29 of the Best YA Books of August

June and July wish they were this prolific. August is coming in hot with nearly 30 titles to get excited about, from a standalone Star Wars tale by Zoraida Córdova to brotherly bonding over football to a Thelma and Louise-style road trip and the travails of a doomsday prepper. Contemporary fans will flip over new offerings from Brandy Colbert, Rainbow Rowell, and Trish Doller. Stacey Lee and newcomer James Brandon have got the historical fiction you crave. And that’s just the beginning.

Announcing Trouble, by Amy Fellner Dominy (August 5)
In this fresh, heartfelt, sports-themed romance, baseball expert Josie has turned off her love for the game ever since her dad ditched the family for a shot at the big leagues. So when she first meets Garrett, a charming, arrogant baseball pitcher sidelined by an injury, it’s hate at first sight. Their undeniable chemistry takes over when they’re partnered for a broadcasting gig announcing the high school games, but can Josie ever fully give her heart to Garrett when she’s still reeling from her dad’s betrayal?

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight, by Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones (B&N Exclusive Edition) (August 6)
Two high school seniors from disparate backgrounds—Lena is black, confident, and believes in her future; Campbell is white, new to school, and determined not to make waves—are thrown together in the midst of unexpected violence at a Friday-night football game. As fellow concession workers, but not friends, the two girls have little in common, but soon they’re leaning on one another to survive the chaos surrounding them. Angie Thomas calls the book “compelling and powerful” so you know you’re in for a thought-provoking and deeply engaging read. The B&N Exclusive Editions includes extra chapters, a map of the neighborhood the girls must navigate, an author Q&A, and more.

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (B&N Exclusive Edition) (August 6)
The only thing that could possibly make this fantasy debut even better is a Barnes & Noble exclusive edition highlighting the five clans—that’s right, FIVE amazing, exclusive editions. The first book in the Legacy of Orïsha series includes elements of West African history and folklore. Prepare to fall hard for its female leads, diviner Zélie and fierce princess Amari, as they flee Amari’s brother on a life-or-death quest to restore magic to the land of Orïsha. Come for the detailed worldbuilding, mesmerizing characters, and female deity. Stay for the enchanting new voice in YA fiction. And be sure to mark your calendars for December 3rd, when the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeancehits stores!

#MurderFunding, by Gretchen McNeil (August 6)
After the events of #MurderTrending, in which Dee Guerrera took on Alcatraz 2.0 and its fiendish cast of serial killers, newcomer Becca Martinello is tossed into the lion’s den when she learns that her recently deceased, stay-at-home mom was none other than Molly Mauler, one of the gruesome state-sanctioned executioners. To prove her mom’s innocence (an impossible task?) Becca joins the cast of a fresh reality show, “Who Wants to Be a Painiac?” which purports to cater to non-lethal killers. However, behind the scenes, Becca’s about to discover just how deadly reality TV can be. McNeil returns with another biting satire-thriller that’s sure to keep readers gasping.

Here There Are Monsters, by Amelinda Bérubé (August 6)
The follow-up to Berube’s chilling debut, The Dark Beneath the Ice, introduces teenage Skye and her difficult younger sister, Deirdre, who have recently moved to a new town in the middle of swampy nowhere. Skye hopes to extricate herself from her role as Deirdre’s perpetual rescuer, but then Deidre disappears, and a horrifying visitor at the window tells Skye she’s the only one who can save her sister. Co-dependency and toxic, sacrificial relationships are just a few of the monsters served up in this riveting, psychologically complex tale.

House of Salt and Sorrows, by Erin Craig (August 6)
The Virgin Suicides meets the Brothers Grimm in this gothic fairy tale debut about the seven remaining sisters (out of twelve) who dwell with their duke father and stepmother at Highmoor manor by the sea. Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and four older siblings, Annaleigh is desperate for a glimmer of happiness. She thinks she’s found it via an enchanted door that leads to another world, full of dancing and romance—but as with all magical realms, the cost of visiting is steep. This looks to be a haunting fantasy brimming with lush detail.

Star Wars: Crash of Fate, by Zoraida Córdova (August 6)
Fresh off her work in the best-selling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of Viewand the Brooklyn Brujas series, Córdova shines with this stand-alone novel about two childhood best friends who grow up to fall in love after a long separation. But with Jules’s staid life as a farmer who’s never ventured beyond Batuu, and Izzy’s risky transformation from orphan to smuggler, can they make it as a duo? Their devotion to each other will be tested every step of the way when Jules’s latest job goes haywire and they find themselves in the crosshairs of an angry pirate.

Swipe Right for Murder, by Derek Milman (August 6)
The author of Scream All Night is back with a cinematic thrill ride. All Aidan wanted was a no-strings hookup during an overnight stay in NYC, but what he finds instead is a dead body, a mysterious flash drive, and a case of mistaken identity. On the run from the Swans—a pro-LGBTQ group violently targeting bigoted politicians—as well as the FBI, Aidan (who is gay) attempts to clear his name of murder and hacking charges. While he agrees with the Swans’ viewpoints, he can’t condone their violence, and he refuses to be anyone’s pawn. But how will he possibly free himself from the noir-ish nightmare he’s trapped in?

Vow of Thieves, by Mary Pearson (August 6)
The final book in the Dance of Thieves series—set in the same fantasy world as Pearson’s popular Remnant Chronicles—finds reformed thief / queensguard warrior Kazi and outlaw leader Jase dedicated to each other and the shared life they yearn to enjoy. But when Kazi’s home of Tor’s Watch falls under the control of a sinister enemy who’s fueled by vengeance, Jase and Kazi must use every bit of strength they possess to overcome him. Their love is strong and their skills are sharp, but will that be enough to triumph over betrayal?

Ziggy, Stardust and Me, by James Brandon (August 6)
In this historical debut about two star-crossed gay boys falling in love in Missouri, it’s 1973, and newspaper headlines are dominated by the Watergate hearings and the lingering Vietnam War. Real life hasn’t been kind to 16-year-old Jonathan Collins lately. Between his dad’s alcoholism, his own loneliness, and being told his homosexuality is a crime that needs “fixing” via aversion therapy, his only respite is his imagination. There, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust as well as Jonathan’s late mother help Jonathan cope with the outside world. But the biggest change to Jonathan’s way of thinking arrives in the form of Web, a confident Oglala Lakota boy who models self-acceptance for Jonathan just when Jonathan needs it most.

A Dress for the Wicked, by Autumn Krause (August 6) 
Set in an alternate Victorian England known as Britannia Secunda, where fashion dominates every aspect of life and commerce, talented outsider Emmaline Watkins gets the chance of a lifetime when she participates in a design competition like no other. As the only “country girl” vying for first prize, she has a lot to fear from her city-smart, wealthy rivals. But if she can dodge and weave the corruption tossed in her path, there’s a good chance she’ll emerge triumphant. This standalone debut looks perfect for fans of Project Runway.

Let’s Call it a Doomsday, by Katie Henry (August 6)
For severely anxious teenager Ellis Kimball, a Mormon, doomsday is more than a theory; she’s obsessed with preparing for an apocalyptic event she knows is imminent. She may not be able to say what form it will take, or when it will happen, but Hannah Marks does. The two girls meet in their therapist’s waiting room and become friends who feed into one another’s prophecies. As they work together to warn and save their loved ones from The End, Ellis starts to question everything she once held as gospel, both literally and figuratively. This looks to be a thought-provoking, beautifully rendered, and respectful look at faith, mental illness, relationships, and finding one’s place in in the hierarchy of belief.

Containment, by Caryn Lix (August 6)
In last year’s sci-fi thrill ride Sanctuary, prison-guard-in-training Kenzie wanted nothing more than to follow in her mother’s footsteps as an ideal corporate citizen. Her worldview was tested when an alien invasion hijacked the space station during a prison riot in which Kenzie was taken hostage by the teenage prisoners. In book two, she and her new allies (and the alien ship they absconded with) are on the run from the second wave of extraterrestrial attackers as well as the company, Omnistellar Concepts, that Kenzie once held in such high regard. Who will reach her first? And if Kenzie and her superpowered friends can’t stop what’s to come, how will Earth itself possibly hope to survive?

How the Light Gets In, by Katy Upperman (August 6)
A contemporary drama with romantic and paranormal elements, Upperman’s (Kissing Max Holden) latest centers on high school senior Callie, whose younger sister Chloe died a year ago. Unable to move on from the pain, Callie has quit the swim team, stopped working hard in school, and ramped up her pot smoking. Her parents issue an ultimatum: attend therapy camp this summer or travel back to Bell Cove, Oregon, where her aunt lives, to help her aunt renovate a Victorian bed and breakfast. But Bell Cove is the place where Callie’s sister died, and her ghost and that of a girl who went missing several years earlier seem to have a message for Callie.

Hello Girls, by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry (August 6)
Inspired by Thelma and Louise, this dark-but-invigorating, feminist road trip finds new best friends Winona and Lucille on the run from the boys and men who’ve made their lives hell. Winona’s fleeing her abusive father (a beloved weatherman), and Lucille has realized she can no longer tolerate her drug-dealing older brother. With a stolen car, a bag of drugs, and a plan to find Winona’s long-lost mother in Las Vegas, the teens quickly discover that getting from point A to point B will be anything but easy.

The Downstairs Girl, by Stacey Lee (August 13)
Lee has made a name for herself as a must-read author of YA historical fiction, having tackled the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (Outrun the Moon) and the Oregon Trail of 1849 (Under a Painted Sky) with vigor and aplomb. Girl depicts the story of Jo Kuan, an adopted Chinese-American hatmaker turned lady’s maid in Atlanta in the 1890s. Jo is much more than a servant to an ill-mannered, rich young woman; she writes a progressive-minded advice column under the moniker “Aunt Sweetie” for the local newspaper, while also digging into her biological family’s past. Should she keep her nom de plume a secret, knowing that not everyone will take kindly to the truth? Or is exposure worth the risk if it means having a voice in societal change? As with her previous novels, Lee knocks this one out of the park.

Gut Check, by Eric Kester (August 13) 
Journalist and college athlete Kester (That Book About Harvard) makes his YA debut with a subject near and dear to his heart: football. Misfit Wyatt knows he’ll never get another opportunity to bond with his star quarterback brother, Brett, before Brett heads to college unless he joins the high school football team (even if that means playing the mascot at first). He also knows that his hard-drinking father, and pretty much all the other men living in Grayport, Massachusetts, need something to take pride in now that the town’s fishing industry has been decimated. But just when things are looking up, Brett suffers a concussion and swears Wyatt to secrecy.

The Silence Between Us, by Alison Gervais (August 13)
Aspiring medical student Maya has always felt confident in her academic abilities at Pratt School for the Deaf, so when her family moves to a new town, where she must acclimate to a hearing school, she hates being viewed differently. Then she meets Beau, the overachieving student body president who learns ASL in order to communicate with Maya in a new way. Romance blossoms between them, but so does friction when Maya declines a cochlear implant and Beau doesn’t get why. Her pride in being Deaf is part of who she is–will she and Beau ever truly bridge the gap in their understanding of one another?

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart, by R. Zamora Linmark (August 13)
Linmark’s debut uses prose, haikus, lists, prayers, and imaginary conversations to tell a story of first love and first heartbreak in a fictional developing Pacific Island nation called South Kristol. When bookish seventeen-year-old Ken Z meets handsome Ran at a ritzy shopping mall far from his usual stomping grounds, the two boys form a connection over their shared appreciation of Oscar Wilde. A whirlwind courtship ensues, only to be abruptly severed a few weeks later when Ran seemingly loses interest and disappears. Ken struggles with the age-old question: Is it truly better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

Start Here, by Trish Doller (August 13)
Doller’s third contemporary is just as insightful and emotional as her previous two. When Willa and Taylor’s mutual best friend, Finley, dies before the trio can embark on their planned sailing trip of the Great Loop, the girls are left behind in their grief. Soon they face a difficult task: discovering whether their friendship has a future without Finley as the linchpin holding it together. The list of clues Finley provided take Willa and Taylor from Ohio to Key West, but it’s their journey of rediscovery that matters most, as they come to terms with who they are and what the future means to them now.

Midnight Beauties, by Megan Shepherd (August 15)
In last year’s Paris-set Grim Lovelies, Anouk (an animal magicked into human form to serve the witches who secretly run the world) had three days to prove she didn’t kill her creator. In the conclusion to this addictive duology, Anouk has a new mission: save the friends who are stuck in their animal forms or lose them forever. Standing in her way are a forced marriage, a series of trials to prove her potential as a witch, and a conspiracy to wipe out a powerful coven. So, you know, nothing much.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, by Brandy Colbert (August 20)
Dove “Birdie” Randolph lives in Chicago with her tight-knit family above the hair salon they own and operate. She’s dedicated to being the perfect daughter, even if that means sacrificing her own interests to keep her parents happy. But when she falls for a boy whose past guarantees her parents’ disapproval, Birdie decides some relationships are best kept hidden. She further rebels by growing close to her mother’s sister, Aunt Carlene, who’s moved in with the family, causing tension that’s difficult for Birdie to decipher. When the secrets start to pour out, it will change everything, and readers will fall in love with every nuanced character.

Fan the Fame, by Anna Priemaza (August 20)
As with her debut, Kat and Meg Conquer the World, Priemaza’s latest takes on fandom and gaming, with the added bonus of revealing the dichotomy between online stars’ public personas and their offscreen lives. When Lainey’s brother Cody, a super-famous YouTube streamer, heads to a gaming convention, Lainey decides to expose him for his secretly sexist viewpoints. Meanwhile, one of Cody’s fans clings to the idea that meeting his idol will jumpstart his own streaming career, and a young woman being shipped romantically with Cody hopes to take advantage of the additional attention stemming from that possibility. When all four con-goers’ lives collide, who will come out on top?

As Many Nows As I Can Get, by Shana Youngdahl (August 20)
In this smart and searing debut that plays around with the concept of time, Scarlett is a freshman in college majoring in physics, but that’s only one of the “nows” readers will get to experience with her. Simultaneously (in a sense), during the summer after high school ends, Scarlett begins an intense relationship with her lifelong friend David, whose charisma and inner demons excite her passions but also repel her, and the two will never be the same again. To paraphrase Faulkner, the past is never over. It isn’t even past.

Color Me In, by Natasha Díaz (August 20)
Neveah Levitz, a sophomore whose mother is Black and whose father is Jewish, explores the intersections of her identity for the first time after her parents get divorced. Now living in Harlem with her mom’s family after spending her first fifteen years in the suburbs, Neveah struggles to find her place, uncertain where—if anywhere—she fits in. Too old for a traditional bat mitzvah, and too “white-passing” to relate to her African American cousins’ struggles, it’s only when Neveah discovers a secret from her mother’s past and begins to fall in love that she realizes she must forge her own future. Natasha Díaz pulls from her real life to shape this extraordinary debut contemporary novel.

Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator) (August 27)
The author of Eleanor & Park and the author of Comics Will Break Your Heart (whose artwork can be seen in multiple award-winning graphic novels) have joined forces for this delightful tale of friendship with Can’t Hardly Wait vibes. “Seasonal besties” and Omaha teens Deja and Josiah spend every fall together as co-workers at the local pumpkin patch. Now that they’re seniors, feeling bereft about their last shift on their last night on the job, outgoing Deja decides it’s time for reticent Josiah to stop speculating about his crush (aka Fudge Girl) and do something. Soon they’re taking full advantage of their surroundings—not just sampling every delectable treat and attraction at the patch, but possibly learning new things about each other and the ways in which they relate.

All the Bad Apples, by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (August 27)
When Mandy disappears, her younger sister Deena knows she isn’t dead like everyone believes; otherwise, how could letters from Mandy keep showing up? The letters contain information about a curse handed down through generations of women in their family, and Deena sets off on a cross-country hunt for information. The answers she receives are tough for her to take, especially since they paint an accurate portrait of a history of violence against women and girls. Fans of Spellbook of the Lost and Found already know how skilled Fowley-Doyle is with queer YA but whether she’s a familiar favorite or a new author to you, this book about sexual and reproductive rights promises to make you think.

Crown of Coral and Pearl, by Mara Rutherford (August 27)             
Twin sisters Nor and Sadie, who dwell in the ocean village of Varenia, have always known that beautiful Sadie will eventually be sent to marry the Crown Prince of Ilara, whose kingdom is on land. But when Sadie falls in love with someone else, Nor is sent in her place—despite the scar on her face that would normally disqualify her—and suddenly Nor is thrust into a new mountain-palace home, a place of royal intrigue. A dangerous romance (with her betrothed’s brother)  follows, as well as the shattering realization that nothing as it seems, and she alone holds the key to the fate of her village and everyone she holds dear.

Song of the Abyss, by Makiia Lucier (August 27)
Reyna is an aspiring cartographer and explorer hoping to follow in her famed grandfather’s footsteps. Having spent the past year on an expedition of her own, she believes her goal is in sight. That’s before her ship is attacked and her entire crew—including the captain—disappear, and Reyna is forced to make an uneasy alliance with the prince from a rival kingdom. Together, they’ll fight for the truth, even if that means going up against all sorts of monstrous deep-sea creatures and deadly, mythological legends.

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