This might end up being the Best Book of the Year for me (it came out last year but I didn't find it until this year -- thanks, Goodreads, for the suggestion!).
I can't even tell you all the reasons why it is so good. I'm going to try to pin a few of them down, like butterflies under glass.
Here's the synopsis, from Tim Wynne-Jones' page:
"Two street kids get tangled in a plot over their heads — and risk an
unexpected connection — in this heart-pounding thriller by Tim
Wynne-Jones...charged with suspense and intrigue, this taut novel trails
two deeply compelling characters as they forge a blackmail scheme that
is foolhardy at best, disastrous at worst — along with a fated, tender
partnership that will offer them each a rare chance for redemption."
As you can see, it's not even close to my preferred genres -- fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, re-imaginings, etc.
But it is incredible.
Don't go read the whole blurb, it contains spoilers.
Here, then, are the Top 5 Reasons I Adore This Book:
1. It's written in a weird first-person-second-person-inside-a-person way -- usually this would be difficult (if not impossible) to pull off. But Tim Wynne-Jones is a master. It unsettles you at first because no one else writes like this (that I know of), but it draws you inside in a way that not many other books can.
2. Regular YA fiction of this sort usually ends badly. For everyone. Life is messy. Blah, blah, blah. We know (think almost every indie movie you've ever seen). But THIS book -- THIS book actually shows that people can change. For the better. Life can get better. And sometimes, it does.
3. Redemption is the main theme, and it is one of my favorite themes of all time.
4. The most beautiful non-sex-yet-intimate scene I've ever read.
5. The characters are complex (even the side characters) -- in a beautiful, broken way.
This is one of those books that I instantly want to read over again, even though I know I can't capture the magic of that first time again. It's a book I'll buy in paperback and read til the cover falls off. It's one I'll gab about for hours whenever someone mentions the word 'book'. And it's one that will serve as a brilliant bulb of inspiration as I try to create my own stories.
...You should go read this book.