This week’s most exciting releases include a road trip from hell, a fancy cruise from hell, and a search for family secrets that leads to the wrong kind of attention from the yakuza. So basically don’t leave the house this summer, just stay in and read. From a near-future heartbreaker exploring the power of forgetting to an Emerald City reboot, here are the books we’re posing with for our senior portraits this week:
More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera
In Silvera’s knockout debut, Aaron Soto lives with his mom and brother in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, in a near-future world that’s just like our own—but for the existence of a memory-suppressing procedure that allows trauma survivors a chance to live a normal life. Aaron, struggling with his disappointed father’s death and the realization that he’s gay, is drawn to the procedure, with all its promise and peril—relief from pain; abandonment of responsibility. But weird science remains at the fringes for most of his story, one of love and expectation and self-discovery, and of declaring yourself to a world that won’t give you a soft landing.
Like It Never Happened, by Emily Adrian
Rebecca Rivers is a high-school actress who seems to have it made, the de facto leader of the “Essential Five,” a group of five drama kids who’ve made a pact never to date. But those kinds of pacts are made to be broken, and Rebecca’s new relationship with one of the five becomes the first domino to fall, kicking off clique infighting and nasty rumors, on top of the family drama Rebecca’s facing at home. Adrian’s heroine is given the space and the impetus to grow in interesting ways in this layered debut.
The Devil You Know, by Trish Doller
As the old saying goes, “Never go to a second location with hot cousins you’ve just met at a bonfire.” But small-town adventure seeker Arcadia, feeling suffocated by family responsibilities, doesn’t heed it. She heads out for an impromptu road trip with Matt and Noah, a journey rife with terrifying warning signs—there’s more to these boys than meets the eye. Expect a dark and twisty road ahead.
Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani
When Japanese American suburban girl Claire Takata goes digging for answers about the father she never knew, what she finds puts herself and everyone she loves in danger. Her long-dead father may have had ties to the yakuza crime syndicate, and now Claire has drawn the eye of the wrong person from his past. As she searches for answers, the noose tightens, and the suspense turns up to 11.
Spelled, by Betsy Schow
Princess Dorthea of Emerald bears little resemblance to Princess Dorothy of Oz, being a spoiled, Emerald Palace native who just wants to get out of arranged marriage with an arrogant prince. But after she wishes on the seriously wrong star, her parents are magically exiled, her kingdom’s put in peril, and she’s forced to leave the palace walls to save her world from a big, bad witch. Her journey across Oz is full of fun fairy-tale references and awesomely creepy new inventions.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me, by Leah Thomas
Ollie and Moritz are two genuine outsiders living separately in enforced isolation, who forge a life-saving friendship through letters. Ollie’s epilepsy makes him, essentially, allergic to electricity, and Moritz was born eyeless and with a damaged heart. Their distance allows them to build an intimate bond in this deeply original tale, full of moving reveals and sci-fi elements.
Skyscraping, by Cordelia Jensen
Jensen’s verse novel unfolds in a 1993 New York stricken by the AIDS crisis, where college-bound senior Miranda’s life loses its balance after she discovers her father (still married to her mother) with his male lover. The novel works as a coming of age, a ’90s time capsule, and a lyrical exploration of both the decade’s preoccupations, and the kind that transcend time.
Devoted, by Jennifer Mathieu
Both protected and restricted by her family’s extreme adherence to their fundamentalist Texas church, home-schooled Rachel finds herself questioning the costs of devotion. She starts defying the rules she lives by first subtly and then outright, until she finds herself facing a terrifying crossroads between giving in entirely or finding herself in exile.
The Witch Hunter, by Virginia Boecker
In this darkly magical series starter set in an alt England, inquisitor Lord Blackwell messes with the wrong witch hunter. Though Elizabeth is in the inquisitor’s employ, and firmly on the side of the law in a world where magic is outlawed, she’s slated for death when discovered in possession of herbs. She starts to question her own anti-magic prejudices after a wizard saves her from death and asks her to be his ally, plunging her into a fascinating netherworld of magic practitioners, and life as a fugitive.
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer
Four friends who’ve drifted apart cross paths again at a summer camp reunion—then are zapped four years back in time by some strange, photo-booth magic. In the blink of an eye they’re planted back in their last year at summer camp, and must fix (and relive) their old mistakes without derailing the future.
The Last Leaves Falling, by Sarah Benwell
This melancholy debut centers on a Kyoto teen with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), trying to make sense of his condition and peace with his impending death. Unexpected friendship and Samurai poetry help him find meaning, joy, and dignity in the final days of his life.
Sweet, by Emmy Laybourne
Set on a cruise ship sponsored by Solu, a delicious new sweetener that actually causes weight loss, Sweet is told in alternating chapters by normal girl Laurel and former child star Tom, who fall in love as the ship devolves into Solu-induced chaos. It’s a creepy, candy-bright story with blood under its nails.
Joyride, by Anna Banks
After witnessing him committing an odd crime, first-generation Mexican American Carly starts to fall for Anglo American golden boy Arden, the son of a racist local sheriff. Soon they become accomplices in an escalating series of daring pranks, and what starts as a grudging friendship grows into something more intense. But Arden’s dangerous dad and Carly’s ambition to smuggle her parents back into the U.S. complicate their headlong love affair—and a late-breaking twist ratchets up the tension to an almost unbearable degree.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, by Sarah Ockler
In this riff on “The Little Mermaid,” the singer who’s lost both her voice and her beloved Caribbean Ocean is Elyse d’Abreau, who leaves her Tobago home for Oregon after an accident ends her dreams of musical stardom. There she meets a boy with a boat, a purpose, and an eye for the ladies, and a sexy romance begins.