Each week, Bookstr will be offering a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list. Today, we’ll be recommending five recent young adult books for your reading pleasure. Young adult novels are generally written with an 12-18 age bracket in mind but over half of the audience for YA novels is adults (as our audience can attest!) Young adult novels are often just as sophisticated as their adult contemporaries, with a lot of themes about growing up into adulthood and dealing with the perils of being a teenager mixed in. Below, are some of our favorite recently published YA must-reads!
5. Let’s Go swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson
Image Via Goodreads
Let’s Go Swimming On Doomsdayis a harrowing novel that is nevertheless a great (if stressful) read. Written by Natalie C. Anderson, the story tells of a Somali refugee called Abdi whose family is kidnapped by a ruthless jihadi terrorist group. In order to save his family, he’s forced to become a spy for the American CIA and infiltrate the organization, witnessing horrific acts while trying not to blow his cover. He eventually escapes but is caught for petty theft and forced to reckon with his past. Horrifying and deeply touching in equal measure, the novel touches on themes of redemption and family, making it a must read. Just bring a box of Kleenex.
4. Two Can Keep a secret by Karen M. McManus
Image Via Amazon
A gripping YA thriller, Two Can Keep A Secret is about an isolated town called Echo Ridge, where Ellery’s her aunt went missing many years ago, and just five years before Ellery moves there, a homecoming queen also vanished. Ellery has just moved in with her grandmother who she barely knows when another girl goes missing. Now Ellery has to solve the mystery of Echo Ridge, suspecting her grandmother and mother may be keeping dark secrets from her. Captivating and exciting, this new thriller from the author of bestseller One of Us Is Lying is one you’ll want to pick this one up and watch out for the plot twists!
3. Four Dead Queens By Astrid Scholte
Image Via Goodreads
Four Dead Queenstakes place in the fictional world of Quadara, focusing on master thief Keralie Corrington and upstanding citizen Varin. When their paths cross, Varin accidentally foils Keralie’s latest theft and the bungled thievery attempt leaves them caught in a conspiracy game that leaves four queens of Quadara dead. With no other choice, the two join forces to find who killed the queens and form an uneasy alliance in their quest. Fast paced and with a building mystery, this is a great novel to get sucked into.
2. Field Notes on Love by Jennifer Smith
Image Via Amazon
Field Notes On Loveby Jennifer Smith tells the story of two young teenagers, Mae and Hugo, who decide to ride cross-country via train. Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him, while Mae has been rejected from USC’s film school. The two happen to find each other on the train and grow close inside of the train. But can they stay together as the real world infringes on their idyllic train adventure? This is a fun, romantic, and sweet coming-of-age story of two strangers finding love.
1. Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Image Via Goodreads
SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson is a young adult novel for our time. Anderson, author of the groundbreaking Speak, recounts her own upbringing via verse, creating angry, yet hopeful portraits of her life. It is a call to action for survivors of sexual abuse and advocating for them. It is a novel that will tear you down yet make you feel energized to make real change in what the author calls a failure of society to help survivors of sexual assault. It is a great read and one that everyone should pick up.
Winter might be cold—but these releases are guaranteed to be hot! We’ve got political dystopias; tragic, time-travel romances; and… genderqueer werewolves? Three months in, and 2019 already has more diverse reads than some years altogether. January saw the release of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Aliby Sabina Khan, a heartbreaking depiction of a Bangladeshi lesbian whose parents force her into an arranged marriage upon discovering her sexuality. In February, we got the newest Angie Thomas release: On the Come Up, a poignant yet raw foray into poverty, ambition, and hip-hop. Hurry up and read these ten phenomenal releases—it won’t be long before more YA hits hit those shelves.
This list will include both standalone releases and continuations of established series! Of course, after reading some of the debuts, you’ll be hoping for a sequel. Let’s take a look at the hottest releases of March 2019.
Tense, chilling, and timely, Samira Ahmed‘s Internmentimagines a society in which American Muslims are openly persecuted and detained—a society that, unfortunately, is not so difficult to imagine. This powerful novel explores horrors that exist, devastatingly, alongside xenophobia and racism: the compliance of adults who might have been protectors and the bigotry that exists in even the most progressive communities.
Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
Opposite of Always
Time travel? A perfect romance? What could possibly go wrong? As Justin A. Reynolds obviously knows, everything. When Kate dies, Jack will do everything he can to see her again—including going back to the moment that they first met, even knowing what will happen next. This heartfelt debut is guaranteed to cause one feeling in particular: tears. Don’t tell me that tears aren’t a feeling. Just read it, and you’ll see. The novel features two black protagonists, and The Hate U Giveauthor Angie Thomas called Opposite of Always “one of the best love stories [she’s] ever read.”
Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.
He almost made valedictorian.
He almost made varsity.
He almost got the girl . . .
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.
But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.
The Fever King
Gone are the days of YA dystopias that read like a MadLibs of superficial concepts and arbitrary capitalization. Or rather, they’re not gone. They dwindled in the Pursuit—a.k.a. the desire for imagined worlds that comment upon our own. Victoria Lee‘s The Fever Kingis a vicious tale of political intrigue with timely commentary on immigration and power structures.
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
Unabashedly raw, Mindy McGinnis‘ Heroinegoes to dark places most YA novels might hesitate to reach—dark places many American young people have learned to call home. Violent, unforgettable, and gripping, this portrayal of a descent into addiction clearly shows how this affliction can strike anyone… and what happens when it does.
A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope.
When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.
The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.
With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.
But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak, the unforgettable story of a sexual assault survivor, has remained an enduring classic of YA fiction despite its status as one of the most-challenged YA titles of all time. Now, Anderson has spoken up again with Shout—intertwining the personal story of her own rape with broader criticism of confusing or contradictory messages surrounding sexuality.
A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson!
Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless.
In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.
The Last 8
Readers will be all over this queer genre debut, The Last 8by Laura Pohl. Nearly all characters are LGBTQA+, and YA lovers will get some much-needed representation for some of the more neglected letters of the acronym: the novel features an openly aromantic and bisexual lead character! Even better, it’s an #ownvoices novel—Pohl has shared her story so that you can finally read your own. (Sorry to any aromantics who have also been involved in an alien attack. This one might hit too close to home.)
A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
OUT OF SALEM
We’ve got a lesbian werewolf, a genderqueer zombie… and a nonbinary author? Hal Schrieve‘s gritty, eclectic debut explores issues of surveillance, homelessness, and the ways that higher social class impacts even marginalized identities. Out of Salem builds to an explosive conclusion… and, hopefully, a sequel!
When genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth wakes from death after a car crash that killed their parents and sisters, they have to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie. Always a talented witch, Z can now barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch, and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf.
When a local psychiatrist is murdered in an apparent werewolf attack, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to monsters, and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.
In the highly anticipated finale to the Bone Witch trilogy, Tea’s life—and the fate of the kingdoms—hangs in the balance.
Tea is a bone witch with the dark magic needed to raise the dead. She has used this magic to breathe life into those she has loved and lost…and those who would join her army against the deceitful royals. But Tea’s quest to conjure a shadowglass—to achieve immortality for the one person she loves most in the world—threatens to consume her heart.
Tea’s black heartsglass only grows darker with each new betrayal. And when she is left with new blood on her hands, Tea must answer to a power greater than the elder asha or even her conscience…
The thrilling, twenty-years-in-the-making, conclusion to the New York Times–bestselling Queen’s Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner. This beloved and award-winning series began with the acclaimed novel The Thief. It and four more stand-alone volumes bring to life a world of epics, myths, and legends, and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Now more powerful and cunning than ever before, Eugenides must navigate a perilous future in this sweeping conclusion. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and Sarah J. Maas.
Neither accepted nor beloved, Eugenides is the uneasy linchpin of a truce on the Lesser Peninsula, where he has risen to be high king of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis. As the treacherous Baron Erondites schemes anew and a prophecy appears to foretell the death of the king, the ruthless Mede empire prepares to strike. The New York Times–bestselling Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations, divine intervention, dangerous journeys, battles lost and won, power, passion, and deception.
In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen.
With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies—a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely—and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.
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“who does that? she asked
thread by thread stitching
the whos to hers whys to the hows”
－Laurie Halse Anderson, SHOUT
The above self-questioning scene maybe speaks for those who have experience with sexual assault: why me? Why him? Why her? How? How? How—— Laurie Halse Anderson knows it deeply. Best known for her young adult novel Speak, Anderson has decided to break the silence and the ever-lasting self-doubt, and shout out her own experiences with sexual assault to the world via her memoir SHOUT which is woven out of powerful, poetic words, to empower those unmuted hearts.
According to Bustle, Laurie Halse Anderson, as a rape survivor grew up in a family where “staying silent was valued more than truth.” “I finally have the perspective to talk directly about my experience as a rape survivor,” she told Bustle. “I grew up in a house where silence was more valued than truth — it took a long time to grow out of those restraints.”
At the age of thirteen, Anderson was raped. Being hurt, physically and mentally, Anderson has been muted (by herself, her family, her school, and the whole society) for twenty years until she confessed her painful experience to a therapist, to the public:
I lost my voice for a very long time after I was raped…I lost myself, too. Shout is a poetry tapestry that shares the darkness of my silent years and shows how writing helped me speak up. Shout is a declaration of war against rape culture and a celebration of survival.
In 1999, Before writing SHOUT, the publication of her first and best-selling YA novel Speak helped to raise awareness of sexual assault, and allowed Anderson to address her own concerns about sexual assault, especially for teenagers, in society. Her semi-autobiographical novel, Speak revolves around Melinda Sordino, a fourteen-year-old high-school freshman who is raped by a senior in a party. On the spot, she calls 911 but doesn’t know what to say, so she runs home while the police come and break up the party. Back at school, Melinda is bullied by her peers for calling the police－and her depression becomes worse while the fear keeps silencing her. Speak has been hugely influential since its release and has become part of the curriculum in some high schools, while being banned in others. In 2004, the novel was adapted into a movie with the same name, featuring Kristen Stewart.
Anderson’s Speak and the derivative Emily Carroll’s graphic novel | Image via Amazon and Paste Magazine
Though Speak speaks for those who share the same unspeakable experience with Anderson, after almost twnety years, society is still under the dome of unpleasant abusive sexual scandals. Seeing the rise of social campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, Anderson feels comforting for their power of making the world over: “This cultural movement has been building since the early 1970s,” she said to Bustle, “It started as a tiny wave in the middle of the ocean, but now it is a tsunami reaching the shore and washing the world with truth.” However, on the other hand, Anderson feels angry about the status quo in which there are still powerless people crying in dark while powerful victimizers are still victorious. Anderson said to Washington Post that:
When I started Shout, it was just my rage: Why can’t we talk about these things? Watching these brave people speak up as part of #MeToo just let me take the lid off, and that felt good. It was a second liberation for me.
I see my responsibility as helping people move away from ‘me too’ to ‘us too’…I hope that some readers will find it and feel less alone…America’s teenagers are hungry for honesty and they are hungry for hope — and that’s what I’m trying to give them.
Anderson’s SHOUT aims to create a sense of community to fight against the forced-to-be-muted isolation that she felt as a young woman and a rape victim. If Speak is a book speaking for the victims, then SHOUT is a call to the action, that adds more waves along with the tsunami of current social movements. According to Washington Post, SHOUT is written in free verse and poetic language, and is divided into two sections. In the first half, the author shares her own experience in the sexual abusive world, and how that unforgettable traumatic memories led her to the creation of Speak. The second half is a “manifesto,” as Anderson herself indicated, about “listening to and reflecting on a culture where sexual violence is rampant.” Most significantly, SHOUT is a thank-you letter to those young victims who used to live in the darkness and have courage to speak with their family members, friends, teachers, Anderson, or merely themselves, about the sexual assaults. No matter if the words are addressed online, written, or orally, Anderson appreciates all those unmuted hearts striving to live, to speak, and to shout, “I’ll walk with you,” she said.
As a feminist reader, I love Anderson’s use of “weaving” to embody the complex of pain and bravery. The weaving falls apart when the hearts are falling apart; it is broken, loosen, and untidy forever, yet when those with the unmuted hearts mend their own experiences, with tear and blood, into the weaving of tapestry. They are not alone anymore. Though the pain remains, the power of confession, storytelling, language, when they are rallied, it becomes the forceful support for human sexuality and healthy intimacy, and the resilient fighter against rape culture and toxic masculinity.
I look forward to Laurie Halse Anderson’s upcoming SHOUT which is scheduled to be published on March 12, 2019 from Penguin Teen, and I wholeheartedly advocate the rampant vegetation of #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #SHOUT.