The 10 Best Teen Books of September

September brings with it a whirlwind of fantasy reads, romances, murder mysteries, and contemporary fables about finding one’s place in the world amid family pressure and societal oppression. Two debut novelists make a splash: David Yoon tackles the problems faced by a Korean-American teenager whose parents insist he only date Korean girls, and Brittney Morris invites readers to visit the online gaming world of SLAY. Lastly, Simon Snow fans will be delighted to join Baz and the gang on a Stateside road trip in Rainbow Rowell’s latest.

American Royals, by Katharine McGee
In this alternate universe America, the first U.S. President was crowned instead of elected, leading to generation after generation of Washingtons in the royal White House. At 21, Princess Beatrice is preparing to become queen regnant (a recent law allows first-borns to claim the title, regardless of gender), and the pressure’s on to find a husband, but her love for a commoner complicates matters. Meanwhile, Beatrice’s younger, tabloid-baiting twin siblings, Samantha and Jefferson, must navigate love triangles and scandals. Perfect for fans of Truly Madly Royally and Red, White, and Royal Blue, this multiple POV book looks to be a fun-filled, romantic romp—and hopefully the first of many.

Five Dark Fates, by Kendare Blake
Are you ready to find out which sister will prevail in the Three Dark Crowns saga? Have you analyzed the Blue Queen’s prophecy, or revisited any of Mirabella’s dreams in an effort to predict the ending? Which queen’s journey will have the greatest impact on the future of the island? With Katharine in charge—at least for the time being—Arsinoe and Mirabella appear to have a tighter bond than ever. But readers can trust that Blake always has a few surprises in store, and it looks like that lethal mist isn’t finished with our favorite sisters yet.

I Have No Secrets, by Penny Joelson
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter meets Pretty Little Liars in this original and compelling murder mystery featuring a teenage girl with cerebral palsy. 14-year-old Jemma is intelligent and insightful, but she cannot talk or move, so when a murderer confesses his crime to her, she has no way of alerting the authorities. However, with a new technology on the horizon, there’s a chance Jemma will be able to share the horrifying truth and prevent the killer from striking again.

Kingdom of Souls, by Rena Barron
Fans of Children of Blood and Bone will devour this high-fantasy debut, the first in a planned trilogy. The daughter of two witchdoctors, Arrah doesn’t seem to possess any of her own magic, so she makes the disturbing and controversial choice to trade years of her life in exchange for a bit of power. Her reasoning is altruistic; children are being kidnapped, and the perpetrator—the allegedly vanquished Demon King—is worse than anyone could have imagined. Will her newfound strength, despite the inherent danger that comes with it, be enough to defeat her enemy?

Permanent Record, by Mary H.K. Choi
Choi’s knockout debut, the bestselling Emergency Contact, established her as a contemporary novelist to watch. Her follow-up is a romance between Pablo, a college dropout drowning in debt and uncertainty, and Leanna, the world-famous pop star and social media juggernaut in search of snacks at the deli where Pablo works. Shimmering attraction follows, but can two people from such different worlds really make it work? The plotline has Notting Hill vibes but also digs deep into the conflicts and realities of Pablo and Smart’s disparate existences. Pop star fans should pair it with Somewhere Only We Know, by Maurene Goo.

Serpent & Dove, by Shelby Mahurin
In book one of this dark, romantic duology, Louise le Blanc is a runaway witch who fled her coven two years ago and never looked back. Now living in the city of Cesarine, where witches are hunted and burned by the Church, she survives by her wits (i.e. whatever she can beg, steal, or borrow). A marriage of necessity to witch hunter Captain Reid Diggory brings danger and passion into Louise’s life and it’s more vital than ever that she keep her identity and abilities a secret.

Frankly in Love, by David Yoon
The subject of a bidding war, with foreign rights sold to multiple countries and a film adaptation on the horizon, Yoon’s debut hits shelves to great anticipation and well-earned fanfare. A coming-of-age story, it stars Frank Li, a Korean-American senior in high school grappling to figure out his place in the world while questioning his parents’ rules about relationships (namely, “Date Korean”). Frank considers his parents’ views archaic at best, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to introduce them to his white girlfriend, Brit. When Frank’s Korean-American classmate and family friend, Joy Song, finds herself in a similar situation, dating a boy whose race won’t go over well with her family, Frank and Joy decide to fake date one another to keep their respective parents at bay. The B&N Exclusive Edition includes an interview with David and Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything; The Sun is Also a Star), as well as a bonus chapter.

Capturing the Devil, by Kerri Maniscalco
Aspiring forensic scientist Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her (newly tattooed!) fiancé Thomas Creswell, investigative partner extraordinaire, return for their fourth and final outing in the addictive Stalking Jack the Ripper series. This time, the dynamic duo scours the Windy City in search of a truly nightmarish serial killer hiding amongst the dazzle and innovation of the World’s Fair, where he lures victims into his Murder Hotel. Will Audrey Rose and Thomas survive long enough to make it down the aisle?

Slay, by Brittney Morris
High-achiever Kiera Johnson sometimes needs an escape from her life as one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. Her favorite place to regroup and be herself is in the world of SLAY, a popular multiplayer online role-playing game inspired by Black Panther. When reality intrudes in the worst possible way–a teen is killed over a game-related argument–mainstream media scrutiny and vicious online trolls converge to make Kiera’s life hell. Turns out Kiera isn’t merely a fan of SLAY; she’s the game’s creator, a fact she’s successfully kept hidden from her friends and family up to this point. But how can she stay silent when the game and the safe haven it represents for Black gamers comes under fire?

Wayward Son, by Rainbow Rowell
The loveable Simon Snow (Carry On; Fangirl) is back in a tale that dares to ask, “What happens after you’ve saved the world, proven your Chosen One bonafides, and kissed your vampiric roommate?” For Simon, life post-battle is not what he hoped or expected. It’s less HEA and more ennui. Luckily, Penny and Baz are on top of the problem. Perhaps a trip across the pond to the U.S. for an epic road trip will pull Simon from his slump?

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