This week in YA is a bonanza for fans of fairy-tale mashups, true crime retellings, and historical fantasy, especially if you like stories focused on sibling relationships and complex friendships. Contemporary realism lovers are covered as well, with dynamic duo Rachel Cohn and David Levithan releasing a fresh collaboration, and Jason Reynolds offering up a book-length poem for kids who dare to dream.
The Diminished, by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
In a world where nearly everyone is born with a twin, those who move through life alone are either royalty or outcasts. Those born twinless are considered anointed, including Bo, destined to rule the Alskad Empire. Then there are those, like Vi, who lose the twin they’re born with, and are therefore “Diminished,” doomed to die of grief. As the two come of age, speeding toward radically different destinies, they’re also heading toward an unlikely collision that will change their lives.
Beyond a Darkened Shore, by Jessica Leake
Ciara is a princess of an ancient northern land who protects her people by way of her ability to control the bodies and minds of their enemies. But she’s being chased by a dark omen that portends an evil even her powers can’t vanquish: a crow bearing dangerous tidings. When the crow unites her with an enemy leader who shares her visions of a coming darkness, the two must unite in the hopes of saving their world.
Ace of Shades, by Amanda Foody
Enne Salta follows her missing mother to the sinful city of New Reynes, hoping to find her and get out with her reputation intact. But her only clue to her mother’s whereabouts—a name, Levi Glaisyer—ends up attached to a street-level con. She needs his expertise and he needs her money, so the two join forces on a hunt through the city’s seedy, glittering underbelly, where Enne will learn the rules of a game she never wanted to play.
Isle of Blood and Stone, by Makiia Lucier
Full of intrigue, mythical creatures, and astonishing surprises, this historical fantasy by the acclaimed author of A Death-Struck Year will keep readers guessing from the very first page. Two newly discovered maps bring together a young king, his enigmatic cousin, and their friend—whose father, the Royal Cartographer, bequeathed to him a talent for mapmaking—in order to uncover the truth about the kingdom’s worst tragedy. Eighteen years ago, King Ulises’ older brothers were snatched by an enemy and presumed murdered. But what if that’s not true, and the maps will lead Ulises to their whereabouts? If the past is a lie, what will that mean for the future of del Mar?
Devils Unto Dust, by Emma Berquist
A gripping debut set in an alternate-history Texas post–Civil War, Dust combines elements of old westerns and zombies (here called shakes) with the grit of Winter’s Bone and The Road. After the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Willie has become a surrogate parent to her siblings, but a debt left by her irresponsible, absentee father forces her to set off in search of him or risk losing what little protection she and her family have left.
Fly Trap, by Frances Hardinge
Set in a sort of parallel 17th-century Britain, this sequel to Fly By Night, in which books are “dangerous, regulated things” that drive readers “wicked mad,” finds intrepid heroine Mosca Mye and her homicidal goose Saracen in a strange new realm called Toll. Joined once again by con artist Eponymous Clent, word-loving Mosca can’t resist the lure of adventure in a town whose criminals are only let loose at night.
Lizzie, by Dawn Ius
Read it with all the lights on! Lizzie is a modern take on one of true crime’s most gruesome mysteries. The real Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted for the axe murders of her father and stepmother in the late 1800s, while Ius’s Lizzie is a teen living under the rule of tyrannical parents. When a charming new maid joins the family’s B&B staff, Lizzie decides to take control of her own life, and not even her parents will get in the way.
Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
It’s a fab fifth collaboration from the duo behind Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List. Cohn & Levithan’s latest NYC-set romp takes place in one night—the night of twin sibs Sam and Ilsa’s high school graduation. While their aunt, Czarina, is in Paris, the twins are allowed to throw their friends (three secret guests apiece) a lavish dinner party at Czarina’s Upper West Side apartment. The people they invite are, shall we say, conflict-prone, and before the evening is through, Sam and Ilsa may have completely altered their plans for the future.
The Summer of Broken Things, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Avery and Kayla haven’t been friends since they were little. So it’s beyond awkward when Avery’s wealthy dad decides Avery will forego soccer camp this year (where all her cliquey friends spend the summer) and accompany him on a trip to Spain—with unpopular Kayla, who could never otherwise afford the trip, as her companion. Written from both girls’ points of view, it’s an intricate look at friendship dynamics, family relationships, and what happens when a shocking secret threatens to unravel the lives they thought they knew.
Picture Us In The Light, by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Artistic Danny Cheng has a scholarship to RISD, supportive parents, and a great BFF in Harry (for whom he has unrequited romantic feelings), but nothing has been the same for their group of friends since the death of a girl whom Danny can’t stop wishing he’d treated better when she was alive. Also, Danny’s parents, who emigrated from China, have been less than forthcoming about a secret from their earlier lives, the exposure of which has the potential to destroy Danny’s future. Gilbert’s debut, Conviction, was a Morris Award finalist, and this looks to be another exquisitely realistic, memorable read.
Rewind, by Carolyn O’Doherty
What if Hermione used her Time Turner to solve mysteries? In Rewind, the first in a sci-fi trilogy, sixteen-year-old Alex’s time-traveling abilities help the U.S. government investigate major crimes. As a Spinner forced to live with others of her kind, Alex is able to visit the past, but doesn’t have much of a future; Spinners don’t live beyond age twenty. Worse, Alex’s own timeline may be cut even shorter than that unless she accepts an experimental treatment with shocking side effects.
Winter Glass, by Lexa Hillyer
The second half of the multiple-POV Spindle Fire duology, in which two loyal half-sisters are subjected to evil faerie queen Malfleur’s mayhem, is full of magical curses, excitement, and romance, both boy/girl and girl/girl. Fairy tale and fantasy fans will adore the allusions to Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, as Aurora and Isbe wage war against Malfleur in a battle for the soul of the kingdom.
For Every One, by Jason Reynolds
Adapted from a performance and written in the form of a letter/poem, For Every One takes its title to heart. There’s no one who couldn’t benefit from the inspirational cheering section this swift, powerful book provides. Its gentle but fierce reminder to “keep going” is one kids will cherish, and likely return to again and again when they most need affirmation. It’s the perfect graduation gift.