Book Review: Begin End Begin

Genre: YA
Publisher: Harper Collins

Once upon a time, adults caught reading YA (aka ‘young adult’) fiction faced an abundance of eye rolling and insults about our maturity. Articles abounded that we were dumbing ourselves down, trading literature for oversimplified drivel. But anyone who has ever read YA fiction knows just how intellectual, controversial, thought-provoking and incredibly written the genre can be. Perhaps once, YA was the home of cutesy stories with no real grasp on how the world works, but modern YA has a habit of exploring subject matter that even adult literature hesitates to acknowledge.

While the big names like J.K Rowling and John Green get a lot of attention, Australia is home to an incredible gathering of YA writers, and the #loveozya hashtag has become a global reminder that the land down under punches well above its weight when it comes to compelling, evocative storytelling.

In the spirit of celebrating Australia’s thriving YA community and showcasing its authors, ‘Begin, End, Begin.’ was born. In fact, it works just as well as an introduction to the beauty and bite of modern YA, and as a masterlist of must-read Aussie authors. This is an anthology that doesn’t hold back or mince words, the sort to throw itself into the fray with a Buffy Summers-esque quip and a beaming grin.

Increasingly, the best and bravest fiction wears a YA label, and ‘Begin, End, Begin’ is a powerhouse example of why this is. This is an anthology rife with contemplations and questionings, dancing across the tightrope between meaningful meditations on the important things in life, and visceral, emotionally-engrossing fiction you can’t stand to put down. The characters hit too close to home at times, with the sort of relatability that makes them impossible not to love and want to see flourish.

If you’ve ever assumed that YA is poorly disguised life advice, or sanctimonious posturing from adults towards the new generations, you need to read ‘Begin, End, Begin’. There’s no moralising here, no moments that feel like you’re being settled in for some ‘facts of life’ styled conversations. Instead, this is an anthology filled with stories masterfully told, populated by worlds both fantastic and deeply familiar; the sorts of worlds you’ll want to see more from. If you love your reading time filled with intense action, honesty, integrity, and empowerment, you’re going to love ‘Begin, End, Begin.’

‘Begin, End, Begin’ is published by Harper Collins, and is available at all good booksellers.

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review by Kylie Thompson

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