Having summer fun’s not hard when you’ve got more awesome new releases than there are flavors of Pop-Ice. So rip open a Tropical Punch and exercise your pre-order muscles with July YA including a moving mental illness narrative with a sci-fi twist, a monstrous new fantasy series from the pen of Victoria “instabuy” Schwab, and a twisty ballet-world thriller. I won’t judge you if you skip the hose and fill your kiddie pool with books.
The Memory Book, by Lara Avery (July 5)
This book will strap you inside a Gravitron of feels and hold you there until you stumble away from the final page using your tank top as a Kleenex. Sammie McCoy is a brilliant, ambitious student who can’t wait to leave her rural hometown behind to start a new life at NYU. When she’s diagnosed with late onset Niemann-Pick, an Alzheimer’s-like condition, she’s determined to muscle through it, make valedictorian, and head victorious to college in the fall. So she starts writing a memory book, a series of letters to her future self meant to work as a second brain for when her own fails her. In it she records conversation with her parents, first dates with her longtime crush, imagined futures for her three younger siblings—and the rekindling of her relationship with Coop, the childhood friend who ditched her for popularity way back in junior high. As her mind deteriorates, she learns to love every minute of her life now, instead of just the ones to come. Avery fits so much love and life into this memory book that I’m actually tearing up right now recalling it. Read this book.
This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab (July 5)
After giving everyone and their mother all the magical feels with 2015’s adult title, A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab returns to YA with the first installment of her new Monsters of Verity series. Verity is a city teeming with monsters that are born of human violence, but very, very real, subsisting on bones and blood and human souls. Kate, a crime lord’s daughter, and August, a monster in human form, become unlikely allies on the run after he becomes her protector, and she discovers his secret.
Defending Taylor, by Miranda Kenneally (July 5)
High-achieving athlete and senator’s daughter Taylor has always lived a life beyond reproach, until a snap decision to take the fall for her boyfriend jeopardizes everything she has worked for. Expelled from prep school, she fights to regain her status, her dad’s trust, and her path to the Ivy league—while testing a tentative new connection with a childhood friend, and trying to figure out whether she still wants what she always thought she did.
Learning to Swear in America, by Katie Kennedy (July 5)
Yuri is a 17-year-old Russian physicist whose precocious brilliance earned him a seat at the table of a NASA crack team assembled to save earth from an incoming asteroid. But his age means nobody will take him seriously, even though he’s pretty sure he can help them avert a global catastrophe. Then he meets Dovie, a “normal” teen girl who knows nothing about the impending doom—and the more time they spend together, the more Yuri understands what’s really at stake.
Remix, by Non Pratt (July 5)
Nursing recent heartbreak, best friends Ruby and Kaz head to Remix, a music festival that promises to take their minds off the troubles—academic, romantic, and familial—that plague them. Over the course of three days, the two deal with exes, new friends, unexpected attention, and more, threats that hint at life changes to come and test their powerful bond. Pratt renders the festival, from the music to its intense but momentary connections, in vibrant detail.
Mirage, by Tracy Clark (July 5)
Ryan Sharpe is the thrill-seeking daughter of a former soldier with PTSD, who chases her next adrenaline high down the wrong road after her father restricts her access to his sky-diving business. A bad LSD trip that nearly kills her instead leaves her altered, broken and paranoid. Soon she’s facing down demons whose origins—supernatural, pharmaceutical, or psychological—she must determine before she loses her grip on her sanity altogether.
Secrets, Lies, and Scandals, Amanda K. Morgan (July 5)
Five disparate teens play a role in the accidental death of their sadistic summer school teacher, and its subsequent coverup. Now the five must rely on each other’s discretion and sense of self-preservation to save them all from going down for the crime. The classmates share narration, from the disgraced queen bee whose cop brother is on the case, to the rich kid with a violent streak, as alliances are forged and broken, suspicions swirl, and some take steps to save their own skin if the truth comes out.
The Killer in Me, by Margot Harrison (July 12)
When Nina Barrows closes her eyes at night, she doesn’t dream—instead, she sees the world through the eyes of the man she’s come to know as the Thief. She watched his life unfold when he was a child. She watches him now with his girlfriend and her daughter. And she watches, helpless to intervene, as he plans and executes serial murders. With the help of budding filmmaker Warren, and under the guise of finally seeking out her birth mother, Nina goes on a cross-country trip to locate and stop the Thief. But meeting him complicates everything, including her understanding of her own past and the nighttime visions she has been plagued with for as long as she can remember.
The Season, by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer (July 12)
In this contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy stand-in Megan McKnight is a reluctant debutante, alongside her twin sister, the Jane-like Julia. She’d rather be playing soccer than wearing white gloves on a dance floor, but her mother—a former deb herself—insists she go through the season, stylists, parties, and all. Even though Megan sticks out as badly as Mary Bennet at a house party, she still manages to meet an infuriatingly intriguing guy, in a narrative that includes scandalous modern twists.
Shiny Broken Pieces, by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (July 12)
In last year’s Tiny Pretty Things, Charaipotra and Clayton introduced a diverse trio of aspiring ballerinas, jockeying for roles and stabbing backs at a cutthroat New York ballet school. By book’s end, loyalties had shifted, innocence was lost, and the future of all three was thrown into question. Shiny Broken Pieces throws us right back into the deep end, with all the tulle-wearing sharks. Mean girl Bette has lost her reputation and her place at school, and will do anything to claw her way back. June has to prove to her mother and her nutritionist that her body issues won’t jeopardize her chance at a dance career. And Gigi, the formerly bright-eyed ingenue with a heart defect, has to decide whether to move on from her anger…or get sweet revenge. A cast of various hopefuls and hangers-on rounds out the cast, in a sequel that perfectly balances soapy thrills with a behind-the-curtain peek at the world of elite ballerinas.
The Shadow Hour, by Melissa Grey (July 12)
In Grey’s 2015 debut, The Girl at Midnight, an orphaned girl named Echo is drawn into an ancient battle between two supernatural races—the avian Avicen, whose leader, the Ala, made Echo an ally when she was small, and the dragonish Drakharin. Echo uses borrowed Avicen magic to travel between doors around the world, running errands for the Ala. Then she’s sent on a quest to track down the Firebird, a possibly mythical power source prophesied to end the Avicen-Drakharin war—and what Echo discovers about the Firebird transforms her life completely. In sequel The Shadow Hour, she deals with an unexpected magical legacy and fights the darkness she unwittingly unleashed, with the same brainy snark readers fell for in book one.
A World Without You, by Beth Revis (July 19)
Sci-fi writer Revis’s first contemporary novel has a heartbreaking, genre-bending twist: since he was a kid, Bo has believed he can travel through time, harboring impossible memories of the Titanic and long-ago battlefields. His parents send him to a school for troubled kids, which he reimagines as the Academy, a place for teens with superpowers. There he meets and falls for a fellow supergirl, emotionally scarred Sofia. When she commits suicide, his delusions take a turn: he believes she isn’t dead but trapped in the past, and that only he can retrieve her. This one promises to marry Revis’s fantastical sensibility with a story exploring mental illness and the fearsome flexibility of the human mind.
Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies, by Laura Stampler (July 19)
When bored suburban teen Harper gets the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the dating blogger for her favorite magazine, there’s only one problem: her distinct lack of relevant experience, despite the juicy application essay she based on her best friend’s life. Undeterred, she heads to New York to start a new life built on lies, where she attempts a precipitous leap into the dating world, wins praise with her snarky columns, and juggles two love interests—including a very connected boy who must not discover her secret.
Gemini, by Sonya Mukherjee (July 26)
Clara and Hailey are conjoined twins, living with their publicity-shy parents in a tiny California town where they’ve long since ceased to be a spectacle. But high-school graduation is approaching, and the wider world is calling. Despite their mother’s desire to keep them inside the snow globe world she has tried to create for them, Clara and Hailey want more—and, more importantly, they each want different things, despite being linked in a way that makes pursuing them nearly impossible. The girls contend with crushes, judgment, and the terror and wonder of ambition, while deciding whether to allow the bodies they’re in to define their future. Mukherjee enlightens readers curious about a deeply unusual mutation without ever being sensationalistic, and despite their fears Clara and Hailey emerge fully as individuals, not representatives.
How to Hang a Witch, by Adriana Mather (July 26)
Following her father’s descent into a mysterious coma, Samantha Mather and her stepmother move to the long-vacant family home in Salem, Massachusetts, where Samantha discovers the Salem witch trials are anything but ancient history. A descendant of trial judge Cotton Mather, she faces the wrath of the Descendants, whose ancestors Mather condemned to die. Supernatural occurrences—including the appearance of an angry (but sexy) ghost—lead Samantha to uncover an ancient curse kicked off by the very first hanging.
Riverkeep, by Martin Stewart (July 26)
Wulliam would rather run away than take on the mantle of Riverkeep on the shores of the treacherous Danék River, passed from father to son in his family for generations. Then his father is pulled into the river—and returns to the surface possessed by a dark force. Now Wulliam is forced to tend to both the river and his supernaturally transformed father. When he hears rumor of a cure, hidden in the belly of one of the river’s most mysterious beasts, he takes off on a deadly and magical downriver adventure in its pursuit.