48 of the Best YA Books of May

Have you ever seen a book month packed with this much glory?? Coming this May we’ve got a beautiful host of rainbow titles, majorly awaited sequels, debuts you’ll be talking about for months, rom-coms from some of your major favorites, killer thrillers, and more. Honestly, this list speaks for itself, so let’s get to it!

With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo (May 7)
Written in short-chapter style, it’s entirely possible to completely devour this delicious sophomore novel about a talented teenage chef named Emoni who happens to be a single mother, but I savored it little by little, from her beautifully crafted relationships with her daughter, best friend, the grandmother who raised her, and the new boy at school who’s quietly stealing her heart, to her compelling ambition to be more than she ever believed her circumstances would allow. When an opportunity arises to nurture her culinary craft and send her on an international trip, Emoni struggles to believe her life could ever make room for everything she desires. But with the support of those around her and the power of her own talent, she learns that her future might be more limitless than she could’ve ever conceived.

Romanov, by Nadine Brandes (May 7)
The Romanovs are one of my greatest weaknesses, so I’m dying of excitement over this fantasy take that finds Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov on the run with an ancient spell in her suitcase that might be the only thing that can save her family from exile in Siberia. With the leader of the Bolshevik army on her tail, Nastya has only two choices: release the spell, or get sexy soldier Zash to help her. What’s more dangerous: releasing the magic when she’s only a sporadic user? Or trusting a Bolshevik whose job it will ultimately be to see her dead?

Finale, by Stephanie Garber (May 7)
One of the most awaited series enders of the year is finally (pun partially intended) here, revisiting Tella, Scarlett, and Legend after the end of Caraval. The Fates have been freed, Legend is on the throne, Scarlett is in possession of a dangerous secret, and all three of them have life-changing choices to make. It’s your last chance in this lush, glittering, magical world, and you won’t want to miss a single page.

Everything Grows, by Aimee Herman (May 7)
This queer YA set in 1993 stars fifteen-year-old Eleanor, who’s not sure how to react to the news that her bully has died by suicide. Cutting off her hair seems to be one way, and then there’s the class assignment to write a letter to someone who’ll never receive it…that lets her get out some feelings about James, too. Meanwhile, his death and her feelings about it aren’t all that are on her mind; she’s dealing with her mother’s mental illness and  questions about her gender and sexuality, and it’ll take making and breaking relationships and forging a support system to help her find her way through.

Tinfoil Crowns, by Erin Jones (May 7)
Some books wait until the end to punch you in the gut. This one starts with the pain, introducing readers to Fit (do not call her Jessica) and her brother, Frankie, who were almost killed during their mother’s bout with postpartum psychosis. While Frankie is too young to remember it, Fit isn’t, and when her mother, River, is released from prison and returns to their lives, she can neither forgive nor forget. Thankfully, she has a distraction in the form of her vlog following, especially when an agent contacts her and blows up her career. But her past and present collide when fans connect her to the notorious crime that took place over a decade ago, and it’s looking like the only way to use her fame in order to escape from her past is to reconcile with the mother she hoped never to face again. The unusual inclusion of an adult POV (River’s) adds a really special touch here, and I’ll also note that this is another rainbow read; Fit is explicitly attracted to girls and guys, especially her best friend, Diamond.

Somewhere Only We Know, by Maurene Goo (May 7)
Goo has become one of YA’s most reliable writers of rom-coms, and her newest Netflix-worthy novel has all the romantic charm you’ve come to expect, all set against the glamorous backdrop of Hong Kong. When budding photographer Jack realizes the girl he’s bumped into on assignment for his secret job as a tabloid reporter is none other than K-Pop star Lucky, he sees her as a means to an end; nothing will secure a full-time position (and an escape from his parents’ expectations) faster than an inside look at a major celebrity on the run, especially knowing that K-Pop life has demanding expectations of its singers. But the longer they spend together exploring everything Hong Kong has to offer, the more he sees beyond the glamour and the fame he’s never cared to understand. Which is good, because Lucky’s on the verge of next-level stardom, and if Jack chooses himself over her future, it will destroy everything she’s worked so hard to build, on top of breaking her heart.

Hope and Other Punchlines, by Julie Buxbaum (May 7)
Abbi Hope Goldstein is better known as Baby Hope, that girl from the famous photo taken on 9/11, sporting a birthday crown and holding a balloon as the South Tower collapses behind her. But it has been fifteen years since the photo was taken, and for the big 1-7, she’s treating herself to a summer of anonymity as a day camp counselor a few towns over, surrounded by little kids who’ve never heard of her. But Noah has definitely heard of Baby Hope; 9/11 tore his world apart. And when he meets Abbi at Knight’s Day Camp, he’s sure it was fate. Abbi isn’t, but when questions about that famous photo come to light, the two will work together to answer them, even if they don’t like what they learn.

Her Royal Highness, by Rachel Hawkins (May 7)
Hawkins’s wild rumpus, Royals (retitled Prince Charming for the paperback), introduced us to Flora, a spoiled lesbian princess. No, like, literal princess. She also happens to be Millie’s roommate at her new school in Scotland, the one she applied to in desperation after she caught her sort-of girlfriend with someone else. What starts off as a rocky roommateship turns into something more, and before Millie knows it, she and Flora are actually friends…and actually hooking up. Being swept off her feet by a princess is definitely some kind of fairy tale, but is a happily ever after too good to be true?

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (May 7)
Freddy’s got her dream girl in Laura Dean, or at least she thinks so. The thing is, Laura Dean is kind of an awful girlfriend, and it’s making Freddy miserable. But how can she turn away a girl who’s so perfect on paper, and who keeps coming back for more? When her best friend introduces her to a medium who says “break up with her,” Freddy knows she’s receiving a message she should heed. But what if the problem with her relationshipwith all her relationshipsis Freddy herself?

Deposing Nathan, by Zack Smedley (May 7)
The heart of this book is a deposition that aims to uncover the truth behind a fight between Nate and his best friend, Cam, that left Nate with a stab wound to his abdomen. But what unfolds around it is the history of how two boys became fast friends and cracked each other’s hearts wide open. How they helped each other realize their respective sexualities weren’t quite as fixed as they thought. (Bi in both cases; their previous relationships with girls are not disavowed.) It explores how the expectations and behavior of others factor into our seeing beautiful things as ugly, and how the brutality that tears us apart isn’t always as obvious as a stab wound.

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, by Tanya Boteju (May 7)
Nima Kumara-Clark is kinda just Done. Her mother’s gone, being in love with a straight girl is brutal, and her world just feels too small…until a local festival introduces her to the other side of town, and its thriving drag scene. Suddenly, Nima’s finding a whole new love of life among drag queens, potential romances, and allies she never expected. Free of the limits and expectations that used to bind her, now she can be anyone she wants, if she can just let herself heal from the old wounds threatening to drag her down. Even if the title hadn’t already sold me on this debut, the premise definitely does, and I suspect I’m not alone!

Broken Throne: A Red Queen Collection, by Victoria Aveyard (May 7)
Can’t get enough of the Red Queen universe? Then you’re in for some major luck! This collection features two novellas you may already know (Steel Scars and Queen Song), as well as three brand-new ones, plus flags, maps, bonus scenes, journal entries, a full-color chart of House Calore, and more. Catch up with your faves and expand your knowledge of the Red Queen world!

How it Feels to Float, by Helena Fox (May 7)
Everything about this book sounds designed to shatter my heart into a thousand pieces, and I am (mostly) ready for it. Biz’s mind is a complicated place, one in which the fact that she still sees her father, who died when she was seven, is both a blessing and a curse. Certainly, she can’t tell anyone, just like she doesn’t tell anyone about her harmful thoughts or about kissing Grace or about her interest in the new boy. But when the comfort she’s taken is ripped away from her, Biz is left to wrestle with whether she can continue floating, or whether it’s time to let herself sink.

Carmilla, by Kim Turrisi (May 7)
If you spend any time on YouTube, there’s a solid chance this novelization needs no introduction, but it’s gonna get one anyway. Laura is brand-new to college, and she immediately clicks with her roommate, Betty, which changes not one iota when she reveals she’s gay. But poof: just as quickly as they met, Betty’s gone, replaced by a Sapphic player named Carmilla who takes all of Laura’s food and only stores carefully labeled soy milk in their fridge. Only…it’s not soy milk. Why does Laura’s new roommate have a package of blood? And where did Betty go, anyway? When she learns Betty isn’t the first girl to disappear, and that those who’ve come back do so as weird shadows of themselves, who suffer from dark dreams that Laura herself shares, she gets more and more suspicious. She starts to suspect Carmilla’s got something to do with it all… and she’s got some other feelings when it comes to Carmilla, too.

Nocturna, by Maya Motayne (May 7)
In this Dominican-inspired fantasy debut, Prince Alfie will do anything to bring his dead brother Dez back, even if it means using dangerous magic. Magic is something Finn’s got in spades, being a faceshifter who barely remembers what she really looks like. When Finn is caught by a mobster and blackmailed to steal treasure from Castallan’s royal palace, it sets the two on a collision course that unlocks an ancient power that just might destroy the world as they know it.

Again, But Better, by Christine Riccio (May 7)
Major Anna and the French Kiss vibes abound as this notable BookTuber’s debut opens with college student Shane escaping a life that hasn’t quite lived up to expectations via a semester abroad in London. Immediately, she goes from having no social life to speak of to finding herself in the whirlwind of her roommates, including the sexy and charming Pilot, and it’s a far cry from her lonely life as a pre-med student. But even on a semester away, real life always seems to sneak in, and her doubts and insecurities threaten to undo all her growth.

There’s Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon (May 14)
Menon’s rom-coms are absolute instabuys for me; her smart, funny characters full of charm and personality are just impossible for me to ignore, and the covers make sure I know exactly how good a time I’m in for. Her newest guaranteed-to-make-you-smile tale stars the titular Sweetie, a fat Indian American track athlete determined to show the world her size isn’t a negative, and Ashish, who’s so miserable in breakup recovery that he lets his parents set him up, dating contract and all. It’s a recipe for unexpected, uninvited, but oh so charming love, and not only did I completely adore it, but truly, Sweetie brought the fat rep of my heart.

The Lost Coast, by Amy Rose Capetta (May 14)
Honestly, we don’t even deserve Amy Rose Capetta, who’s on queer book number four in a year and a half. But we’ve got her, and not even two months after her coauthored Once & Future, she’s back with this dreamy, atmospheric queer witch fantasy, set amid the California redwoods. When Danny gets in a little over her head at home, her single mom moves the two of them to Tempest, California, right in the heart of the Lost Coast. It’s there that Danny meets fellow new kid Sebastian…and soon after finds him dead. But she also meets the Grays, a circle of witch best friends, all every bit as queer as she is (identities within the group include nonbinary, queer, gray ace, and bisexual “with a pretty strong lean toward masculine folks”), and all missing Imogen, a fellow Gray more powerful than the rest of them who has disappeared. The Grays become convinced Danny possesses the magic they need to find Imogen, but as she begins to fall for Imogen’s ex, she has to wonder not only whether she’s capable of doing what they ask, but whether she really wants to.

I Wish You All the Best, by Mason Deaver (May 14)
When Ben de Backer’s parents throw them out for coming out as nonbinary, they’re forced to move in with their older sister, Hannah, who’s also a refugee from their parents’ draconian rules. After the disaster of that first coming out, Ben isn’t going to repeat their mistake; determined to lie low at their new school, they only come out to Hannah, her husband, and the therapist they’re now seeing for their anxiety. But then there’s Nathan, who notices Ben no matter how much they try to stay unnoticed. And there are feelings, feelings that seem to be edging beyond the bounds of friendship. And little by little, Ben has to acknowledge there’s a whole wide world out there beyond the cruelty their parents have shown them, and so much happiness awaiting them, if only they can embrace it. To the best of my knowledge, this sweet, affirming, romantic, and charming contemporary is the first with a nonbinary lead by a nonbinary author to be released by a major publisher, immediately establishing Deaver as an author to watch.

The Candle and the Flame, by Nafiza Azad (May 14)
Fatima is one of only three people to survive her Silk Road city of Noor’s slaughter by the tribe of Shayateen djinn, but she should be safe now that Noor is protected by the Ifrit and their commander, Zulfikar. Then one of the most powerful of the Iftir dies, and it changes Fatima in confusing and terrifying ways that pull her into the political landscape and a world of magic beyond imagination.

Last Bus to Everland, by Sophie Cameron (May 14)
The Out of the Blue author returns to bless us with yet more queer YA, this time starring two boys whose lives are forever changed by their meeting. Brody is struggling to connect with anyone in his life when he meets art student Nico, who takes him to a “knockoff Narnia” called Everland that opens at a specific day and time each week for Nico and his misfit friends. In Everland, Brody finally feels like he’s found his people; it’s an antidote to everything he’s struggling with in the real world. But when he has to choose between leaving Earth to stay in Everland for good or never being able to return to it, what will he pick?

Don’t Date Rosa Santos, by Nina Moreno (May 14)
So many things are hard for Rosa Santos, a girl who’s constantly straddling cultures, allegiances, and options. And it doesn’t help that she’s rumored to be cursed, supposedly dangerous to boys connected to the sea. As she looks forward into the future and the choices that come with it, an unexpected connection with a boy whose entire life is the water threatens to throw everything into upheaval. Can Rosa handle one more wrench in her plans and overcome her curse?

We Contain Multitudes, by Sarah Henstra (May 14)
Partnership for an English project turns into a meet-cute when Kurl and Jonathan are paired up for an assignment that turns them into pen pals. As the two exchange letters, a friendship and then a tentative romance begin to blossom from their correspondence. It should be a sweet, happy time, but between homophobia, trouble at home, bullying, and secrets, holding onto the magic they’ve found may be too big a challenge to face, even if they face it together.

We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal (May 14)
Zafira and Nasir are two of the most notorious residents of the kingdom of Arawiya, whether they want to be or not. As the Prince of Death, son of an autocratic sultan, Nasir is forced to be a brutal assassin, no matter how much compassion lies in his heart. As the Hunter, Zafira is forced to disguise herself as a man in order to brave a cursed forest to feed her people. If anyone knew she was in fact a girl, no one would take her seriously or accept all she has done. Meanwhile, war is on the horizon, Arawiya is being claimed by shadow, and only Zafira and Nasir can find the lost artifact that will save everyone. But while Zafira is out to save her people through the mission, Nasir has another job: kill the Hunter.

Stepsister, by Jennifer Donnelly (May 14)
Cinderella takes one of its darkest turns yet in this feminist reimagining starring Isabelle, stepsister to the infamous girl who lost her slipper and won Prince Charming’s heart. Isabelle sacrificed everything to be the girl of the prince’s dreams, even cutting off her toes in order to make the glass shoe fit. At her mother’s behest, she has long pushed down her true self in order to be more like Cinderella, and now she has nothing to show for it but having turned into one of the cruel, jealous girls of legend. With a little help from Chance and in defiance of Fate, Isabelle must rewrite her story to find happiness.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme, by Tiffany Jackson (May 21)
This Weekend at Bernie‘s–esque story of three friends who team up to create a powerhouse hip-hop career for their slain best friend/brother by using boxes of his old tracks they found after his murder may seem like a departure from Jackson’s earlier work, and in a way it is—it’s definitely more comedic, it’s got multiple points of view, and the passion for music and hip-hop culture flows so strong, it’s easy to get lost in the rhythm and rhymes, especially if you happen to know every track referenced throughout. But fans of her first two novels will recognize both the way the plot is driven by headlines and the book’s focus on those so often forgotten by the media and the rest of the world, their lives treated as disposable. Jackson’s care, knowledge, and passion shine through everything she does, and it’s clear that however much her work changes it up, it’ll always be worth a read.

Keep This to Yourself, by Tom Ryan (May 21)
Contemporary thrillers are a great love of mine, so I’m particularly excited that Ryan, who has already published a bunch in Canada, is bringing his talents over the border with this American debut. To say I devoured this book would be an understatement. It stars eighteen-year-old gay teen Mac, whose world is turned upside down when he discovers a note left for him by one of his best friends, Connor…a year after Connor was murdered by the notorious Catalog Killer, who ravaged their previously sleepy town. Confident that the note is enough to get the unsolved case reopened, Mac is furious when the cops don’t see it that way. When he takes matters into his own hands, he finds one of the victim’s cousins is every bit as eager as he is to investigate, but the rabbit hole they fall down comes with twists, turns, secrets, betrayal, and regret. (And kissing. Did I mention said cousin is hot and gay?) Whenever you think you’ve figured something out, be prepared to be proven wrong on the very next page.

Girl Gone Viral, by Arvin Ahmadi (May 21)
Genre-jumping from his contemporary coming-of-age road trip story in Down and Across, Ahmadi’s sophomore features a coder named Opal who attends a boarding school for technical prodigies, the perfect place to hone her skills and avoid the fact that her father’s long vanished. Opal has all but given up hope she’ll ever again see the man who disappeared after her tenth birthday leaving nothing but a cryptic note, until an opportunity surfaces in the form of a contest whose winner will get to meet the billionaire founder of the world’s biggest virtual reality platform. But he’s more than just a tech superhero to Opal; he’s the guy who worked with Opal’s dad, and her best hope of finding out what happened to him. He may also be the guy who killed him.

The Boy Next Story, by Tiffany Schmidt (May 21)
The second title in the Bookish Boyfriends series turns its eyes to Little Women, inspiring the story of a girl named Rory, who likes a boy named Toby…who likes Rory’s sister, Merrilee, who’s dating Toby’s friend Fielding. Never a dull romantic moment at Reginald R. Hero High, home to a thousand launched literary fantasies! Or, you know, at least two, with more to come. Either way, this is the perfect series for literary romance lovers, especially those who love their lit on the lighter side.

Kingsbane, by Claire Legrand (May 21)
Furyborn fans, rejoice! The follow-up to Legrand’s New York Times-bestselling fantasy is here, bringing us back to the worlds of Rielle and Eliana after they’ve each been named Sun Queen, a thousand years apart. Rielle is tasked with gathering the tools necessary to repair the Gate and keep the angels out, in addition to spying on the angel Corien. But the latter is a charmer full of compelling promises, which threaten to pull Rielle onto the wrong side. Meanwhile, in Eliana’s time, she’s desperate not to fall prey to the same corruption Rielle did once upon a time, and it’s making her power volatile. With a friend to save and a target on her back, will Eliana finally embrace her power and properly wear the crown?

Birthday, by Meredith Russo (May 21)
The Stonewall Award–winning queen of trans girl YA is back with a sophomore novel that once again has a romance between a trans girl and cis boy at its heart, and offers rare perspectives and even rarer connection, heart, loyalty, and love. Morgan and Eric were born in the same hospital on the same day, and they’ve been best friends and each other’s saviors from their families ever since. Told from both perspectives over the years from their thirteen to their eighteenth birthday, it reveals the ties that bind them, the moments of romance that confuse them, the secrets they keep, the adversaries they face, and everything else that builds toward determining who they will become independently and what roles they will play in each other’s futures.

Going Off Script, by Jen Wilde (May 21)
It’s one of my most fervent YA wishes that Jen Wilde return with another awesomely adorable and wildly fun queer book every year, and I’m so thrilled 2019 is one of those years. This one stars Bex, a superfan of TV’s Silver Falls who’s psyched when she lands an internship on the show. The internship isn’t quite as fun as she imagined, forcing her to take matters into her own hands and draft a script. But when she shows it to the head writer, only to have him turn around and not only steal it but straightwash it, it’s time to make a splash…with the help of her very first girlfriend, a YouTube star who knows a little about just how messy the industry of celebrity can be.

Hold My Hand, by Michael Barakiva (May 21)
Yes, yes, this is a companion to the very, very cute One Man Guy, though it does stand alone, and explores the effect of cheating on relationships. When Ethan cheats on Alek with his ex—and immediately understands he made a mistake and ruined the best thing he’s ever had—Alek has to decide whether he can forgive and forget. Can there be trust and a future after a breakup brought on by cheating? The pair is about to find out.

Missing, Presumed Dead, by Emma Berquist (May 21)
Hellloooo, bisexual urban fantasy! Lexi can tell how and when someone will die just by touching them, and it’s ruining her life. How can she possibly be with anyone when a mere touch foretells the thing she least wants to know about them? But when she meets Jane, who’s already dead, that becomes a nonissue. The only problem is that Jane’s only around to find out who killed her, and once she solves that mystery, she’ll be off to the afterlife. How can Lexi help the girl of her dreams when success means losing her forever?

Amelia Westlake Was Never Here, by Erin Gough (May 21)
This Aussie import by the author of Get it Together, Delilah! combines so many of my favorite things: a private school setting, an agenda of justice, and a romance its two leads never saw coming. Harriet Price is a dream student, in sharp contrast to justice-seeking troublemaker Will Everheart. But the two girls are at their best-worst when they find themselves teaming up to expose the coverup of their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior, creating a fake student named Amelia Westlake as cover for the havoc they wreak in the name of truth and justice. Eventually, the truth must come out; how long can Harriet and Will put that off, and what will they manage to squeeze in before then? Perhaps a little romance?

The Pursuit of Miss Heartbreak Hotel, by Moe Bonneau (May 21)
There’s no love lost between Lucy and Eve, best friends until Eve got hot and popular and left Lu behind. Lu doesn’t need Eve anymore; she’s happy with the life she has, the friends she has, and her college-bound future. Then a chance reconnection throws them back into each other’s lives, throwing Lu for a loop, and before she knows it, they’re thick as thieves again. But things feel different, and the chemistry between them has Lu forgetting all about her old crush and wondering whether there’s something other than friendship between them.

Brave Face, by Shaun David Hutchinson (May 21)
Hutchinson is already a staple of queer YA, including a novel releasing just three months before this one. But this shows a whole new side to the writera memoir that recounts his battle with depression and how it nearly brought him to take his own life. His story is composed of a million little moments that led him to where he is today, and is a reminder that some of our greatest struggles can be pieces of what later become our greatest triumphs.

Practically Ever After, by Isabel Bandeira (May 21)
The third book of the Ever After companion series stars Grace, a girl who has got it all: great friends, acceptance to her first-choice school, and the perfect girlfriend, Leia. And why shouldn’t her life be perfect? Lord knows she’s spent plenty of time working out how to get it that way. But as high school comes to a close, things start to fall apart, from school projects to her soon-to-be long-distance relationship. As someone who calculates every decision, Grace knows the “right” choice is to break up with Leia, but what happens when your heart just won’t follow your head?

We Are the Perfect Girl, by Ariel Kaplan (May 21)
Cyrano retellings can be tough to pull off without making someone look like a horrible lying liar, but Kaplan (one of my favorite underrated writers in contemporary YA) nails it in this story of a girl who starts it off as an accident and continues the ruse in order to help her beautiful but frequently tongue-tied best friend. Aphra’s got the personality, Bethany has the brains, and they love each other to pieces, but they also both like Greg. When Bethany and Greg start dating while he and Aphra start texting (sort of, accidentally, and without him knowing that she’s the one he’s talking to), things become a mess…but only Aphra knows it. What Bethany knows is that Aphra’s coaching her on what to say is going great, and what Greg knows is that even while Bethany can sometimes be awkward, the chemistry they have when they text is great, so who cares? But when the truth comes out, will everything Aphra’s been doing for her friend prove she wants to the best for her, or tear them apart? And where does that texting chemistry leave Greg and the girl he’s really falling for?

Happily and Madly, by Alexis Bass (May 21)
Bass had one of my favorite debuts in recent memory with Love & Other Theories, and I’m thrilled to see her return this month with her third title, a suspenseful mystery set in a wealthy beach town. It stars Maris, who’s on the verge of her eighteenth birthday—the very same birthday foretold as the year she’d die. The other thing she’s been told about her future? That she will fall happily and madly in love. It’s unclear where that love will come from, since the only local option who intrigues her, Edison Duval, is with Maris’s new stepsister. But the more Maris learns about Edison and what he’s hiding, the more intrigued she gets, and the more fulfilling the beautiful half of her destiny seems worth fulfilling the tragic one.

Bright Burning Stars, by A.K. Small (May 21)
Super intense books about female friendships and ballet are a unique YA niche, and this debut is the latest in the microgenre. Marine and Kate are best friends who’ve trained together at the Paris Opera Ballet School since they were kids. They’ve always had their eyes on the prize, but when a student’s body is found in the dorms just before their final year at school, it’s time to think about how far they’d go for the grandest prize of all: the opportunity to join the Opera’s corps de ballet, which selects only one girl. One thing that just might help is cozying up to the Demigod, aka the most talented boy at school, but as both girls do, the competition grows so fierce it just might tear them apart.

The Kingdom, by Jess Rothenberg (May 28)
I had the added joy of devouring this sophomore YA at a Disneyworld hotel, which was a truly magical experience when you consider I kept describing it as “the Disney Dystopia from Hell.” Ana is a Fantasist, one of seven human-robot hybrids designed to look like and act like the Disney princess of your dreams. She and all her sisters are taken care of by Daddy and his team, and are never to question that care…or the fact that they can never go outside, have phones, or enjoy any other basic freedoms. And then there’s her sisters’ newly weird behavior and her growing attraction to one of the park’s maintenance men, it’s becoming clear that something is rotten in the state of the Kingdom. But all that’s history: when the book opens, said maintenance man has been murdered, and Ana is sitting on trial for his killing. This book is fresh, fun, and creepy in all the best ways, and the skillful interweaving of the trial and the events leading up to it make it one of those books you’ll want to read in a single day.

The Wise and the Wicked, by Rebecca Podos (May 28)
Following up on  her Lambda-winning Like Water, Podos leaves contemporary behind for a fantasy story that’s no fairy tale for Ruby. She grew up with the lore of how the women in her family once possessed the power to keep death at bay, till they were run out of their native Russia by men who sought to destroy them. She might think it were make believe, if not for the fact that a little magic still runs through their veins, just enough to show each woman in her line a coming-of-age vision of who they’ll be when they die. Then Ruby’s great-aunt dies in a way that doesn’t match her vision at all—and Ruby realizes that if her end isn’t as predictable as she believed, maybe her life doesn’t have to be either.

Fake it Till You Break It, by Jenn P. Nguyen (May 28)
Long titles and adorable fauxmances are Nguyen trademarks, as seen in The Way to Game the Walk of Shame and now in this tale of Mia and Jake, two teens who can’t stand each other but are constantly pushed together thanks to their moms being best friends. They’ll never have their own romantic lives if their moms won’t stop sabotaging them in the hopes that they’ll end up together, and the only way to stop it? Pretend they’ve tried dating, and then let it blow up spectacularly, so their mothers will finally understand they aren’t meant to be. But it throws a wrench into their plans when their fauxmance proves that maybe their moms were onto something after all.

The Voice in My Head, by Dana L. Davis (May 28)
Davis already made a name for herself with her beautiful handling of both family dynamics and mental health issues in debut Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, so I’m thrilled to see her returning with a novel that again centers on both. This time, the relationship at the core is a sisterly one, with Indigo facing a life that doesn’t include her twin sister, Violet, who’s terminally ill and on the verge of dying. When Indigo begins to hear God’s voice telling her that there is a way to save Violet, if only she brings her to a remote rock formation in the desert, she knows her brain must be playing tricks on her. But Violet agrees to go if the whole family will make the trip from Seattle to Arizona together—and as much as Indigo struggles with the rest of her family, there’s no disagreeing with a dying request. The trip is a mess in so many ways, but it has its worthwhile lessons, too, including how to deal with the voices that plague her.

These Witches Don’t Burn, by Isabel Sterling (May 28)
It has been glorious to see witches coming back to queer YA, and this debut full of elemental magic and romance and heartbreak is such a fun, romantic, high-stakes take. Hannah is fresh off a terrible breakup with Veronica, made all the more brutal by the fact that they’re elemental witches in the very same coven. But her romantic torture is pushed to the back burner when the remnants of a blood ritual are discovered at an end-of-year bonfire, signaling the terrible threat of a Blood Witch. Her coven may not believe that’s what’s going on, but Hannah sets out to prove it, even if it means relying on Veronica to help her. Then again, if being on the case means meeting sweet girls like new-in-town Morgan, maybe this won’t be so bad. Can Hannah and Veronica find the Blood Witch and save the coven while putting their feelings behind them for good? Or is disaster inescapable?

Switchback, by Danika Stone (May 28)
You’ve seen Stone before in cute pop culture-centric romantic contemporaries, but you’ve never seen her like this. Best friends Vale and Ash are dreading their school’s overnight hiking trip, but neither of them could’ve anticipated just how bad it would really get. When a storm separates them from their classmates in the Canadian wilderness, they’ll have to use their wits to survive the treacherous weather and wildlife and make it home.

I Love You So Mochi, by Sarah Kuhn (May 28)
Who doesn’t love celebrating May with sweet new romances, especially if those romances happen to be delicious and set in Japan? Good luck not craving Japanese cuisine at every turn of this YA debut from established graphic novel and SFF author Kuhn, which follows fashion-obsessed Kimi on an only somewhat voluntary trip to visit her grandparents in Japan. When Kimi’s mother learns her budding artist daughter has been lying to her, she thinks a spring break spent with her grandparents might be the thing to bring her back on track. The idea of reconnecting with her family and taking in some new scenery is nice, but it’s still painful for Kimi to have a rift with her mother, in addition to leaving her friends behind and bailing on their plans. One thing making it better? Meeting Akira, who helps her see and connect with the country that was once her mother’s home, creating a brand-new relationship while repairing some very important older ones.

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