Summer Reading Preview: 40 YA Books You Don’t Want to Miss

We came to summer to do two things: chase the ice-cream truck and read new releases. And we just ran out of Choco Tacos. This list just scratches the surface of the delights in store for readers in the hot months, but it’s a good place to start when stuffing your “I’d rather be reading Leigh Bardugo” tote for your very first beach trip/bench read/ice-cream truck chase of the season.

June

Tash Hearts Tolstoy, by Kathryn Ormsbee (June 6)
Why we’re excited: Viral fame comes unexpectedly to Tolstoy fangirl and vlogger Tash in this funny debut about the perils of too much internet attention, too quickly. In the beloved tradition of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (<3), Tash’s web series, Unhappy Families, is a modern update on Anna Karenina. A nod from a web superstar throws it into the public eye, and with new followers comes an unexpected opportunity for IRL romance, as Tash grapples with how to reveal her asexuality to her new crush.
Pair with: An Anna Karenina co-read in the shade of a stately oak

Song of the Current, by Sarah Tolcser (June 6)
Why we’re excited: Tolcser’s debut, set in a watery world of nature gods, royal intrigue, and the river-faring life, is a good old-fashioned fantasy adventure. Caro is a wherryman’s daughter, sailing up and down the river delivering goods with a side of smuggling. But when she’s blackmailed into making a dangerous run without her father, and is forced into an alliance with a mysterious courier, her life becomes a lot more complicated—and her horizons far wider.
Pair with: A bracing swim in the sea (or a ferry ride)

The Sandcastle Empire, by Kayla Olson (June 6)
Why we’re excited: In Olson’s vision of a dystopian future, all government order in the U.S. has been replaced by the Wolfpack, a brutal group that has thrown much of the country’s population into work camps. Eden has escaped from a camp with three other girls in the hopes of navigating to Sanctuary Island, using navigational instructions her father left behind. Once they arrive, however, they find themselves being sucked into a thickening plot to overthrow the overlords.
Pair with: A crash course on navigating by the stars

Words in Deep Blue, by Cath Crowley (June 6)
Why we’re excited: Following the drowning death of her beloved younger brother, Rachel flees the seaside to live with her aunt in her Australian hometown. There, she picks up the life she left behind, including a complicated bond with former best friend Henry. Henry spends his days pining for his ex and working at his family’s financially rocky bookshop, known for its Letter Library, a shelf full of letters stuck in books meant to be found by random or specific recipients. Henry ignored the love letter Rachel left for him before her departure, and he doesn’t know about her loss now, in a story about grief and recovery, forgiveness and new beginnings.
Pair with: Tucking secrets into the pages of books + a trip to a Little Free Library

Once and for All, by Sarah Dessen (June 6)
Why we’re excited: Sarah Dessen! Summer romance! As the daughter of a celebrated wedding planner, Louna knows what happily ever after is supposed to look like, she’s just not sure she believes in it. Her own first love story ended badly, and she’s determined not to go through that again—and then Ambrose shows up, a boy with a serial dating history who’s convinced they’re meant to be.
Pair with: Sneaking away from a party to kick off your shoes

Midnight at the Electric, by Jodi Lynn Anderson (June 13)
Why we’re excited: I’ve been hooked on Anderson’s work since Tiger Lily, her luminous, feminist take on Neverland. In her latest, the stories of three girls, separated by distance and decades, come together into one moving tapestry of tales. Meet Lenora, a bereaved sister in post-World War I Britain; Catherine, barely surviving in Oklahoma’s brutal Dust Bowl of the 1930s; and Adri, preparing in 2065 to become a colonist on Mars, and suss out their delicately drawn connections through shared narration.
Pair with: A melancholy walk under the moon

Want, by Cindy Pon (June 13)
Why we’re excited: Pon’s dreadfully timely tale imagines a future Taipei in which the air is so poisonous only the rich survive past their 40s, through the use of prohibitively expensive air-filtering suits. With the help of a network of well-connected resisters, Zhou sets out to infiltrate the city’s upper crust in order to bring it down from the inside…but doesn’t contend with finding love with the exact wrong girl.
Pair with: A sunny day at a resistance march

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2), Victoria Schwab (June 13)
Why we’re excited: In 2016’s This Savage Song, Schwab introduced the dark city of Verity, teeming with monsters born out of human violence that subsist on human souls. Kate, a crime lord’s daughter, and August, a monster in human form, are unlikely allies who must face an evil more deadly and insidious than any they’ve met before.
Pair with: Classical music (the kind August would use to steal your soul)

Saints and Misfits, by S.K. Ali (June 13)
Why we’re excited: Janna Yusuf is a self-described misfit who’s juggling the breakup of her family, a non-Muslim crush, and deciding whether or not to uncover a monster in her community: a boy from her mosque who tried to rape her, but hides behind a pious mask. This is an #ownvoices title that’s getting fantastic buzz as a voicey must-read.
Pair with: A My So-Called Life binge

Be True to Me, by Adele Griffin (June 13)
Why we’re excited: The latest from the author of The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is set in the mid-1970s in a moneyed enclave on Fire Island, where two girls—a have and a have not—are competing for the affections of the same boy against a backdrop of seemingly endless summer. The two girls share narration in a tale of first love, rivalry, and what happens behind closed doors.
Pair with: Your feet in the pool and a box of Rocket Pops

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee (June 27)
Why we’re excited: BFFs Monty and Percy are set to take the Continent by storm, before settling into the lives their parents have planned for them: Monty will step into his detestable father’s shoes, and Percy…is destined for something much darker. But their well-laid plans go poof when they become the targets of a manhunt after Monty sort-of-accidentally steals a mysterious object from a royal hanger-on. With Monty’s steely sister in tow, the boys set off on a far different tour than expected…and Monty discovers his love for Percy may not be so unrequited after all.
Pair with: Somewhere to put all your feels

Now I Rise, by Kiersten White (June 27)
Why we’re excited: The sequel to And I Darken, one of my favorite books of 2016, is finally here, telling the second chapter in the story of fierce Lada, a genderbent Vlad the Impaler; her brother, Radu, who excels at more insidious forms of statesmanship; and Mehmed, the young, conquest-hungry sultan they both love. Mehmed has his sights set on taking Constantinople, Lada longs to reclaim her homeland of Wallachia, and Radu is caught between loyalty to the man who may never love him back, and the sister whose love has always felt double-edged.
Pair with: An And I Darken reread, obvi

Aftercare Instructions, by Bonnie Pipkin (June 27)
Why we’re excited: When Genesis is left at Planned Parenthood by her boyfriend, Peter, just after she has ended her pregnancy, the betrayal razes her plans for their future together. She’s an aspiring actress whose family tragedies—a deeply depressed mother, a dead father, and all the gossip that surrounds his death—have caused her to put her dreams aside. In a book that incorporates passages written as scenes from a play, Gen navigates her life’s new order, making wild missteps and taking crazy chances on her way to figuring out who she’s meant to be.
Pair with: Acts of boldness and daring

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, by Julie Israel (June 27)
Why we’re excited: The death of Juniper’s older sister is still fresh when Juniper discovers the intriguing letter she left behind: a breakup note to a mysterious recipient referred to only as “You,” written on the day Camille died. Juniper devotes herself to discovering the intended recipient and delivering the letter, but what she finds instead is a whole host of revelations about who her sister really was.
Pair with: Shaking out old books and thumping on walls in search of secrets

If Birds Fly Back, by Carlie Sorosiak (June 27)
Why we’re excited: Ever since her sister climbed out her bedroom window one night and never came back, Linny has been obsessed with disappearances—and returns. Sebastian, meanwhile, is an information junkie, who’s missing one of the must crucial facts of all: his birth father’s name. The sudden reappearance after three years of Alvaro Herrera, their favorite cult film director and novelist, sets them both on a path of connection and discovery.
Pair with: Cult film viewing party

 

 

 

 

July

The Disappearances, by Emily Bain Murphy (July 4)
Why we’re excited: In World War II–era England, following the death of their mother, Juliet, Aila and her prickly younger brother are sent to live in Juliet’s clannish hometown. The town still holds a mysterious grudge against their mother, who may have something to do with the string of supernatural disappearances that plague it: every seven years, something is lost, from scents to reflections. As the time for the next disappearance draws nearer, Aila burrows deeper into the town’s mysteries, and her mother’s secrets.
Pair with: Ruminations on lost summers past

Waste of Space, by Gina Damico (July 11)
Why we’re excited: Waste of Space is the hottest new reality show to hit the airwaves. Ten diverse teens are stuffed into a spaceship and sent into orbit (or so they believe), where they argue, flirt, and face increasingly bizarre challenges for the audience back home. Then disaster strikes: all transmissions from the outside world are cut off, leaving the teens utterly isolated. The book is told in the form of transcripts and other records, Illuminae-style.
Pair with: Stargazing

What to Say Next, by Julie Buxbaum (July 11)
Why we’re excited: Buxbaum made us happy cry last year with Tell Me Three Things, and now she’s back with the tale of two teens who forge a life-changing friendship. Kit just lost her father, and grief has made her a stranger to herself. David, a teen on the spectrum, has always been different, offering blunt honesty that has alienated him from his peers. Though they feel like misfits, they fit well together—but soon their relationship faces an unexpected, possibly unsurvivable, obstacle.
Pair with: Phone call to your BFF

Daughter of the Burning City, by Amanda Foody (July 25)
Why we’re excited: Buxbaum’s debut is set in the dark and dangerous Gomorrah Festival, where heroine Sorina has grown up making tangible, humanoid illusions audience members can see and interact with. They’re also her de facto family, so when someone starts killing them off—a seemingly impossible fate for something that wasn’t exactly alive to begin with—she pairs up with a fellow Gomorrah worker to chase down the truth.
Pair with: A visit to the county fair to chase down dark delights…or, ya know, funnel cake

Who’s That Girl, by Blair Thornburgh (July 11)
Why we’re excited: Natalie has a brief encounter with local hottie royalty one night at a summer party, and thinks little of it…until the boy in question, Sebastian Delacroix, hits the airwaves with super-hot new single “Natalie.” His star is on the rise, he and Natalie are communicating in cagey texts, and the fact that she just might be the object of his now-legendary desire is seriously throwing a kink into her senior year…especially her shifting relationship with long-time friend Zach.
Pair with: A playlist of all your most nostalgic summertime favorites

The Library of Fates, by Aditi Khorana (July 18)
Why we’re excited: Princess Amrita lived an idyllic life in her kingdom of Shalingar until the arrival of the ruthless Emperor Sikander. In an effort to keep the peace, Amrita offers herself up as his bride. She is rejected, and the palace placed under siege by Sikander’s forces. When Amrita escapes, it’s with oracle Thala in tow, who convinces Amrita to seek out the mythical Library of Fates.
Pair with: Road trip!

The Last Magician, by Lisa Maxwell (July 18)
Why we’re excited: Magic is nearly extinct in Maxwell’s alt contemporary New York, possessed only by a handful of remaining Mageus. These wielders of magic live hidden lives, held by a barrier known as the Brink that traps them within the island of Manhattan. Esta has the ability to travel through time, stealing magical objects from the creators of the Brink, and she’s about to embark on her most dangerous journey yet: a trip to 1902 Manhattan, to retrieve a magical book before its destruction.
Pair with: The Magicians on Syfy (or on the page)

Witchtown, by Cory Putnam Oakes (July 18)
Why we’re excited: Macie and mom Aubra are seasoned grifters with an unusual target: Havens, designated communities where witches can practice their craft freely. Now they’ve arrived at Witchtown—which, Aubra promises, will be their last grift—and Macie couldn’t be more ready to change their morally questionable lifestyle. The unmagical teen, or “Void,” insinuates herself into this latest Haven, but soon learns Witchtown has secrets that run even deeper than her own.
Pair with: Listening in on interesting conversations at cafes

What Goes Up, by Katie Kennedy (July 18)
Why we’re excited: The author of Learning to Swear in America looks back to the stars in her latest, centered on two teen applicants to NASA’s mysterious, highly secretive Interworlds Agency. Being accepted promises to change the lives of overachiever Rosa and Eddie, on the run from a bad family situation, but what exactly are they getting into? They’ll navigate fierce competition on their way to taking on an other-dimensional threat.
Pair with: An ET rewatch

The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash, by Candace Ganger (July 25)
Why we’re excited: Birdie and Bash meet at a party, then are torn away from each other before they can exchange information. Days later, they become embroiled in the same hit-and-run tragedy. As they cross paths again and grow closer, Bash puts off sharing his part in what happened, until it may be too late for them…
Pair with: Responsible driving

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls, by Lauren Karcz (July 25)
Why we’re excited: This debut explores the magical realistic journey a blocked artist takes back to her creative self. Mercedes’ abuela lies in a coma, her mother is in Puerto Rico tending to her, and her best friend, Victoria, doesn’t know Mercedes is in love with her. But the arrival of an odd new neighbor heralds Mercedes’ entrance into a mystical artists’ enclave at the abandoned Red Mangrove Estate, where suddenly she’s creating more than ever before.
Pair with: Revisiting that half-finished novel on your laptop, that sketchbook under your bed, that musical instrument gathering dust…

Little Monsters, by Kara Thomas (July 25)
Why we’re excited: Kacey has just left a messy home life with her mother behind, for a ready-made stepfamily with the father she has never met. There she falls in with two new best friends, as well as a tagalong younger half-sister. On the night when everything goes wrong, one friend goes missing, and her little sister is left distraught, kicking off a mystery that threatens to tear Kacey’s too-good-to-be-true new life apart.
Pair with: Looking all gift horses in the mouth

First We Were IV, by Alexandra Sirowy (July 25)
Why we’re excited: Nothing says summer like a good “secret society gone wrong” tale, which Sirowy’s third novel promises to deliver. Four longtime friends are rebels with a cause, taking down targets and drawing the interest of outsiders, but soon their hunger for justice shades into something more dangerous, culminating in the dark events teased in the book’s opening pages.
Pair with: Black coffee and casual nihilism

 

 

 

 

August

When I Am Through With You, by Stephanie Kuehn (August 1)
Why we’re excited: Kuehn’s latest dark psychological thriller told in crystalline prose follows a group of teens into the wooded mountains outside their tiny town, where dangers and personal demons await. When a horrific chain of events ends in death for some of the campers, antihero Ben—who, he reveals early on, does not escape the night either innocent or unscathed—will try and fail to right wrongs and get the survivors safely off the mountain.
Pair with: Playing a nice, safe video game, far from the great outdoors

Spellbook of the Lost and Found, by Moira Fowley-Doyle (August 8)
Why we’re excited: In this dreamy sophomore novel from the author of The Accident Season, a small Irish town is hit by a strange plague of loss—items small and large go missing, replaced by resurfacing oddities, including the diary pages of a girl named Laurel. Local girl Olive meets a trio of squatters in an abandoned housing development who may have a link to the strange events, and finds that the key to understanding what’s going on may also lie in her own hidden past.
Pair with: Flash fiction based on the contents of the nearest Lost and Found

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F. C. Yee (August 8)
Why we’re excited: Holy elevator pitch: A student striving for entrance to a top university discovers she’s a spirit so powerful she can punch her way into Heaven. A cute Chinese transfer student helps Genie along in her transition from college-bound teen to boundary-smashing heroine, just in time to counteract a hellish invasion.
Pair with: Book of Chinese mythology

The Hearts We Sold, by Emily Lloyd-Jones (August 8)
Why we’re excited: Dee was young when the demons made themselves known to the world, with their bloody bargains that grant humans their greatest desire: all they have to give up in return is a body part. When Dee’s scholarship comes under threat and she faces a return to her horrible home life, she makes a less permanent trade, or so she thinks: her heart, on a two-year lease, in exchange for all the money she needs. But soon she learns the cost of her bargain may be more lasting than she once believed.
Pair with: Deep thoughts under full moons

Wicked Like a Wildfire, by Lana Popović (August 15)
Why we’re excited: Raised in a secluded Montenegrin town, sisters Iris and Malina have spent their lives guarding a family secret from their neighbors’ prying eyes: like their mother, the girls have the gift of manipulating beauty. Flowers explode into fractals for Iris, while Malina can use music to shape people’s moods. Their strict mother bakes magical desserts—until a brutal attack leaves her in a state of pre-death suspension. The sisters set off to untangle the dark legacy behind the assault, and their own dangerous magic.
Pair with: Art appreciation; synesthesia if you can swing it

Wonder Woman, by Leigh Bardugo (August 29)
Why we’re excited: Short pitch: Leigh Bardugo takes on Wonder Woman! Long pitch: Before she was Wonder Woman, Diana was an Amazonian princess with something to prove. During a race in which she’s determined to prove her strength, Diana instead saves a castaway from a marine explosion: Alia Keralis, who has a bloody destiny of her own. She’s a Warbringer, descended from Helen of Troy, fated to usher in as much chaos as her forebear. The two girls must band together against the forces set to destroy them both.
Pair with: A trip to the multiplex to see how Gal Gadot does it

Mask of Shadows, by Linsey Miller (August 29)
Why we’re excited: Genderfluid Sal is an excellent thief, but has sights set far higher than a lifetime of robbery. Fueled by a taste for revenge against the upper-crust nobles who destroyed their past, Sal’s in for more than just social-climbing when they set out to become a member of the Queen’s personal band of assassins. But auditions for the Left Hand may prove to be deadly, sweeping Sal up into bloody intrigue, even as they discover there’s far more to live for than revenge.
Pair with: Listing your enemies one by one, Arya-style

A Map for Wrecked Girls, by Jessica Taylor (August 15)
Why we’re excited: Emma and her charismatic older sister, Henri, find themselves in a sun-soaked nightmare when they’re beached on the shore of a deserted island, with one dead boy in the water and one bereaved boy, Alex, with them on the sand. The girls’ fierce, unequal connection is painted through flashbacks, as things fall apart in real time on the island. As Emma tugs away from Henri’s grip, she grows closer with Alex, in a taut tale of sisterhood and survival.
Pair with: Digging your toes in the sand

Little & Lion, by Brandy Colbert (August 8)
Why we’re excited: In Colbert’s first novel since Pointe, Suzette has just returned to LA following a stint at boarding school, where she was sent following her older brother, Lionel’s, diagnosis with bipolar disorder. She’s happy to be home, but a cascade of complications—starting with Lionel’s disclosure that he’s going off medication—threaten to derail her. Suzette deals with new crushes, her sexuality (and the emotional fallout of a homophobic incident at her old school), and with feeling like her brother’s keeper, in a contemporary tale that promises to be as delicately propulsive as Colbert’s debut.
Pair with: Bright sun and dark shades

In Some Other Life, by Jessica Brody (August 8)
Why we’re excited: Brody’s latest high-concept contemp takes on a Sliding Doors scenario in its tale of one girl with two possible lives: in one, Kennedy turned down a scholarship to elite Windsor Academy in order to stay near the crush who just asked her out. Her life seems great…until she walks in on her crush-turned-boyfriend kissing someone else. One blow to the head later, and she wakes up in the shoes of a Kennedy who ran with the scholarship, and is now navigating the high-flying prep-school life. But soon she’l learn that no version of life is perfect, no matter how things look from the outside.
Pair with: “Non, Je ne regrette rien” on repeat

The Arsonist, by Stephanie Oakes (August 22)
Why we’re excited: Molly and Pepper are two troubled teens—she the daughter of a convicted arsonist and a mother dead by suicide, he a Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy attempting to squeak his way toward graduation—drawn together by the mystery found in a diary kept by Ava Dreyman, a young German rebel killed just before the Berlin Wall fell. Their voices combine in a twisting mystery bridging historical and contemporary times.
Pair with: A reread of your old diaries, if you dare

This Is Not the End, by Chandler Baker (August 8)
Why we’re excited: In a world where every citizen is granted access to resurrection technology just once in their lives—on their 18th birthday, for one person—Lake is facing a horrific choice. Her boyfriend and best friend have died in a car crash she narrowly survived, and now she must decide which to bring back to life, with the added complication of knowing she once promised her resurrection to someone else. As her 18th birthday approaches, the noose tightens…
Pair with: Young Frankenstein and a very introspective game of Truth or Truth

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