Caroline Carpenter, The Bookseller's web editor and one of the panel of judges said: "We’re delighted to share this year’s YA10, showcasing the breadth and brilliance of YA publishing in the UK and Ireland today. Among the submissions, we saw three main trends: books about teenagers struggling with their mental health, books set in or around water, and books increasingly concerned with borders. These timely themes reflect some of the biggest issues facing not just young people, but also society in general at the moment, and they are all represented on the shortlist in some way. I’m excited to see which book the judges select as their victor.”
In this dystopian near-future, the English Coalition has microchipped all inhabitants to monitor their every move and stop them breaching the Trump-like wall built at the border with independent Scotland...Gripping, action-packed, but with moments of tenderness, Shaw’s first YA novel tackles contemporary issues, balancing them with timeless themes of love, loyalty and freedom.
Shaw writes well, and there are some memorable passages, not least when the children try living underground in London for a while. There they explore disused tube stations while keeping a look out for other potentially dangerous occupants. But the author never quite explains why everything has gone so wrong. Why are the new state orphanages so very punitive, given that most of the other adults in this story still seem sane enough, apart from the dreaded ‘Hubbers’ manning the ever-present spying systems? And having the children finally bring down a tyrannous government in addition to making it over the border is surely taking several steps too far. Yet if the final version is both too long and too unlikely, there are still some excellent moments from a writer worth keeping a respectful eye on in the future.