Quick book picks for June

Only a few books this month, mostly a very modern and relevant selection, as well as one mostly set in flashback in the nineties. They all look at some intense situations in different ways and styles, making them engrossing reads for ignoring the sun/World Cup/anything else.

  • Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton – An emphatic recommendation for anyone who likes literary thrillers like American Psycho or The Talented Mr Ripley, but wishes they were more female-led and up to date. Social Creature presents a New York millenial hell as Louise is pulled into the money- and party- filled world of Lavinia and then things start to go wrong.
  • Promising Young Women by Caroline O’Donoghue – Another one this month exposing the modern world, as the London workplace is dissected and its effects upon mental health and upholding a male-dominated culture are shown through Jane’s sudden promotion at an advertising job.
  • Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla – This is a young adult book that tells the story of twins Taran and Hari and their fight to expose the injustice in the system that is putting them, their friends, and the tower block they call home at risk. It is like a British version of The Hate U Give, showing that YA fiction can highlight racism, gentrification, and police corruption sometimes more powerfully than novels aimed at adults.
  • A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better by Benjamin Wood – A distinctively written novel that tells the story of trauma and how it continues to affect an individual, as Daniel looks back on the violence of his father during an erratic road trip.

Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla

Run, Riot is a fast-paced and tense YA novel about community, gentrification, and fighting to expose the system. Taran and her twin brother Hari live in Firestone House, a tower block near the centre of the city. It wasn’t where they would’ve chosen to live, but they have friends there and a life. When Hari gets caught up in police violence, the twins and their friends Jamal and Anna find themselves on the run in their own home, in a race to uncover what is really happening to Firestone House and how far the corruption really goes.

The novel is structured predominantly around one night with some flashbacks, which gives it an electrifying atmosphere as the reader is drawn into the world of Firestone House and the frantic anger and fear of the main characters. Shukla has created a gripping bunch of characters, particularly Taran who is chasing her dream of being an MC whilst her brother dreams of leaving the area for the potential jobs of London.

Run, Riot is for fans of books like The Hate U Give who would like a novel set in England, exposing racism, gentrification, and police brutality closer to home for British readers. It is also for anyone who is looking for a carefully-paced YA novel with characters who feel alive and varied, whilst also angry and learning how to effectively fight for themselves and their community.