It’s a lighter release week this time around, but that just means you can give extra attention to these five, which include some very exciting new debuts and returns from some great names.
I Hope You Get This Message, by Farah Naz Rishi
When Jesse, Cate, and Adeem learn that aliens might destroy Earth within the week, they have to decide how they want to spend the time left. Cate’s certain how she wants to do it: find the father she never met. Adeem’s got thoughts, too: he’d like to see whether he can forgive his estranged sister for leaving. But after everything Jesse’s suffered, he’s not sure he cares to do anything at all. Then Jesse turns out to provide the hope the country’s needed, in the form of messages sent to the alien planet Alma, who’s effectively holding Earth hostage, thanks to one of his late father’s inventions. And so the three teens are brought together for their potential final days in this thoughtful debut that explores humanity, hope, and the world at large.
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters, by Emily Roberson
Greek mythology goes fully modern in this debut about a girl named Ariadne whose royal family is always in the eye of the media, especially thanks to their show The Labyrinth Contest, which has her bringing fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. The prize is fame and bragging rights, but in ten seasons, no one’s ever won it…and to lose is to die. So when Theseus arrives as a contestant and asks for Ariadne’s help and she realizes she really doesn’t want him to lose, she’s torn: his victory means the end of her family’s most successful endeavor, and potentially their empire, not to mention the death of the monster. But if he loses, it means she loses the boy that’s stolen her heart.
Light it Up, by Kekla Magoon
Magoon has written no shortage of groundbreaking work, and this follow-up to How it Went Down, told in a similar vignette style, promises to be no exception. It follows what happens when a thirteen-year-old girl is shot on her way home, and nothing but excuses about everything from her height making her look like an adult to her not listening to the officer (she was wearing headphones when the officer called after her) comes in response. Now we see the aftermath of a community divided, some wanting justice and some wanting to reinforce white supremacy, and none of it able to bring the girl back home.
Among the Fallen, by Victoria Frances Schwartz
This Victorian-set novel stars Orpha, a sixteen-year-old orphan wrongly imprisoned for her own sexual abuser’s crimes at the infamous Tothill. When she gets the chance to move to a home for “fallen girls” called Urania House, where she can learn skills before emigrating to the colonies, she leaps at it, and finds herself mentored by none other than Charles Dickens. Under his tutelage, she finds a voice and learns how to make a future for herself despite the horrific traumas of her past.
The Escape of Light, by Fred Venturini
Wilder’s father has died, his mother is working so hard she’s practically disappeared, and he’s feeling more alone than ever, especially with the burn scars that shatter his confidence. But his new high school is nothing like he expects, and soon Wilder has a new best friend, a love interest, and a talent for basketball that keeps him on the safe side, and lets another student take all the bullying his classmates have to offer. When his good fortune falls apart, Wilder decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands and undergo a procedure to “fix” the scars, no matter what it costs.