Recommended YA books and news for October

It’s one of the biggest months of the year with so many fantastic new releases, including an extraordinary new novel by the author of Wonder, a novel about climate change activism by Australian author Mark Smith, a feminist reimagining of The Outsiders, and a debut YA fantasy title from bestselling author C.S. Pacat.

For our round-up of children’s titles this month take a look here.



Pony by R.J. Palacio

When Silas Bird wakes in the dead of night, he watches powerlessly as three strangers take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool … who happens to be a ghost. But then a mysterious pony shows up at his door, and Silas knows what he has to do.

So begins a perilous journey to find his father - a journey that will connect him with his past, his future, and the unknowable world around him.

Pony is destined to become a future classic for readers aged 9 and up. You can read our full review here.



If Not Us by Mark Smith

Hesse lives a small coastal town, where a coalmine and power station are a part of the scenery, and a part of the ever-growing problem of climate change. His mum is a member of a local environmental group campaigning to close the mine and shut down the power station. It’s a no-brainer, of course, but Hesse is more interested in surfing-and in Fenna, the new exchange student from the Netherlands.

Even though he’s reluctant to step into the spotlight, with Fenna’s encouragement he decides it’s time to make a stand. Because some things are too important to leave to everyone else. And even one small, nervous voice can make a difference. If Not Us will inspire and empower readers aged 12 and up. Read our review here.


Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat

The ancient world of magic is no more. Its heroes are dead, its halls are ruins, and its great battles between Light and Dark are forgotten. Only the Stewards remember. For centuries they have kept vigil, sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns.

Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run in London, pursued by the men who killed his mother. When an old servant urges him to seek out the Stewards, Will is ushered into a secret world, where he must train to fight for the Light in the oncoming war.

As the Dark King’s return looms, reborn warriors begin to draw battle lines. Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the calamity that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.

Dark Rise is the first book in a thrilling new YA fantasy series from bestselling Australian author C.S. Pacat for readers aged 14 and up. Read our review here.


Bad Girls Never Say Die by Jennifer Mathieu

Houston, Texas. 1964. Evie Barnes is a ‘bad’ girl. So are all her friends. They’re the sort who wear bold makeup, laugh too loud and run around with boys. Most of all, they protect their own against the world.

So when Evie is saved from being assaulted by a good girl from the right side of the tracks, every rule she’s always lived by is called into question. Now she must rethink everything she knew about loyalty and learn that when girls stick together it doesn’t matter whether they’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

In this riveting story of murder, secrets, and tragedy, Jennifer Mathieu reimagines S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders from a female perspective. Bad Girls Never Say Die has all the drama and heartache of that teen classic, but with a feminist take just right for our times. For readers aged 13 and up. Read my full review here.


The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni

Kiva Meridan is a survivor. Not only did she survive Zalindov Prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now, Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance.

As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov - her siblings and their beliefs have changed, too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.

Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.

The exciting sequel to The Prison Healer is perfect for readers aged 14 and up.


Self/Less by AViVA

Seventeen-year-old Teddy lives in the walled-in city Metropolis. Radical laws condemn all forms of self-expression and creativity, and the lives of the people are carefully constructed and controlled by the City Council: We watch because we care.

When Teddy finds out the truth behind one of the City’s biggest lies, she slips out into the darkness of the City after curfew. She is captured by a stranger and held prisoner in an old bomb shelter that lies beneath the City. Here, Teddy discovers that there is a world beneath Metropolis, a world where a growing web of clans are fighting to keep their humanity alive, and waiting for a leader to unite them and lead them back up into the light.

Suitable for ages 12 and up. Read our review here.

Other exciting releases this month include a new fantasy story from Caravel author, Stephanie Garber, and a co-written novel from bestselling American authors, David Levithan and Jennifer Niven.


  • Readings will be launching the third and final book in the Aurora Rising series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff in November. You can find more details and book your place here and pre-order Aurora’s End here.
  • Two of our Teen Advisory Board members recently put together a guide to the novels of Leigh Bardugo - a fun and very helpful reference for the uninitiated and those already familiar with the Grishaverse. You can read it here.
  • The Melbourne Writers Festival has relaunched its First Nations program online, free of charge, right here.
  • Award-winning author, Hannah Kent, will be talking with Readings own Mark Rubbo about her career and her latest novel on October 27. You can book a ticket here.
 Special price Read review


R. J. Palacio

$22.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...