If it felt like this week’s YA releases would never come, that’s because there’s so much to be excited about! Not only do we get Angie Thomas’s sophomore effort, but an extraordinary variety of fantasy, historical, and contemporary reads set during the French Revolution, the French-Breton war, 1960s Kuala Lumpur, and behind the scenes of a modern-day film set. Fighter pilots and con artists round out the list, kicking off an amazing month of reads.
On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
Thomas’s debut The Hate U Give has spent its entire shelf life (yep, eighty-some weeks) on the NY Times Bestseller list, and the film adaption continues to wrack up accolades, so the anticipation is sky-high for the author’s new novel. Rest assured, Thomas is more than up to the challenge, and so is Come Up’s protagonist, aspiring performer Brianna Jackson. As a young black woman accustomed to being underestimated, profiled, and dismissed, Bri knows she’ll have to do “double the work to get half the respect” if she’s going to make it as a rapper. She pours everything she’s feeling—about her life, her neighborhood, her family’s struggles, and problems at school—into lyrics so good you’ll wish the book came with a soundtrack.
A Danger to Herself and Others, by Alyssa Sheinmel
I’m always down for good new mental health fiction, and this one is high on my radar. Hannah knows everyone will eventually realize institutionalizing her was a mistake, that she absolutely did not purposely hurt her roommate at her summer program. It’s fine; she’ll wait it out with good behavior and whatnot, and get her freedom back in time to enjoy her senior year with everyone else. But then the one person who can force Hannah to confront what she’s doing in the institution shows up, forcing her to consider whether her presence there is a mistake after all.
The Antidote, by Shelley Sackier
Ophelia and her best friend Crown Prince Xavi have spent ten long years inside the castle of Fireli after a deadly plague forced the kids into quarantine. For Fee, the isolation meant training to become a healer. It also meant never acknowledging or using the magic that lives inside her—in the kingdom of Aethusa, the use of magic brings a death sentence. But if she doesn’t step forward, Xavi could die from a mysterious illness that’s more sinister than the original epidemic that ravaged the land.
Lady Smoke, by Laura Sebastian
In Ash Princess, princess turned prisoner Theodosia was pushed too far by the Kaiser who orphaned and tormented her. Newly empowered, she set out to reclaim her kingdom. In Lady Smoke, which picks up immediately following the events of book one, Theo has both her royal title and a prisoner of her own: Prinz Soren. Far from her oppressed people and her throne, Theodosia petitions her aunt, Dragonsbane, to help raise the army she needs at her back. But can she trust Dragonsbane, an infamous pirate with her own agenda?
Enchantee, by Gita Trelease
In this glittering historical fantasy set in the days before the French Revolution, orphaned Camille and her sickly younger sister are on the edge of eviction, grieving their parents’ deaths, and unable to free themselves from the abusive addict brother who is gambling their savings away. Reluctantly, Camille turns toward the magical ability her mother taught her to hone: magie ordinaire, which can temporarily turn objects into money, and the more dangerous magie bibelot, which allows her to transform into a card-playing baroness and infiltrate the decadent, dangerous court at Versailles. But Camille’s reliance on magic, and the dual identity it affords her, provide dangers of their own; perhaps her brother isn’t the only addict in the family.
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Courting Darkness, by Robin LaFevers
In this duology starter, a companion to LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series, and set in 1489 at the tail end of the French-Breton War, two assassins from St. Mortain’s convent are embedded deep within the French court. When assassin Sybella learns she’s in danger, she knows her fellow assassin nun, installed years before her, is equally at risk. She must uncover her identity and get her out if both are to live…but elder assassin Genevieve, tasked with protecting the Duchess of Brittany, is already upending things on her own.
The Weight of Our Sky, by Hanna Alkaf
It’s 1969 and best friends Melati and Safiyah are living in Kuala Lumpur during a tumultuous moment in history. Melati, who adores the Beatles, suffers from a pernicious obsessive-compulsive disorder that takes the form of a djinn who’s convinced her that her rituals are the only thing keeping her mother safe. When a race riot separates the teen from her mother, it’s Melati’s worst nightmare come to life. Malaysian author Alkaf immerses readers in both the time period and her protagonist’s head in this thrilling and important historical debut.
Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss, by Kasie West
Prolific fan favorite West returns with another excellent contemporary YA. A companion novel to Love, Life, and the List, Kiss centers on up-and-coming actress Lacey Barnes as she acclimates to her first big role in a high-profile film. Unfortunately, Lacey’s about to find out real life looks nothing like the movies. First off, Lacey’s young tutor, Donovan, is super cute but has somehow managed to make math even more boring than it was before. Next, the romantic lead of the flick, who’s in need of a comeback, doesn’t exactly shoot sparks with Lacey. And worse, a series of mishaps behind the scenes point to possible sabotage of Lacey’s burgeoning career. As she spends more time with Donovan, though, she realizes his straight-arrow, boy scout persona could be exactly what she needs.
No One Here is Lonely, by Sarah Everett
The author of Everyone We’ve Been knows how to both break and repair some hearts, and she’s back to do it again with the story of Eden, a girl who goes from two incredibly close relationships to none when her boyfriend, Will, is killed and she and her best friend, Lacey, drift apart. But there’s one way to reclaim Will, and that’s to engage with the account he made with a service that effectively creates a digital companion. The more Eden clings to this digital Will, the more life passes her by, until a flesh-and-blood option she’d never been able to consider before is suddenly right in her face: Lacey’s twin, Oliver. Eden finally has the chance to find real love again, but only if she can let the traces of her last one go.
Dark of the West, by Joanna Hathaway
Book one in the Glass Alliance series, a debut fantasy, is partially inspired by World War II-era Europe, but set within an original universe. Princess Aurelia Isendare has led a sheltered life, safe behind castle walls in the North, but burns for an education. Young fighter pilot Athan, the third son of a rebellious, revenge-thirsty general, is sent to befriend and spy on Aurelia, though he’d rather lead a peaceful life flying planes. With their families—not to mention the North and South—at war, the teens’ fraught and risky romance adds even more heartbreak and passion to an already intense story of espionage, political and royal machinations, and battles in the sky.
Stolen Time, by Danielle Rollins
Heartbreakers meets Back to the Future meets Doctor Who in this rollicking time-travel story set in 1913, 1980, 2077, and more, with characters from several timelines joining the action. On the day of her wedding, con artist Dorothy escapes her mother’s latest scheme by hiding out in a strange-looking aircraft, only to find herself catapulted more than 150 years into the future with the machine’s pilot, Ash, and tasked with teaming up with teens from various eras. But if they don’t locate and save the professor who invented said time machine, and set the future right, the ramifications will be devastating.
The Deceivers, by Kristen Simmons
Wizards and witches have Hogwarts, and vampires get their own academy, but where does an aspiring con artist perfect her craft? Vale Hall, of course (and if that name brings to mind Valhalla, you might be on to something…). At Vale, the headmaster welcomes students with less-than-savory pasts and expects them to collect the secrets of his enemies. The newest arrival is resourceful but downtrodden Brynn Hilder, whose penchant for separating wealthy kids from their allowances makes her an excellent scholarship recipient. Ordered to go after the son of a politician and dish any dirt she uncovers, Brynn finds herself immersed in a world where truth and lies feel indistinguishable, bending the rules isn’t enough anymore, and people in power will do anything to stay that way. Fans of Ally Carter’s Heist Society and Embassy Row will devour this clever contemporary with elements of Norse mythology.