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Back in the Habit: 12 books that will get high-schoolers reading again

The school year began almost a month, and with so much time and energy going towards new subjects, new schools, new friends AND all the extra-curricular commitments that teens have on these days, it’s not hard for their attention to move away from reading for pleasure.

Sometimes, all you need is the perfect book to kick-start the habit once more. Below are 12 books that we think are the funniest, most thrilling, and the most down-right entertaining books. Many of these have been tried and tested by booksellers around the country and make up permanent spots on their bookstore shelves.

Keeper – Mal Peet

Paul Faustino is interviewing the world’s greatest goalkeeper: the man they call El Gato ” the Cat”. The World Cup stands on the table between them. In the hours that follow, El Gato tells his incredible story – how he, a poor logger’s son, learns to become a World Cup-winning goalkeeper so good he is almost unbeatable. And the most remarkable part of this story is the man who teaches him: the mysterious Keeper, who haunts a football pitch at the heart of the claustrophobic rainforest. (Ages 12+)

The Intern – Gabrielle Tozer

Josie Browning dreams of having it all.

A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism – and for her current crush to realize she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash.

A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson. (Ages 12+)

Boy Nobody: The Hit – Alan Zadoff

The explosive new thriller for fans of Jason Bourne, Robert Muchamore and Michael Grant.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.

Utterly gripping and full of moral complexities that will challenge today’s teenagers, this is the start of a brilliant trilogy! (Ages 13+)

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair anymore – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life. (Ages 14+)

Don’t Call Me Ishmael – Michael Gerard Bauer

With a name like Ishmael Leseur, one can imagine the amount of teasing the 14-year-old endures. His response is to try to make himself invisible so he can lessen the amount of sadistic bullying for which he’s the target. Then along comes a strange new classmate—James Scobie, who is exceedingly bright yet frail. Ishmael ashamedly rejoices in the thought that he’ll no longer be the number-one target now that the slightly offbeat James has arrived. The combination of insults about Melville, great characters, humour, intelligence and the honest portrayal of bullying makes for a fantastic, all-encompassing read.

Tomorrow, When the War Began – John Marsden

The first book in this classic and phenomenally popular Australian series still packs a solid punch.

This book is the story of seven teenagers and how they make the change from normal people to ones fighting to save everything they have ever known. They change, adapt, survive and fight back for their home. This is the tale about how they hoped to make a difference, to be free once again.  This book will take you on a heart- warming, adrenaline-packed journey of war, love, life, friends and family!

Shift – Em Bailey

Olive is not crazy – although there was that incident last year and that spell in the psych ward, but now she’s taking her meds and staying away from the toxic ‘in’ crowd. But when new girl Miranda turns up, Olive knows that there is something very dangerous about her, even if everyone else doesn’t. But who will believe her, when everyone probably thinks she’s crazy anyway? That is, everyone except her best friend, Ami, whom her mother disapproves of for some strange reason. But all is not what it seems in this page-turning thriller and there are twists and turns that you just cannot predict.

The Silent Invasion – James Bradley

The first book in a heart-stopping and suspenseful YA trilogy from award-winning author James Bradley. It’s 2027 and the human race is dying. Plants, animals and humans have been infected by spores from space and become part of a vast alien intelligence.

When 16-year-old Callie discovers her little sister Gracie has been infected, she flees with Gracie to the Zone to avoid termination by the ruthless officers of Quarantine. What Callie finds in the Zone will alter her irrevocably, and send her on a journey to the stars and beyond. (Ages 13+)

Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution. (Ages 14+)

One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little LiarsOne of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. Guaranteed to keep readers hooked right up until the final page! (14+)

Summoner: The Novice – Taran Matharu

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through gruelling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help. This is the perfect book to guide teen readers into the world of epic fantasy! (Ages 11+)

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

Harriet Manners is an accident-prone geek.  She thinks in statistics, hates shopping, and at 14-years-old still hides under furniture whenever she wants to disappear. She is an only child with a stepmother who is a lawyer and a father who is big in advertising, but it is hard to gauge as to who is the parent, and who the child.  It is clever, full of humour and deeply moving. Romance is interwoven in the well-crafted storyline with entertaining bohemian characters in the cast. Geek Girl shouts that people should be who they are, have self-belief, and feel comfortable with being different. (Ages 11+)


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