September has my bookshelves groaning with new titles, especially in young adult. Contemporary novels are still dominating in what's new, but many of us still need our monthly dose of fantasy, and there are some really good ones releasing this month.
On our list of the best young adult books of the month we've got a provocative new novel about a group of human canaries in our societal coal mine by an award-winning author, a fun new rom-com that uses a twist of history to imagine an American royal family, the first book in a promising new fantasy series for fans of An Ember in the Ashes, a fierce graphic novel about Joker sidekick Harley Quinn, and a fantastic debut novel about cultural identity and first love from a fresh new voice in YA fiction.
There are a total of ten books on the list this month and even getting it down to that reduced my fingernails to stubs. Here's a bit more about the five titles I mentioned above, and you can see all the best young adult books of September here.
Snowflake, AZ by Marcus Sedgwick
Eighteen-year-old Ash ends up in the desert town of Snowflake, Arizona looking for his missing older brother and ends up finding more than he expected. The town is as odd as it's name. Its inhabitants call themselves the canaries, and like the canary in the coal mine, they are all showing signs of the toll the chemicals and technologies we use everyday are taking on society and the planet. Except no one else believes them. An extremely thought-provoking and powerful novel from Printz medalist Marcus Sedgwick (Snowflake, AZ may put him in the running once again). Forget the post-apocalyptic story, Snowflake, AZ looks at what comes before...
American Royals by Katharine McGee
Katharine McGee started with the idea of a historical what-if. What if George Washington had not declined the crown he was offered after the Revolutionary War and America, like the Brits, had their own royal family. Crazy, right? Fun, right? Yes and yes. Here in the States we see British royals on our magazine covers almost as much as our own dubious celebrities, and McGee's American Royals is way more entertaining. A royal House of Washington, a throne that is set to pass to a princess before a prince, palace intrigue, and forbidden romance. This one is perfect for an end of summer read or the first chilly days of fall. Can't wait for the next book!
There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness) by Katy Rose Pool
The first book in a new trilogy that has a bit of a Game of Thrones or An Ember in the Ashes vibe. Seven prophets once brought the world together but then disappeared. The only prophecy left behind in secret is about an Age of Darkness that will bring forth a single prophet--one who will either save or destroy the world that remains. Five very different individuals narrate the story, and each has a role to play in the prophecy. Pool does an amazing job building this world and giving readers unpredictable characters who have real flaws and complexities. If you've been waiting for the next big fantasy series, it has arrived...
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
If the last name here looks familiar, that's because David Yoon is married to Nicola Yoon, author of the bestseller Everything, Everything. This is David Yoon's first book, and I loved it. Frank Li is a Korean-American teenager in his senior year who falls for a blond, blue-eyed girl his parents will never approve of. Because she's not Korean. But they're not racist. Riight.... Frank enlists the help of another teenage friend of the family in a similar situation and things start to get really interesting. Yoon's story about cultural identity, racism, and first love is sensitive but also kept me laughing. When you need a break from your own life, I highly recommend stepping into Frank Li's.
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki
Award-winning author Mariko Tamaki takes on the Harley Quinn origin story with a graphic novel as cool as Harley herself. As Harley says on the very first page, this story is "...gonna make your brains explode like spaghetti." Harleen Quinzel arrives in Gotham City to find her grandmother is no more, and a drag queen named Mama/Benny now lives in her apartment. But Mama takes Harleen in and sends her off to high school where she meets her new BFF, Ivy. Gentrification is a central issue in the story, and when Mama and Harleen are going to be evicted the Joker comes on the scene and so does Harley Quinn. An action-packed story with Steve Pugh's killer illustrations make this a book that even readers who don't typically reach for graphic novels will want to check out.
You might also like:
- The full list of the best young adult books of the month
- More posts on kids & young adult books and authors
- The Amazon Book Review Podcast
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