New Releases: Fair Folk, FOMO, and First Kisses

This week’s new YA releases are a mixture of near-future tales and fantasy, with a fresh take on Maid Marian of Robin Hood fame, a super-creepy academy for girls, an internment camp for Muslim Americans, and a conclusion to the Blood Rose Rebellion series. Contemporary realism fans will enjoy tales about first love, a musical prodigy, and a farm girl who adores chess.

Never-Contented Things, by Sarah Porter 
The Fair Folk seduce and terrify in Porter’s latest, the tale of two human foster siblings drawn into the deadly snare of a faerie prince and his dark court. Ksenia is on the edge of aging out of foster care and being separated from Josh, two years younger and destined to be adopted into the family she’s being gently ejected from. When they stumble onto a party of beautiful, seductive revelers in the woods, it’s the prelude to a dangerous entrapment that will endanger their bond, their freedom, and their lives.

Girls With Sharp Sticks, by Suzanne Young
Enroll in Innovations Academy and learn manners, modesty, and gardening! Who needs math, science, social studies, or current events? Suppress your opinions, excel at the art of obedience, keep yourself lovely to look at, and file down any unpleasant impulses or individuality, and you’ll be rewarded with a perfect future! Not sure about the vitamins? Feeling a bit creeped out by the Guardians or headmaster? Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. There’s no reason to rise up. Compliance is its own reward…not to mention one hundred percent compulsory.

The Universal Laws of Marco, by Carmen Rodrigues 
High school senior Marco Suarez’s days are filled with school, a job at the grocery store, and aspirations of achieving a Ph.D. in astrophysics, aided by a full-ride scholarship to college in the fall. Along with his girlfriend, Erika, and his tight-knit pals, there’s no room for anything or anyone else, and that’s just fine with him—until his first kiss, Sally, returns to town after a four-year absence. When Sally took off after eighth grade, with no explanation, Marco was left reliving their spark moment on repeat, and now that she’s back, he doesn’t know how to move forward without hurting the people around him. Perhaps the answers he’s seeking can be found in the cosmos, or perhaps there are no short cuts to figuring out how to say goodbye to the people, places, and memories we hold dear.

Internment, by Samira Ahmed
One of our favorite upticks in YA lately is the number of really excellent #ownvoices books with Muslim protagonists, and Ahmed’s bestselling debut, Love, Hate, and Other Filters, was one of the early breakouts in this lovely wave. She’s back now with a sophomore novel poised to provide a much-needed punch in the face to anyone who needs it. Set “fifteen minutes into the future,” this topical thriller stars seventeen-year-old Layla, forced into an internment camp for Muslim Americans along with her parents. But Layla won’t be kept down for long, and soon she’s forging new alliances, making use of old ones, and preparing to fight for her freedom.

Sherwood, by Meagan Spooner
Robin Hood is dead, and Maid Marian is left holding the broken pieces of his legacy in Spooner’s new retelling of a classic tale. Those suffering under the Sheriff of Nottingham still need a champion, and Marian never wanted to step into Robin’s shoes. But now, grieving her lost fiancé and facing the unwanted romantic attentions of the sheriff’s right-hand man, she might find she’s the only one who can.

Fear of Missing Out, by Kate McGovern
For Astrid, FOMO is way more than a hashtag. Her fear of missing out is rooted in the dark reality that she’s dying of brain cancer. A new technology, cryopreservation, suggests that Astrid may have a chance to beat death by freezing her body until a cure has been found. Her boyfriend and her best friend agree to join her on a road trip for answers, but the real journey is one that Astrid must take alone, as she figures out what it means to live her life to the fullest at the age of sixteen. Do NOT read without tissues.

Night Music, by Jenn Marie Thorne
Classical music has always ruled Ruby’s life, until her audition for a prestigious music school goes horribly awry and it becomes clear performance isn’t in her future—even if her father happens to be on the faculty at said school. But when her father takes on the brilliant and wildly talented Oliver, who has already made a name for himself on YouTube and has no shortage of confidence in his skills, it’s clear there’s something in music that still makes Ruby feel alive. With so much to prove to the world and to themselves, following their hearts may be a dangerous gamble, no matter how beautiful the music they make together.

The Weight of the Stars, by K. Ancrum
Ancrum’s newest is a soft and gorgeous near-future romance about a butch girl named Ryann whose life is a constant struggle (including the loss of her parents, her brother’s selective mutism after the accident, and the baby he brought home for them to raise in their small trailer), and Alexandria, the extremely tough new girl whose life is defined by events that happened before she was born. When Ryann’s teacher asks her to befriend Alexandria, sharing that she’s the infamous uninaut baby—conceived by an astronaut just before her one-way mission into space—Ryann has to say yes. With her own love for space, fostered by her mother’s work for NASA, she’s the only one who can understand Alexandria’s passion. Plus, Ryann has something of a history of bringing kids with tough backgrounds into the fold, and her found family of friends is up for the task. But she has no idea what she’s truly in for when she agrees to help Alexandria work on receiving messages from her mother, or how far she’ll go to make her new friend happy.

Small Town Hearts, by Lillie Vale
With the future on the horizon, life is about to change in a major way for Babe Vogel. Her best friends are going to college, her ex-girlfriend is back in Oar’s Rest and wreaking havoc on Babe’s heart, and suddenly there’s Levi, who’s spending way too much time at the coffee shop where Babe works…and in her thoughts. Living in a beach town, she knows the number one rule is you never fall for a summer tourist who’s only going to leave you behind before the leaves even start changing. But what happens when the heart won’t stop wanting what it wants?

The Next to Last Mistake, by Amalie Jahn
Tess is a Midwest farm girl through and through, having grown up on her family’s dairy farm in Iowa. She prefers the company of chessboards and cows to people, and with the exception of farmboy-next-door Zander, she has trouble relating to her classmates. A sudden move to North Carolina because of her dad’s reenlistment in the military exacerbates the situation; Tess fears she’ll fit in even less in her new surroundings. Instead, she finds her eyes opened to teens from other backgrounds in this tender coming-of-age story.

Winter War Awakening, by Rosalyn Eves
Book three in the thrilling 19th-century fantasy series Blood Rose Rebellion wraps up the tale of Anna Arden, whose unique ability to break spells rather than cast them turned her into a target. With her cousin Matyas by her side, Anna attempts to contain the fallout from the broken Binding that unleased the magical praetheria, who are hellbent on war against the Austro-Hungarian empire that imprisoned them. To achieve their aims, they’ve taken Noemi (Anna and Matyas’s other cousin), hostage, and to save her, Anna and Matyas may have to do what they least want to: separate.

Between the Water and the Woods, by Simone Snaith, Sara Kipin (illustrator)
This fantasy with seven full-page illustrations finds Emeline and her brother and father venturing from their village to warn the ailing king of a Dark Creature they saw in the forest but whom not everyone believes in. The royal capital is rife with power-hungry factions holding opposite beliefs about the supernatural, and both sides are determined to claim the king’s vindication. But it’s Emeline and her inherited magical abilities that may hold the key to the king’s fate.

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