Every time I write this round-up there is always one book that has me so smitten I forget I'm an adult and wake up, only at the end, to remember.

A Song For Ella Grey (Hodder Children's, £12,99), written by David Almond, author of Skellig, is that kind of young adult book: so spell-binding it's almost impossible to resist, as one reads its breathless, intoxicating prose.

Almond has written a version of the Orpheus myth based on Tyneside, in the present, with teenagers who like to hang out together in the town, but also head out to the beaches to camp and party and drink and sing at the sea, and declare Northumberland to be Greece.

There, on Bamburgh beach, the central character, Claire, meets Orpheus, a guy with a lyre, who seems to sing the seals, the birds, and most humans under his spell, and who soon begins to charm Claire's friend Ella, a schoolgirl Eurydice. What's startling about this novel is it isn't just that we have some character loosely based on Orpheus, or that it's just a fabulous examination of what music might mean to youth; it goes the full stretch, telling the entire myth, complete with adders in the grass, and a descent into the underworld via gates on the river Ouseburn, and Orpheus's eventual death, torn apart by Maenads. It's hard not to think of Almond as a modern-day Orpheus who has hypnotically sung the myth back to life yet another time. His books seem to exist in their own otherworldly universe, outside all the trends in modern publishing, yet resolutely of the now.

Meanwhile, there are trends this autumn. Boys, particularly those around eight to 10-years-old, are being lured in with laughs. Following the phenomenal literary success of David Walliams as a modern-day Roald Dahl, David Baddiel is the latest to try his hand at delivering a gag-filled tale, but he doesn't quite pull off the magic. While the premise of The Parent Agency (Harper Collins, £12.99) seems promising - fed up with his awful parents a boy is transported to a world in which kids can pick their own mums and dads - it trips up at the start as nine-year-old Barry just seems a bit of a whinger, whose parents aren't nearly horrible enough to merit his gripes. Better to go for the guaranteed laughs of authors who have been churning out boy comedy in recent years, with the latest from children's comedian James Campbell, Boy Face And The Tartan Badger (Hodder Children's, £5.99), or the return of Stephen Pastis's hilarious kid detective in Timmy Failure: We Meet Again (Walker, £8.99).

We couldn't have had this centenary year without another masterpiece of war fiction from Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse. Always he deals less with main theatre of war, and the soldiers themselves, than the civilians, animals, children, all those caught in the violence and aftershock. Listen To The Moon (Harper Collins, £12.99) is about the sinking of the Lusitania, at the time the greatest civilian disaster in war-time. It was prompted by a news report of a piano from the Lusitania that was found floating in the water with a child clinging to it. But it begins as a tale of a small fishing community in the Scilly Isles, and a girl whom they find roaming a small deserted island on one of their fishing trips. And it is touched with Morpurgo's characteristic sense of the possibility of reconciliation and human connection even in the worst of times.

With Laurie Halse Anderson you know that you will probably be heading into some tough teen territory - Speak featured a girl gone mute after a sexual assault, Wintergirls, bulimia and anorexia. In The Impossible Knife Of Memory (Scholastic, £7.99), Anderson explores the way war sends its emotional bombs back home in the form of post traumatic stress disorder. Yet it is funny, witty, alarming, charmingly romantic, and also rather shocking, as it follows Hayley, who lost her mother when she was a toddler, and ended up being dragged around America by her trucker father, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. Trauma, this book is saying, spreads.

The way violence touches teen lives is explored by two teen thrillers. Master of this form, Tim Bowler is back with Night Runner (Oxford University Press, £6.99), and it's as pacy and taut as one might expect. In the course of a few early chapters Zinny witnesses his home being broken into, his mother shot, and is pursued constantly by sinister crime figures, including a guy he calls Flash Coat. He "can't bear the sight" of his dad and still doesn't know why he loves him. "Maybe it's because of his good days, but they don't come round so often now," he considers. Readable, relentless, edge-of-the-seat drama.

Benjamin Zephaniah's first novel in seven years is also a nail-biter, but one with a controversial edge. Terror Kid (Hot Key, £6.99), while being mostly a gripping tale of a naive teen on the run, explores the way young people are blamed and criminalised and questions some of the myths generated around terror events. Rico Federico is a boy who tries not to get in to trouble. He's not out looting the night the 2011 riots hit Birmingham, yet he gets picked up. He's idealistic, and politicised and angry at the police. He rejects street protest in favour of hacktivism, but finds himself manipulated by a man who wants to do more than play with the police computer system: he wants to put a bomb in the station. It's a book that smarts with injustice at the assumptions made about the young, and also questions how radicalisation happens.