Happy October! You know a month is destined to be good when it kicks off with a release day, and especially when it kicks off with this kind of release day, featuring rom-coms and revenge plots and slow-burn queer fantasy and super spooky tales and inspiring activism just so many ghosts. It’s a multi-faceted day of must reads, so settle in and find twelve perfect ways to spend the day!
The Good Luck Girls, by Charlotte Nicole Davis
This debut is a straight-up dazzler, billed as Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale and definitely living up to its comps. It centers on a group of five girls—Aster, Violet, Tansy, Mallow, and Clementine—who were all sold to a “welcome house” and rebranded with both their floral names and literal brands as children. When young Clementine accidentally kills an important man who’s come a-calling, the girls know they have to get her out of there, and that the time to save the rest of their lives has begun. Together, they go on the run, desperate for justice and salvation that may never come, with only the hope that a legend passed down through generations of Good Luck girls is true enough to yield the key.
Fake, by Donna Cooner
Maisie is sick of being teased for being fat, and she decides it’s time to do something about it. Online, she turns herself into Sienna, who’s skinny and beautiful and easily befriends the most popular kids at school. Not that Maisie herself is interested in those friendships; it’s just step one toward taking them down. But the more she chats with her new “friends,” the greater the changes grow of her being figured out, especially when the real girl behind the pictures makes an appearance.
Now Entering Adamsville, by Francesca Zappia
I happen to be of the opinion that Zappia is one of YA’s most brilliant and underrated authors (please go read Eliza and Her Monsters and tell me there is any arguing with that), so I am extremely thrilled to be able to include her in this preview for the first time. Her third book stars Zora, an asexual girl who’s framed for a crime she didn’t commit when someone sets fire to the school janitor’s house and kills him in the blaze. Zora’s innocent, but she has no idea who the real killer is, and in a town with a ghostly past, she only has so much time to solve the mystery before she becomes the killer’s next victim
Rebel, by Marie Lu
Just when you thought the Legend series was done, Lu pulls you back in with this fourth installment, starring Day’s little brother, Eden, who dreams of shedding that particular identity. Sure, Day’s a hero, but Eden’s a success in his own right, a top student at school and a wildly impressive inventor. Not to mention the fact that Day is more recluse than public hero these days, content to live a private life with June and do whatever he needs to do to keep Eden safe. But as they grow more distant, Eden feels a continued pull to the dark side of Ross City, the Antarctican city that’s home to his elite school…a pull that may lead to dangers too great for even Day to overcome.
10 Blind Dates, by Ashley Elston
Sophie desperately needs a break from her parents, and a Christmas in which they go off to Louisiana to be with her very pregnant sister is the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, her boyfriend also wants a break, which isn’t exactly what Sophie had planned. Miserable, Sophie seeks solace in spending the holiday with her grandparents and wacky extended clan, and there she’s presented with a plan: Sophie must go on ten dates, each one selected by a member of the family. It’s definitely different…and Sophie agrees, subjecting herself to some of the most ridiculous dates she could never have imagined. Then Griffin comes crawling back, which would’ve been exactly what Sophie wanted, if only she hadn’t already gone and fallen for someone else—someone sweet, hot, familiar, taken, and completely off limits.
Crier’s War, by Nina Varela
Look, I can and will tell you the plot of this debut series opener, but can we all be honest about the fact that “slow burn enemies-to-lovers f/f fantasy” is all we really need to know? Or that you probably didn’t even to look past that stunning cover to know you’d sell an organ for it? Okay, now that we’ve been up front about that, meet Ayla, the human handmaiden to the Automae Crier, who plots to avenge the destruction of her family and people by killing the very princess she serves. And meet Crier, who was designed to be beautiful and perfect, only to discover she was designed with a bonus “flaw” she’ll do anything to keep hidden. As Ayla learns there’s more good to Crier than she’d thought, and Crier learns there’s more evil to both her father and her betrothed than she’d thought, the two are drawn together. But as war wages between humans and Automae, falling in love might just be the most dangerous act either could commit.
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, by Laura Ruby
YA fans already know Ruby well from her Printz-winning Bone Gap, but she’s changing up genres with her newest, set in Chicago during World War II and starring Frankie, who’s living with her siblings in an orphanage after the death of her mother and disappearance of her father. Her dad was supposed to return as soon as he made enough money to take care of them, but when he shows up for a weekend visit that turns out to be his final goodbye as he takes off for greener pastures with his new wife, Frankie and her sister, Toni, are now on their own, forcing Frankie to figure out how to make a life in a world that’s burning to embers around them. This ghostly tale just got named a finalist for the National Book Award, so if you somehow needed any more of a push to dive into Ruby’s newest world, consider it done.
The Last True Poets of the Sea, by Julia Drake
This debut is a straight-up stunner that creeps up on you with every page until it’s completely consumed your heart and soul. It follows Violet Larkin, who’s spending the summer with her uncle in Lyric, the coastal Maine town founded by her famous ancestor, Fidelia, who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck. The summer is intended to put some space between wild, hard-partying Violet and her family, which feels more necessary than ever following her brother Sam’s suicide attempt. Wracked with guilt for ignoring signs of Sam’s deep depression, Violet becomes obsessed with the idea of finding the wreck, a dream the two of them had had as children. She enlists her new friends—including her sweet and gorgeous coworker, Orion, and the intensely brilliant Liv, who has her own fixation on the wreck—to hunt it down, but lands in a complicated love triangle that threatens to drown them all, if their mission doesn’t do it first.
The Memory Thief, by Lauren Mansy
Etta despises living in the corrupt city of Craewick where memories serve as currency, citizens are divided by their abilities, and the Gifted can take memories at will with no more than a touch. She’s had enough of living under ruler Madam’s thumb, but she’s also struggling with her guilt over an accident that left her mother asylum-bound. Then her mother is put up for auction, her memories out there for purchase by the highest bidder before she’s killed, and Etta will do anything to save her…even join the rebel group she swore to leave behind and embark on a dangerous mission that will change her life forever.
Shadow Frost, by Coco Ma
You know what I could always stand to see more of in YA? Powerful princesses who happen to be demon hunters, and then maybe discover that they’re actually being targeted in an assassination plot, and then realize they and their friends have been raised in a web of lies and maybe the deceit is coming from within, and then realize they don’t know who they can trust or how far they’ll have to go to save the world as they know it. What’s that you say? I’ve just described the plot of this exact debut? Well isn’t that convenient??
Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance, ed. by Bethany C. Morrow
What could be more inspirational than a diverse group of your faves writing about activism? There are so many great names in this collection, contributing marginalized perspectives via prose, poetry, and art, and it’s a solid mix of familiar bestsellers, authors who are just launching their careers, and established writers getting into YA for their first time. (Though several of the contributors, including the editor herself, have debut YA novels coming up in the next two years, so when you find your fave contributions? You’re gonna wanna remember those authors’ names, because you’re about to see a whole lot more of them!)
Creep, by Eireann Corrigan
It doesn’t get much more Halloween-perfect than a book this creeptastic, about a girl named Olivia whose new neighbors are being threatened by notes from someone calling themselves the Sentry. Olivia’s gotten close with one of those neighbors, Janie Donahue, and together, they explore Janie’s new house, which had been suddenly vacated by its previous owners in the middle of the night. What they find as they explore both the home and the town is that there’s no shortage of scary secrets, including a history the Sentry would rather remain buried.