The YA genre is still booming, providing romance, adventure, and more for teens and adults alike. Here are some of the YA books from August 2020 we’re most looking forward to…
Top New Young Adult Books August 2020
Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: Aug. 18
Den of Geek says: This looks like it could be an incisive and hard-hitting book that speaks to the way American Latinx students experience racism and navigate high school social life. It has gained high praise from authors including Celeste Ng.
Publisher’s Summary: Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall—or rather, walls.
There’s the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left—again.
There’s the wall that delineates Liliana’s diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy—and white—suburban high school she’s just been accepted into.
And there’s the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can’t just lighten up, she has to whiten up.
So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she’s seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn’t that her father doesn’t want to come home—he can’t…and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable.
But a wall isn’t always a barrier. It can be a foundation for something better. And Liliana must choose: Use this foundation as a platform to speak her truth, or risk crumbling under its weight.
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Macmillan)
Release date: Aug. 4
Den of Geek says: Described as a Hogwarts-style fantasy world with werewolves, this fantasy doesn’t flinch from the real world effects of ICE and deportation.
Publisher’s summary: Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past―a mysterious “Z” emblem―which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Publisher: Levine Querido
Release date: Aug. 25
Den of Geek says: Charming illustrations and a ghost story deeply tied to a family’s history promise a richly textured tale from this Lipan Apache author.
Publisher’s summary: Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.
There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.
Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
Darcie Little Badger is an extraordinary debut talent in the world of speculative fiction. We have paired her with her artistic match, illustrator Rovina Cai. This is a book singular in feeling and beauty.
The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: Aug. 4
Den of Geek says: Described as atmospheric and salt-soaked, this F/F romance might be a good introduction to readers who want to switch from post-apocalyptic YA to dark fantasy.
Publisher’s summary: A gripping, dark LGBT YA fantasy about two girls who must choose between saving themselves, each other, or their sinking island.
Every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.
Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen’s attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice.
Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.
When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas’s freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other as water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice.
Top New Young Adult Books In July 2020
Feathertide by Beth Cartwright
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 30
Den of Geek says: This has won a lot of praise for its prose. While some fairy tale adaptations can come off as empty, not actually adding anything to the context of the tradition they’re supposedly writing in, this one’s specificity seems like it might set it apart and add detail to the central metaphor about a young girl’s search for her family.
Publisher’s summary: Born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets, Marea has always known she was different, but never known why. And so to find answers, she goes in search of the father she has never met.
The hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted.
And Mara will never forget what she learns there.
Running by Natalia Sylvester
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release date: July 14
Den of Geek says: A political novel of a different type. This fantasy of being part of a presidential campaign seems like it has a lot to say about family and change.
Publisher’s summary: In this authentic, humorous, and gorgeously written debut novel about privacy, waking up, and speaking up, Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president. Throughout his successful political career he has always had his daughter’s vote, but a presidential campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to sheltered fifteen-year-old Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family, from a 60 Minutes–style tour of their house to tabloids doctoring photos and inventing scandals. As tensions rise within the Ruiz family, Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions, and she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was.
But how do you find your voice when everyone’s watching? When it means disagreeing with your father—publicly? What do you do when your dad stops being your hero? Will Mari get a chance to confront her father? If she does, will she have the courage to seize it?
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green
Release date: July 7
Den of Geek says: YouTube sensation Hank Green’s science fiction debut, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, kicked off this series about alien robots. The sequel shows the aftermath, and continues to engage with the author’s internet in internet culture and science.
Publisher’s summary: The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While the robots were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction with only their presence. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.
Months later, April’s friends are trying to find their footing in a post-Carl world. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda is contemplating defying her friends’ advice and pursuing a new scientific operation…one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension. Just as it is starting to seem like the gang may never learn the real story behind the events that changed their lives forever, a series of clues arrive—mysterious books that seem to predict the future and control the actions of their readers—all of which seems to suggest that April could be very much alive.
In the midst of the search for the truth and the search for April is a growing force, something that wants to capture our consciousness and even control our reality. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is the bold and brilliant follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It is a fast-paced adventure that is also a biting social commentary, asking hard, urgent questions about the way we live, our freedoms, our future, and how we handle the unknown.
Top New YA Books June 2020
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: June 2
Den of Geek says: After reading The Deep, I’m on board with the idea of black mermaids meeting YA fantasy world-building. The friendship at the center of this novel sounds cute and sweet.
Publisher’s summary: In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers.
Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment.
Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all.
Hood by Jenny Elder Moke
Release date: June 9
Den of Geek says: An adventure in which a young girl joins Robin Hood’s adventures, this one reminds me of fanfic in the best way. A re-examination of legendary characters with the pacing of contemporary YA could be cinematic fun.
Publisher’s summary: You have the blood of kings and rebels within you, love. Let it rise to meet the call.
Isabelle of Kirklees has only ever known a quiet life inside the sheltered walls of the convent, where she lives with her mother, Marien. But after she is arrested by royal soldiers for defending innocent villagers, Isabelle becomes the target of the Wolf, King John’s ruthless right hand. Desperate to keep her daughter safe, Marien helps Isabelle escape and sends her on a mission to find the one person who can help: Isabelle’s father, Robin Hood.
As Isabelle races to stay out of the Wolf’s clutches and find the father she’s never known, she is thrust into a world of thieves and mercenaries, handsome young outlaws, new enemies with old grudges, and a king who wants her entire family dead. As she joins forces with Robin and his Merry Men in a final battle against the Wolf, will Isabelle find the strength to defy the crown and save the lives of everyone she holds dear?
In Hood, author Jenny Elder Moke reimagines the world of Robin Hood in lush, historical detail and imbues her story with more breathless action than has ever come out of Sherwood Forest before. This novel is a must-read for historical-fiction fans, adventure lovers, and reluctant readers alike!
Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross
Release date: June 23
Den of Geek says: A sisterly bond provides the heart at the center of this story of magic and war. The Ancient Greece-inspired world and the promise of magic and battles look good, but the emphasis on characterization and familial love raise this one above the rest.
Publisher’s summary: After eight years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon unexpectedly appears a day early, Eva knows something is wrong. Halcyon has charged with a heinous crime, and though her life is spared, she is sentenced to 15 years.
Suspicious of the charges, brought forth by Halcyon’s army commander, as well as the details of the crime, Eva volunteers to take part of her sister’s sentence. If there’s a way to absolve Halcyon, she’ll find it. But as the sisters begin their sentences, they quickly learn that there are fates worse than death.
Top New YA in May 2020
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: May 19
Den of Geek says: It’s arguable whether a new Hunger Games book from the point of view of the man who will become the despotic President Snow is really what readers wanted, but it’s here. Inevitably this one will spark a lot of conversation after the runaway success of the original series.
Publisher’s summary: It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release date: May 12
Den of Geek says: This YA fantasy distinguishes itself primarily by a varied cast of five characters, making it a good introduction to epic fantasy plus the “fun group of friends” appeal of a superhero squad. Also, there are dragons and a frightening fantasy job interview, two of my favorite things.
Publisher’s summary: When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call. . . .
THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.
THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.
THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.
THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free–he must take what he wants.
THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release date: May 5
Den of Geek says: This looks like it could be both a tearjerker and a sweet story of sisterly love. The tragic death of their father brings Camino and Yahaira Rios into each other’s lives in a new way.
Publisher’s summary: Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Top New YA in April 2020
Little Universes by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release date: April 7
Den of Geek says: It’s not often that YA books focus on family, and the sisterly relationship at the heart of Little Universes looks well-crafted and heart-wrenching. When tragedy strikes, each sister will need to find a way to move on.
Publisher’s summary: One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.
When a tsunami strikes the island their parents are vacationing on in Malaysia, it soon becomes clear that their parents are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from their sunny California home for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of getting closer, it feels like the wave has torn them apart.
Little Universes explores the powerful bond of sisters, the kinds of love that never die, and the journey we all must make through the baffling cruelty and unexpected beauty of human life in an incomprehensible universe.
What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: April 7
Den of Geek says: YA romance, and digital age romance in particular, can easily come off as cheesy or derivative. But this ‘love triangle between two people’ looks like a twist on relationships and online identity, plus the coziness of a crush story.
Publisher’s summary: There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.
He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…
Except who she really is.
Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.
That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.
Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.
If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.
Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost
Release date: April 14
Den of Geek says: It’s an interesting time for historical fantasy, and this looks a bit like a YA cousin of Upright Women Wanted, with more robots and monsters. Check out the crunchy mechanical horses on that cover.
Publisher’s summary: In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.
When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.
Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.
Top New YA Books in March 2020
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 3, 2020
Den of Geek says: To put a twist on historical fantasy, author Marie Lu focuses just to the side of a world-changing life. Nannerl Mozart was a real person, and has appeared in fiction before with the aim of bringing some recognition to the famous musician’s talented but forgotten sister. The fairy tale element sounds like it will provide strong atmosphere in this musical novel.
Publisher’s Summary: Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age–her tyrannical father has made that much clear.
And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.
In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.
The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson
Type: Illustrated memoir
Release date: March 3
Den of Geek says: Stevenson’s cute illustrations and enthusiastic storytelling have delighted me in her adaptation She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, so a look into her life and career sounds like an interesting look into the business of art, the animation industry, and living as a creative person.
Publisher’s Summary: From Noelle Stevenson, the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Nimona, comes a captivating, honest illustrated memoir that finds her turning an important corner in her creative journey—and inviting readers along for the ride.
In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world.
Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, Nimona, Noelle captures the little and big moments that make up a real life, with a wit, wisdom, and vulnerability that are all her own.
A Phoenix First Must Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 10
Den of Geek says: A grab-bag of some of the best writers of color in the YA space today,this anthology faces challenges head-on to tell stories of Black women and gender-non-conforming people. It looks like a good mix of realistic and fantastical stories, set past, future, and present.
Publisher’s summary: Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.
Top New YA Books in March 2020
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
Type: Novel (Second in series)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: 2/4/20
Den of Geek says: Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation was a buzzy historical zombie novel with a keen awareness of racial dynamics in Civil War-era America. The sequel looks to be just as intense as the first.
Publisher’s summary: The sequel to the New York Times bestselling epic Dread Nation is an unforgettable journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.
After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: 2/11/2020
Den of Geek says: This unique book of poetry seems perfectly suited to today’s environmental and humanitarian issues. What happens to the things we throw away? What happens to the people who aren’t wanted? The metaphor is rich.
Publisher’s summary: Acclaimed poet and Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye shines a spotlight on the things we cast away, from plastic water bottles to those less fortunate, in this collection of more than eighty original and never-before-published poems. A deeply moving, sometimes funny, and always provocative poetry collection for all ages.
“Nye at her engaging, insightful best.”―Kirkus (starred review)
“How much have you thrown away in your lifetime already? Do you ever think about it? Where does this plethora of leavings come from? How long does it take you, even one little you, to fill the can by your desk?”―Naomi Shihab Nye
National Book Award Finalist, Young People’s Poet Laureate, and devoted trash-picker-upper Naomi Shihab Nye explores these questions and more in this original collection of poetry that features more than eighty new poems. “I couldn’t save the world, but I could pick up trash,” she says in her introduction to this stunning volume.
With poems about food wrappers, lost mittens, plastic straws, refugee children, trashy talk, the environment, connection, community, responsibility to the planet, politics, immigration, time, junk mail, trash collectors, garbage trucks, all that we carry and all that we discard, this is a rich, engaging, moving, and sometimes humorous collection for readers ages twelve to adult.
Rebelwing by Andrea Tang
Release date: 2/25/20
Den of Geek says: Robot dragons? What more to say? The fantastical war story setting and high-energy cast of characters looks like it’ll make this one a good read for fans of Pacific Rim.
Publisher’s summary: Things just got weird for Prudence Wu.
One minute, she’s cashing in on a routine smuggling deal. The next, she’s escaping enforcers on the wings of what very much appears to be a sentient cybernetic dragon.
Pru is used to life throwing her some unpleasant surprises–she goes to prep school, after all, and selling banned media across the border in a country with a ruthless corporate government obviously has its risks. But a cybernetic dragon? That’s new.
She tries to forget about the fact that the only reason she’s not in jail is because some sort of robot saved her, and that she’s going to have to get a new side job now that enforcers are on to her. So she’s not exactly thrilled when Rebelwing shows up again.
Even worse, it’s become increasingly clear that the rogue machine has imprinted on her permanently, which means she’d better figure out this whole piloting-a-dragon thing–fast. Because Rebelwing just happens to be the ridiculously expensive weapon her government needs in a brewing war with its neighbor, and Pru’s the only one who can fly it.
Set in a wonderfully inventive near-future Washington, D.C., this hilarious, defiant debut sparkles with wit and wisdom, deftly exploring media consumption, personal freedoms, and the weight of one life as Pru, rather reluctantly, takes to the skies.