apart. His father and Dok Pienaar are unmasked as the Baker and Candlestick Maker of Project Nursery Rhyme and are behind bars. But who and where is the Butcher? Greg will not be able to rest until the third member of the unscrupulous triumph goes to the pen. If you want revenge, you have to dig two graves. Release date: 15 June (Afrikaans)
Bones Like Bridges by Cat Hellisen
I can’t wait for this new lush fantasy/YA crossover by one of my favourite fantasy writers.
War is coming to Oreyn. Magic is vanishing. Neither problem matters much to Jek until he is pulled out of the slums and forced into the world of the Great Houses. A bastard heir to a dying magical family, Jek is caught up in the scheming of his half-sisters, who see him as the proof of their father’s betrayal. He’s powerless, out of place, and has no-one he can trust. Jek’s scramble to make a home for himself in a world that will never accept him takes a strange turn when he finds himself drawn to one of the forbidden low-caste vampires, and the illegal magic they carry in their blood. Release date: 30 June
That should keep you busy for a while.
So stock up, snuggle up, and escape the panic for a little while. Reading is certainly helping me manage my stress. If I missed any local YA that’s new or relatively newish and currently available, get in touch.