BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance

Once in a while, a book comes along that totally blows your mind. The Hate U Give is one of those books and everyone should read it right now. Even better, the author Angie Thomas, is a total sweetheart, absolutely bursting with passion. Here’s our chat – and you should totally check out the full article on BookBrunch – but you should also buy the book.

Angie Thomas has shot to literary stardom in recent months, as her debut novel The Hate U Give, skyrockets to the top of the NYT bestseller charts. Set to be published in 18 territories and counting – and already out here through Walker Books – the YA novel follows 16-year-old Starr, who lives between the poor Mississippi neighbourhood where she was born and a posh high school in the suburbs. When she becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, she comes face to face with police brutality and systemic racism

After the intensity of the book, Thomas herself is a slight surprise: a generous smile, regular laughter, and a soft Mississippi accent. Her passion and conviction shine through, however, and she has much to say on publishing, on the importance of books, and on America itself.

The struggle to write

Though Thomas has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, it took her a long time to believe that being an author was something she could do. “For one, I never saw or met any authors who looked like me. Mississippi has a rich literary history, but most of them are either white or dead and I was neither! So it felt like it was something that I, as a black girl in a poor neighbourhood in Mississippi, just couldn’t do.”

Continue reading BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance

‘Stormchaser’ by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 04.06.24It should be noted that this is not the first time I’ve read Stormchaser.  Over the years, I have probably read this book five or six times from cover to cover.  It’s the first of The Edge Chronicles that I read, though arguably it was not the best place to start:  the Chronicles are divided into an ever-growing series of trilogies, of which this is not the first of any.  In fact, it’s the second in the Twig Trilogy, the first of the trilogies to have been written.

It was bought for me by utter fluke by an aunt and uncle one Christmas, and I’m always grateful for that because it is such a great read.  Twig is a young Sky Pirate, who goes on a quest to find the elusive substance Stormphrax, which is only made in their heart of storms.  Taking the lead of a merry band of academics and sky pirates, he pilots his sky ship, Stormchaser, back to his childhood home, the Deepwoods, in this action-packed YA/children’s adventure. Continue reading ‘Stormchaser’ by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

‘Mockingjay’ – Suzanne Collins

hg3coversmaller-1-568570Named after the hybrid birds which become a symbol of hope and rebellion throughout the trilogy, this last book in The Hunger Games series will not fall short of expectations.

Having destroyed the arena of the 75th Hunger Games, defied the Capitol and escaped, Katniss finds herself as part of the underground community of District 13.  Ruled by President Coin, District 13 is the mysterious last District which was supposedly destroyed by the Capitol when is tried to rebel, the defiant act which caused the instigation of The Hunger Games. Its citizens, however, have learned to live below ground, and now that the other 11 Districts outside the Capitol are rebelling, District 13 has become the backbone of the resistance. Distraught at the fact that Peeta was captured by President Snow at the end of the last games, Katniss is eventually convinced that she must become the ‘Mockingjay’, the symbol around which the rebellion will muster. Followed everywhere by cameras and interviewers and with a retinue including her best friend and possible love-interest Gale Hawthorne, Katniss must learn to fight and be strong despite her misgivings and personal crises. Continue reading ‘Mockingjay’ – Suzanne Collins

‘Catching Fire’ – Suzanne Collins

catching_fire_book_coverThere is always a danger, when you have enjoyed the first book an a series so much, that the sequel is going to be a disappointment.  This was not the case with Catching Fire.  In fact, I would go so far as to say I enjoyed it even more than The Hunger Games.

Having beat the system in the 74th annual Hunger Games of Panem, Katniss Everdeen has returned to District 12 with her fellow victor, Peeta Mellark.  Living in the Victor’s Village, they barely talk to each other, and Katniss has returned to hunting daily with her best friend Gale Hawthorne, outside the boundaries of District 12.  However, as Katniss and Peeta’s Victory Tour commences, President Snow, leader of the overruling Capitol, pays Katniss a threatening visit.  With the lives of her family and friends in danger, Katniss becomes the centre of a political storm brewing across Panem.  Seen as a symbol of rebellion, she is thrown back into The Hunger Games for their 75th year, along with her fellow competitors, all previous victors themselves. Continue reading ‘Catching Fire’ – Suzanne Collins

‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

The-Hunger-Games-BookThe Hunger Games first came to me during a night of persistent insomnia which I hoped to dispel by reading some charming YA fiction with a predictable love-triangle and the safe knowledge that the good guys would win. Alas, I was awake until gone five in the morning because The Hunger Games is brilliant. I read the whole trilogy over about 48 hours flat, completely gripped by the story and the world.

The novel is set in the post-apocalyptic nation Panem, divided into twelve Districts, of which the first, The Capitol, is in control, and is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen. This first book in the trilogy tracks Katniss’ progress through The Hunger Games, an annual televised death-games involving children aged 12-18, one male and one female, selected at random from each of the twelve Districts. Ultimately, of course, we know Katniss is going to win, or the next two books in the trilogy would be somewhat void, but this doesn’t interfere with the drama of the plot. In order to pander the the Captiol audience’s whims, Katniss strikes up a pretend relationship with the male competitor from her District, Peeta Mellark. As the games continue, the force of their supposed relationship takes on a significance of its own in the outside world and by the end of the book, Katniss has undertaken actions which potentially make her a dangerous opponent to the power of the Capitol. Continue reading ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo

shadow-and-bone_hi-resThis book made me want to fall in love. Shadow and Bone, for all that it is a fairytale in the darkest sense, reaches out to something soft and hopefully romantic that Young Adult readers will be able to identify with – and which adult readers might enjoy rekindling too!

Part one of Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone follows the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan in the fantasy country of Ravka. When the life of Alina’s childhood friend Mal is put in danger, she saves him by unleashing a unique gift she didn’t know she had. Because of this gift, she is taken into the fold of the beautiful and powerful Grisha. Caught between their leader, the terrifying but magnetically seductive Darkling, and her loyalty to Mal, Alina begins to realise she is surrounded by lies. As she becomes more and more compromised by her feelings, her powers draw her into a dangerous political game, the results of which could tear the world apart. Continue reading ‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo