The long wait is over—Neil Gaiman’s fantastic American Gods is finally coming to the small screen at the end of April! While you wait to see Shadow, Wednesday, Mad Sweeney, and all of Gaiman’s other amazing characters brought to life, check out these five YA novels that should fit right in on your bookshelf next to American Gods.
Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini
There once was a girl from Nantucket…no, this isn’t a limerick. It’s the beginning of Starcrossed, in which high schooler Helen Hamilton has to deal with a new family in her small community of Nantucket. New folks wouldn’t normally be a problem, except for the fact that Helen really, really wants to kill all of them. And she has no idea why. One of them, Lucas Delos, joins her class when the new school year begins, and the two become inseparable—despite kind of hating each other, too. On top of that, Helen has powers she doesn’t understand (speed, healing) and can’t fully control. It turns out she, and many others, are descended from the Greek gods, and are playing out centuries-old grudges. Angelini spins a fine web of high school drama mixed with legit ancient Greek drama in this tale of love and gods in the modern world.
Bull, by David Elliott
The just-published Bull is a feisty, fresh, and inventive retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur…in verse! It reads like a mythological Hamilton. Elliott gives us a fired up and modernized set of hard-hitting rhymes in adapting the story for the present day, going deep into the heart and soul of his title character—the Minotaur—and showing who he is beyond his god-cursed status. Elliott also brings to vivid life the Minotaur’s family, as well as wannabe monster-slayer Theseus. He humanizes all of them, brings the poignancy hard, and still manages to make the language fizz with humor and power. If you’re looking for a thrilling retelling of a classic tale of gods and monsters, you need this.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
If you haven’t read this yet, now’s the time. Ness’s most recent novel (at least until Release is published later this year) takes a look at those of us who are somehow not the Chosen One. Set in a high school in the Pacific Northwest, the story focuses on Mike, a teen battling OCD, whose best friend just happens to be a god (of cats, which is a pretty awesome kind of god to be, tbh). Mike and his crew are just trying to get by, while their high school’s Chosen Ones, here known as the “indie kids,” have to deal with the latest interdimensional invasion of higher-powered beings. Much like Ness’s superlative Doctor Who spinoff Class, this is a clear-eyed, street-level look at teens with very human problems who just happen to have aliens and monsters running around their school. Beautifully told, beautifully written, and utterly compelling and compassionate.
The Chaos of Stars, by Kiersten White
Isodora isn’t happy, and it’s no mystery as to why. She lives in an ancient temple in Egypt as the mortal daughter of two legit Egyptian gods, Isis and Osiris. She’s not too happy about the fact that they decided to make her mortal—it does seem a little unfair—so when her mother has disturbing dreams that seem to reveal her daughter is in danger, Isodora jumps at the chance to leave for San Diego, to stay with relatives. Convinced she’s finally free of all that mythological drama, Isodora tries to lead a normal life, which includes falling for brooding poet Orion. Of course, she’s not even close to being free from the drama, and as danger closes in, she has to decide just how far from her family she really wants to be.
Bloodtide, by Melvin Burgess
When it was published, Burgess’s retelling of an old Norse god saga, set in a bombed-out, dystopian London, caused controversy and challenged its YA categorization with graphic content. While it may sit at the older end of the YA spectrum, it’s a dizzyingly inventive take on gods, shapeshifters, and all manner of supernatural creatures fighting out their ancient wars in a burned-out cityscape. It’s poetic, dark, epic in its vision, and disturbing in its clarity.