Summer isn’t just about Choco Tacos and weird tanlines, it’s about racing through summer releases like it’s your job, and business is good. Here are 40 June through August YA books I can’t wait to get my hands on, or have already inhaled like so many Choco Tacos. Get them out of this internet list and into your hands:
Devoted, by Jennifer Mathieu
Why we’re excited: Both protected and restricted by her family’s extreme adherence to their fundamentalist Texas church, home-schooled Rachel finds herself questioning the costs of devotion. She starts defying the rules she lives by first subtly and then outright, until she finds herself facing a terrifying crossroads between giving in entirely or finding herself in exile.
Pair with: Deep thought and sweet tea
The Witch Hunter, by Virginia Boecker
Why we’re excited: This supernatural series starter set in an alt England centers on a witch hunter named Elizabeth, who faces death from a magic-fearing inquisitor when discovered in possession of herbs. When a wizard saves her from execution and asks her to be his ally, she’s plunged into a fascinating netherworld of dark enchantments.
Pair with: A rewatch of The Craft
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer
Why we’re excited: Hillyer’s a poet and cofounder of the Paper Lantern lit fiction incubator, and this is her YA debut. Four friends who’ve drifted apart are zapped by some strange magic back in time to their last year at summer camp, and must fix (or relive) old mistakes without derailing the future.
Pair with: An evening spent lol’ing at old yearbooks
The Last Leaves Falling, by Sarah Benwell
Why we’re excited: This melancholy debut centers on a Kyoto teen with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), trying to make sense of his condition and peace with his impending death. Unexpected friendship and Samurai poetry help him find meaning, joy, and dignity in the final days of his life.
Pair with: Kleenex and ice water
Sweet, by Emmy Laybourne
Why we’re excited: Set on a cruise ship sponsored by Solu, a delicious new sweetener that actually causes weight loss, Sweet is told in alternating chapters by normal girl Laurel and former child star Tom, who fall in love as the ship devolves into Solu-induced chaos. It’s a creepy, candy-bright story with blood under its nails.
Pair with: Smarties made with good old-fashioned sugar, a sense of creeping dread
Joyride, by Anna Banks
Why we’re excited: After witnessing him committing an odd crime, first-generation Mexican American Carly starts to fall for Anglo American golden boy Arden, the son of a racist local sheriff. His painful past and her ambition to smuggle her parents back into the U.S. complicate their headlong love affair and Banks’ breathtaking plot.
Pair with: Slurpees and stargazing
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, by Sarah Ockler
Why we’re excited: In this riff on “The Little Mermaid,” the singer who’s lost both her voice and her beloved Caribbean Ocean is Elyse d’Abreau, who leaves her Tobago home for Oregon after an accident ends her dreams of musical stardom. There she meets a boy with a boat, a purpose, and an eye for the ladies, and a sexy romance begins.
Pair with: Salt air, fish tacos, a rewatch of Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella
Why we’re excited: In her first novel for young adults, bestselling Kinsella imagines a hilariously authentic home life for heroine Audrey, who’s housebound with extreme anxiety after a recent social trauma. With the help of a therapist, a video camera, a boy, and her ridiculous but loving family, she slowly reimmerses herself in the world.
Pair with: Video game marathon and a Starbucks run.
Hello, I Love You, by Katie M. Stout
Why we’re excited: While on the run from one world of musical superstardom, Grace finds herself right on the precipice of another. The daughter of a famous Nashville producer and sister to one of country music’s biggest stars, she runs as far as she can from a secretly miserable home life, ending up in boarding school in Seoul. There, she shares an instant bond with her roommate, sister to a K-pop star—then starts falling unexpectedly for the arrogant star himself.
Pair with: A trip down the K-pop YouTube rabbithole, starting here
Delicate Monsters, by Stephanie Kuehn
Why we’re excited: When you’ve had enough of summer romance suited for the beach, sink into the depraved, delicious depths of Kuehn’s hotly anticipated third novel. Sociopathic Sadie; her one-time protegé in dark deeds, Emerson; and Emerson’s damaged, bully-magnet little brother Miles are each capable of monstrousness, but their pitch-black story, speeding toward some hinted-at event horizon, is leavened with moments of grace.
Pair with: The nihilistic pleasures of your choice.
Last Year’s Mistake, by Gina Ciocca
Why we’re excited: The arrival at her school of transfer student David, with whom she shares a romantic past, sends Kelsey into a tailspin. As she tries to decide what’s more important, holding onto what she has or trying to regain what she lost, secrets are revealed, old feelings are restoked, and swoons are swooned.
Pair with: Googling your exes on the internet
The Rules, by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié
Why we’re excited: A revenge plot disguised as a scavenger hunt organized by a rich, bereaved teen sends scores of his classmates into the woods, where they’re competing to find a series of objects—and being picked off one by one.
Pair with: A screening of your favorite slasher flick
More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera
Why we’re excited: Prepare to have your heart ripped out and handed to you by Silvera’s debut, set in summertime in the Bronx, in a near future where struggling gay teen Aaron dreams about getting a memory-altering procedure that will help him forget the boy he might be falling for.
Pair with: Rooftop movie night, open hydrant, Pop-Ice
Between the Notes, by Sharon Huss Roat
Why we’re excited: Knocked flat by her brother’s medical bills, Ivy’s family is forced to sell everything and move to the “wrong” side of town. Stricken with shame over the loss of status, and misery over the loss of her piano, Ivy struggles to keep her changed life a secret—and finds herself choosing between two boys, one who fits her old life, the other who fits her new.
Pair with: An appreciation for the bare necessities
The Night We Said Yes, by Lauren Gibaldi
Why we’re excited: The night Ella met bassist Matt might’ve been the best of her life, but it’s soured by Matt’s subsequent, unexplained disappearance. A year after the night they met, he returns, and asks her to relive it with him. True to the title, she says yes, in a story that alternates between the giddy past and the more freighted present.
Pair with: Skinny dipping and first kisses (or the kind that just feel that way)
Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
Why we’re excited: Older’s thriller is deeply, deliciously rooted in its setting, a contemporary Brooklyn thrumming with life, diversity, and supernatural strangeness. It follows Bed-Stuy teen Sierra from surviving a walking dead attack at a summer party to discovering and claiming her dangerous birthright, as a manipulator of spirits who gain life through her street art.
Pair with: Looking through your family photo albums with an eye for interesting secrets
Emmy & Oliver, by Robin Benway
Why we’re excited: Emmy’s childhood best friend, Oliver, was kidnapped by his father when they were kids—and now, a decade later, he’s back. In their time apart, Emmy was stifled by reactive, wildly overprotective parents, and Oliver was living an entirely new life. Their long-dormant friendship promises to become something more, as Oliver grapples with feeling like an outsider all over again.
Pair with: Late-night calls to old BFFs
Under the Lights, by Dahlia Adler
Why we’re excited: In book two of Adler’s Daylight Falls series, the BFFs of Behind the Scenes‘ Ally and Liam take the spotlight. Vanessa is struggling with parental disapproval, the uncertainty of making it as an Asian American actress, and feelings for her manager’s redheaded female intern that are anything but platonic. Josh is a roman candle of a bad boy, trying to find direction in between tabloid-style binges and unwanted appearances on his mom’s reality show. With Ally and Liam otherwise occupied, Van and Josh find their frenemy-ship turning into something bigger.
Pair with: Sexy banter and iced coffee
You and Me and Him, by Kris Dinnison
Why we’re excited: Best friends Maggie and Nash accept themselves and each other, even when others don’t. Maggie calls herself “the fat kid,” Nash is openly gay, and the friendship forged in their shared taste and misfit status is tested by the arrival of Tom, a boy they both crush on. When Maggie suspects her feelings are returned, she has to decide whether to risk Nash’s heartbreak for a chance at requited love.
Pair with: The Smiths
Forever for a Year, by B.T. Gottfred
Why we’re excited: This tender head rush of a new love story is told in the alternating perspectives of the lovestruck, Carolina and Trevor. Each wants a relationship that’s nothing like their parents’, and Gottfred follows them through every brutal and transcendent twist in their tale.
Pair with: Cartwheels, fireworks, and sad love songs
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls, by Lynn Weingarten
Why we’re excited: Weingarten’s story of a headlong best friendship that ends with one half of the BFF necklace dead promises to be a dark delight. A year after once-airtight Delia and June drifted apart, Delia’s nosedive into hard living has ended with her suicide by fire. But June has the horrible suspicion there’s more to Delia’s death, and plunges into a small-town netherworld of conspiracy and deceit in search of the truth, intercut with flashbacks to the girls’ intense bond.
Pair with: A backyard hammock as the sun goes down
Show and Prove, by Sofia Quintero
Why we’re excited: In the South Bronx in 1983, church camp counselors and best friends Nike and Smiles contend with diverging paths, girl trouble, and the threat of violence against a backdrop of the AIDS and crack epidemics of Reagan-era America. At the root of their troubles is Smiles’ recent transfer to a fancy private school, a move that promises a brighter future but divides him from both his best friend and himself, as he fears becoming an outsider in his own life.
Pair with: All that ’80s nostalgia you’re looking to neutralize
Survive the Night, by Danielle Vega
Why we’re excited: Vega’s gory horror story is set deep below the streets of New York City. Fresh out of rehab, Casey follows the sociopathic bad girl who first led her astray to a hellish underground rave called Survive the Night. There, far greater horrors than ex-boyfriends and police raids await them, as the freshly killed body in the subway tunnel can attest…
Pair with: Every light switch in the house in a locked and upright position
Damage Done, by Amanda Panitch
Why we’re excited: Lucy Black is a girl with a past, one that comes complete with a former identity: she was once Julia Vann, a girl whose twin brother’s frightening crimes set her on a path toward leaving her whole life behind. But when her past starts to bleed into her present, she learns there are some secrets you can’t run from.
Pair with: A double shot of espresso and thriller-inspired insomnia
About a Girl, by Sarah McCarry
Why we’re excited: In the concluding volume of McCarry’s Greek myth–infused Metamorphoses trilogy, science genius Tally, a sworn rationalist, falls in lust with her transgender best friend, Shane—then flees in search of her unknown father after Shane seems to use then reject her. She lands in a lushly mysterious small town, where’s she’s swept into an affair with an alluring woman named Maddie. There, her journey becomes more eerily dreamlike with every page.
Pair with: A reread of your favorite myths, a cool summer night
Pretending to be Erica, by Michelle Painchaud
Why we’re excited: Violet’s conman foster father is deadly committed to turning her into Erica Silverman, a kidnapped and murdered heiress who was taken 12 years ago, at age 5. Violet shares Erica’s face (thanks to plastic surgery) and her DNA (her dad’s got connections), and she’s been given a job: resurface as Erica, and play along until she can snatch an invaluable painting from the Silverman family collection. Soon Violet finds herself torn between allegiance to the man who raised her to be a perfect monster, and the loving family who believes she’s theirs.
Pair with: A question with no right answers (Choco Taco or Snow Cone?)
Down By Law, by Ni-Ni Simone
Why we’re excited: Isis Carter is tough as nails and always gives as good as she gets—right up until an act of vengeance turns into jail time. With everything in her life conspiring against her attempts to rebuild it, she has to decide whether to trust the boy—and secret crush—who reaches out in her time of need.
Pair with: Letting go of old vendettas
Of Dreams and Rust, by Sarah Fine
Why we’re excited: In this sequel to the Phantom of the Opera–inspired Of Metal and Wishes, set in a reimagined Asia, Wen is working alongside her father at a weapons factory’s healing clinic, and tending to the “ghost” who haunted the pages of book one. But when she learns of a frightening plan to crush the rebellion the boy she cares for ran off to join, she leaves her relatively safe world behind to issue a warning.
Pair with: The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack singalong. You know you want to.
What You Left Behind, by Jessica Verdi
Why we’re excited: In Verdi’s tear-jerker love story, a single father and high school senior meets a girl who represents a kind of freedom he can never have. Ryden is still struggling with guilt over the death of his baby’s mother, Meg, while keeping his kid secret from new crush Joni. The discovery of Meg’s old journals might set him on a path toward enlightenment, but his daily reality of diapers and late nights is never out of sight.
Pair with: A long drive, solo
Stick, by Michael Harmon
Why we’re excited: For Stick, a wildly talented high-school football player, the thrill of the game is gone. For Preston, a loner grieving his dad’s death, his thrills are found in donning a superhero costume and seizing control in a lawless world. The two connect over tutoring, and a life-changing, cross-clique friendship is born.
Pair with: A taste for justice
Never Always Sometimes, by Adi Alsaid
Why we’re excited: Right before high school began, Julia made a list of all the things she and best friend Dave would never do, from hooking up with a teacher to pining endlessly for someone who doesn’t want you back…to going full-on cliché and dating each other. But Dave, in love with Julia since forever, quickly broke the pining rule, and he has no fear of clichés. And when they rediscover their list near the end of senior year, they decide to break every rule on it, with epic results.
Pair with: Senioritis, those endless late summer days
This Broken Wondrous World, by Jon Skovron
Why we’re excited: In a world in which monsters exist, the once human-avoiding son of Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride is now living with Dr. Frankenstein’s descendants. Then a flareup of monstrous activity prefaces a strange invitation to join forces with the disturbed and disturbing Dr. Moreau, whose nefarious plans for world domination force Boy to become a man.
Pair with: Monster movie marathon
Legacy of Kings, by Eleanor Herman
Why we’re excited: This magic-tinged multi-POV historical tracks the becoming of Alexander the Great. We meet the hero at age 16, raring to leave his kingdom behind to seek adventure. The novel’s scope expands to include his reluctant Persian fiancée, his best friend, and more, set against the epic, ever-shifting canvas of the ancient world.
Pair with: A trip to an air-conditioned natural history museum on August’s hottest day
The Accident Season, by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Why we’re excited: Whether paranormal activity or superstition is to blame, October in Cara’s family is known as “accident season,” when disasters ranging from bumps and bruises to death befall her family in their small Irish hometown. With one week to go in the latest accident season, Cara contends with shifting friendships, clues in old photos, and a mass of secrets in her journey toward the root of her family curse.
Pair with: Dark sunglasses and giant headphones, so nobody bothers you while you race through the pages
Into the Dangerous World, by Julie Chibbaro
Why we’re excited: Grieving, artistic teen Ror leaves the Staten Island commune where she grew up for New York City. It’s 1984, her dad has just committed suicide, and she’s stuffed into a tiny SRO with her mom and sister—but she finds salvation in the city’s street art, and a boy who needs it as much as she does.
Pair with: A graffiti walking tour, if you can swing it
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine, by Stephanie Tromly
Why we’re excited: While cooling her heels in the suburbs with her newly divorced mom, Zoe meets Digby, an irritating yet charismatic oddball who enlists her help in investigating two disappearances. Soon the two are heading up a motley crew of offbeat teen detectives, as Zoe figures out what, exactly, she wants she and Digby to be.
Pair with: Veronica Mars reruns
The Creeping, by Alexandra Sirowy
Why we’re excited: When Stella was five, she and her friend Jeanie disappeared while picking strawberries. She came back, remembering nothing, but Jeanie was lost for good. The incident left a long shadow on Stella’s life, and that of her small town, but it isn’t till she’s 17 that strange things start happening, all of them traced back to the day little redheaded Jeanie dropped off the face of the earth.
Pair with: Rear-view sunglasses, to dispel that creepy sense of being followed
Another Day, by David Levithan
Why we’re excited: In this follow-up to 2012’s Every Day, Levithan switches perspective from body-hopping entity A to Rhiannon, the girl A fell in love with after spending a day living her boyfriend’s life. The day she spent with A left her enthralled, confused, then heartbroken—until she learns the impossible truth.
Pair with: Every Day, obvi
Lair of Dreams, by Libba Bray
Why we’re excited: Ummmm LIBBA BRAY. Book one in the series, The Diviners, set up an incredible cast of characters in a creepy, enveloping 1920s New York, of dance marathons and cocktail parties, occult museums and girls with bobbed hair and dark secrets. Book two will take the supernaturally empowered Diviners even deeper into danger, as they broach the borders of dreamworld.
Pair with: Wisecracks and a Prohibition-themed rent party (don’t forget the Ouija board)
A History of Glitter and Blood, by Hannah Moskowitz
Why we’re excited: Moskowitz’s fairy fantasy is an exciting 180 from her wonderful March title Not Otherwise Specified, exploring class warfare between fairies and gnomes in the densely imagined realm of Ferrum. It’s told in the form of a history book written by a lovelorn boy, and what I’m gonna need right now is for it to materialize in my hands, please.
Pair with: A walk through this old favorite
What summer releases are you dying to read?