When I turned the final page of Angie Thomas' powerful debut novel, I physically had chills running up and down my arms. This book is impressive and dare I say, necessary. Yes, the subject matter is difficult - police brutality and socialized racism. Yes, parts of this book will rightly make you furious - the 16-year-old protagonist is a witness to the murders of both of her best friends. But you'll also laugh at the antics of the protagonist's family and smile at all the ways they protect and love each other and their neighborhood. If you want to read something that will make you feel the whole rainbow of emotions, a book that will challenge and shock and energize, pick up THE HATE U GIVE right now. -Camilla
I had more fun reading THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE than I've had reading a book in absolute ages. A brilliantly written adventure tale, with a cast of characters you can't help but become very attached to, and just the right amount of angst inducing, won't-they-just-kiss-already!-romance. I did not want to put this book down, or say goodbye to the characters in it. -Amy
The perfect combination of timeless fairy tale qualities and the austerity and fear-mongering ways of the Puritans, this book explores the dark nature of human beings. When twins Benedicta and Angelica are banished from their village they are irrevocably changed, as are the lives of those that banished them. This book deftly explores the public and private faces that each of us possess; how our assumptions and beliefs color the way we see the world; and the ways in which responding in fear can create the exact things that we fear. Thoroughly creepy and unexpectedly deep, this book should definitely be on your list of things to read. -Kaitlyn
This is a story about losing a loved one to a brain tumor, about the ethics of reality TV, about euthanasia, about murderers and nuns and gamers. It's also about 15-year-old Jackie, who's living out the horror and confusion of watching her father's decline in front of a million TV viewers every night. The book explores the messy pros and cons of anonymity versus putting yourself out there. Although it's categorized as YA, the book has crossover appeal, as readers take a turn in the mind of every character -- including the tumor itself, which provides some of the story's funniest and most moving chapters. Like most reality shows, it's got a great cast of characters, and like most reality shows, you'll find it hard to peel yourself away. -Emmy
THE BLACK WITCH is, basically, a political treatise couched as a dark fantasy novel. It's all about Powers That Be creating a climate of fear and hatred of others, denying creatures basic human rights, closing borders, pushing religious agenda . . . there's even slavery and hints at denying the poor healthcare. Even with all that, it's not heavy-handed. Instead the story handles these subjects in a fresh and interesting way while still being engrossing and page-turning. -Faith
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I read this in one sitting on a plane. I didn't even notice the plane ride because I was so engrossed in the story of Rachel and Henry and a little bookshop with a Letter Library (a section where people can leave notes and letters to each other in books). This is a funny, beautiful story about love and loss, grief and redemption. It's a story of books and booksellers and love of the written word. It's a story you'll savor yet be unable to put down. Fans of Jandy Nelson will find a new favorite author in Cath Crowley. -Camilla
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Rin Chupeco became an instant favorite of mine with her 2014 debut book Girl in the Well. I could write paragraphs about how much I love her but for now I will just say this: she only has a few books out, but her distinct writing style and storytelling abilities put her among the best in her field and make her an author to watch. With her newest title, THE BONE WITCH, she has once again proven this. It is a beautifully written dark fantasy that will take your breath away and leave you wanting more. -Faith
When I first heard of CARAVAL and its constant comparison with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (of which I'm more than a little obsessed with) I was intrigued and skeptical. I must say though, that CARAVAL stood up well to expectations. I can see why the comparison, but you have to give props to Stephanie Garber for writing a book that, while reminiscent of The Night Circus, is a captivating tale in its own right. I found myself swept up in the mystery, trying desperately to hold onto what I "knew" to be true of this fictional reality. Like the players, as much as I tried to stick to the facts, it was often hard to discern what the truth really was until the very end. Bravo Stephanie, bravo. -Brandi
Marin stays in her empty dorm over the Christmas holiday, alone with her thoughts, trying to avoid confronting the loss of her grandfather and the life in San Francisco she abruptly left behind after he passed. She has made a list of things to keep her occupied: meditate, find new music, watch documentaries. When her friend Mabel flies to New York to visit her during break, she learns she has to confront the things she's been avoiding. WE ARE OKAY deals with what it means to shut down after a tragedy. To be friends with someone, and then more than friends, and then friends again. It deals with grief, love, and the pain of learning that sometimes you don't know the people you were closest to as well as as you thought. Beautifully told with an introspective narrator, WE ARE OKAY quickly made its way to my list of favorite reads. -Amy
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"It was a pleasure to burn." A chilling, magnetic story, I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction. I don't think I've read anything like this before, but the historical style reminded me of Julie Berry. You will find little romance within these pages. There is mystery, friendship, and of course, arson in many forms. This book is more than its beautiful cover hints at, I can't even begin to explain it. THE ARSONIST is one of my favorite reads this year, let it be yours too. -Leah
FLAME IN THE MIST is a wonderful fantasy story with all the elements that make a great one. I fell in love with Mariko from the first chapter and was happy to follow her long, and mostly arduous, journey to discover herself and come to terms with the harsh reality of the life she chose. I look forward to (by that I mean I am impatiently awaiting) the next book and the continuation of this captivating story. -Faith
Saenz tells his stories with an unparalleled insight and empathy for his characters. We meet Salvador at a turning point in his life, a coming of age where he explores what it means to be adopted, to lose people you love, to struggle with anger and identity. This is a story about the families we create, and of the families that choose us and take us in when we most need it. THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE guided me through the many emotions and experiences of its characters, and ultimately left me with an overwhelming feeling of love, belonging, and hope. -Amy
The Books of Pellinor have been published for over a decade, a timeless fantasy series on par with the works of fellow Australian authors Garth Nix and Alison Goodman. If you're new to the world you can start with The Naming (Book one) or The Bone Queen, a rich backstory to one of the main characters in the series. While romance is slim throughout the books there are a number of incredibly well-written friendships and other kinds of relationships which I found wholly satisfying and genuine. Reminiscent of Tolkien's magic and world building, these books remain some of my all-time favorites and now they have beautiful new covers! -Leah
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Cadence's life is supposed to be perfect—after all she is a Sinclair, one of the wealthiest, most esteemed families on the east coast. But after a terrible accident at her family's private island estate, Cadence is struggling not only to physically recover from her injuries but to even remember the dark truths of what happened that night. E. Lockhart takes what could be a "poor me I'm rich and sad" story and transforms it into a gripping, complex and beautifully tragic novel about families and heartbreak—we can suffer in trying to do the right thing. -Danielle
I didn't simply read this book so much as I let the story wash over me and through me until every pore, every molecule of my being was infused with utter beauty of the words and the writing. When I was done, I was left with a sense of loss that it was over but also a sense of euphoria that I was allowed to be a part of the story of lives of Lazlo, Sarai and Weep, even for the briefest of moments. -Faith
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Some books defy normal categorization and JANE, UNLIMITED is a captivating example. It at first feels like a loose reimagining of Jane Eyre: Jane, orphan, is a maker of umbrellas and unapologetic with her opinions. Then mix in Clue-like espionage and deceit, a capricious house, and multiple realities that bring to mind an Escher painting, and you won't begin to imagine what happens next. -Leah
Before I say anything else, I have to warn Wonder Woman purists -- this book is not for you. Leigh Bardugo gives a modern take on the Amazon Warrior's origin and first encounter with the World of Men. And Diana is definitely a teenage girl. But, have no fear, her Amazonian heritage and Wonder Woman lore blasts through in the last half of the book, Bardugo most assuredly did her homework on the origins of Wonder Woman, Themyscira, and the Amazons. -Scott
Hellworld. So, not my usual genre but I think I might be hooked! This story traces Abby and her companions as they search for answers about how their parents disappeared. Caves, caverns, darkness, silence, screams, beings, monsters, secrets and in the end, togetherness. You won't be disappointed as you follow Abby and her friends ask hard questions about life and myth and faith and how they intersect with physics and reason. It is all somehow packed into this book! Most compelling was how the author wove the story's timeline at once tracing the group's journey to the cave and their escape from it. The pace quickens with each new chapter until you are feeling the urgency that these brave teens are living out. Great read!! -Julie
Adapting a comic book character into a traditional novel format usually doesn't work out great. Visuals and splash panels are so important to the genre that inevitably something is lost in the transition. Jason Reynolds gets around that by mostly removing Spiderman from the story and focusing on Miles Morales, a half black and half Puerto Rican growing up in Brooklyn and trying to fit in in a school for rich kids where he doesn't feel he belongs. There are certainly very comic-booky elements to this novel (why wouldn't there be?) but Reynolds finds a way to tell a gripping and often moving way to tell Miles' story. This comic book character novelization manages to deal with institutional racism in a more honest and interesting manner than any "serious" novel I've read in a long time. -Danny
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I urge you not to start reading this before bed. Unless you are the type of person who enjoys staying up all night reading, because you won't be able to put this book down. It is that good! Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, bam, plot twist. It had my heart pounding, my pulse racing, I was on the edge of my seat (and other such cliches), and I enjoyed every single moment. Do yourself a favor and read this book, it will not disappoint. -Faith
I'll be honest. I was prepared for this to be a cheesy take on witchcraft and demonology. I expected either romance or bromance but I was pleasantly surprised to encounter neither. Prosper Redding is your typical teenage boy from a very old and very wealthy family . . . until the night his grandmother takes him and his twin sister Prudence before the assembled adults of the Redding family. Bracken definitely did her homework in both magick and demonology, skillfully twin\sting them into the world of a snarky but frightened teenage boy. -Scott
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In a not too distant future, VR technology could take us to a place where all of our senses are engaged. This fantastic story has you guessing what is real and what is virtual. In OTHERWORLD, you get to indulge in any desire, but are you safe? Explore the realms of Otherworld with Simon, as he tries to uncover the truth through this game of fantasy, love, and survival. -Paul
Wow. This novel shocked, amused, and horrified me. Alex feels numb in the years after her older sister's murder. When the killer walks free she finally feels again, but it's rage and vengeance that come flooding in. She delivers justice on her own and also gets away with it, but can she trust herself now that she's committed such a violent act? Formerly a loner, in her senior year of high school she makes a new friend and possibly a boyfriend, but can these human connections change or soften her inner darkness? An unforgettable exploration of rape culture and sexual assault, McGinnis creates realistic teens and avoids producing a teenage vigilantly in a black and white world. There's a lot of gray here, but ultimately this is a story of loyalty to those we love and how violence begets more violence. -Camilla
When the biggest flood in a century submerges Oxford two stories under water, inquisitive twelve-year-old Malcolm Polestead finds himself suddenly on a quest. With him are Alice, baby Lyra, and Malcolm’s canoe, La Belle Sauvage. Pursued by the vengeful Gerard Bonneville, the trio are swept along a perilous journey from Oxford to London to deliver Lyra to Lord Asriel, encountering many other adversaries along the way. It was viscerally nostalgic to reenter Philip Pullman's magical world of Lyra's Oxford full of daemons and Dust. A sort of prequel to the Golden Compass books, familiar characters make appearances and the C.C.D. is quickly gaining power. I found THE BOOK OF DUST a remarkably refreshing addition to the YA genre, and like his other books it will be enjoyed by any age reader. -Leah
Leigh Bardugo's collection of fairy tales set in her "grishaverse" are dark, haunting, and beautiful. Bardugo takes the tropes of popular fairy tales and flips them around that left me in a state of wonderment and suspense. Also, it contains amazing artwork from Sara Kipin which adds another element to the stories that can be appreciated. This is a must-have for fans of fairy tales and a great starting point for those that are wanting to dive into Bardugo's magical Grishaverse. -Tim
I will never get tired of reading Much Ado About Nothing. Here's the latest retelling! Welcome to 1920s New York during the height of prohibition. Hero and her friends run a speakeasy, Hey Nonny Nonny, that's in need of some financial help: enter the Italian mob and other unsavory folk; Beatrice the aspiring doctor, and a couple prep school boys escaping for the summer, Claude and Benedick. If you're tired of intense drama in your stories, take a break with this familiar classic comedy told in a clever new light. Let the battle of wits commence! -Leah
FAR FROM THE TREE is an engrossing story that explores some of the most challenging situations faced by modern teens. The constantly changing bonds of family and biological family are discovered, tested, and richly lived by the empathetic characters. As families become ever more complicated this will be important reading for teens and adults alike. -Rachel
It's the books I like the most that I find especially difficult to review. M. T. Anderson's latest sci-fi is categorized as YA, but that's only because his protagonist is a teen, aspiring artist Adam. He brings us up to date on the sorry state of earth, post alien-invasion: the gap between the rich and the middle class is wider than ever, jobs are scarce, health care nearly non-existent. But what truly pervades these spare but ringing vignettes is a sense of purposeless that can lead to desperation. Thank god Adam has his art, which allows him to reflect and dig for hope. Don't let this succinct and timely sci-fi slip past you. -Emmy
A new series by Marissa Meyer! I immediately liked Nova, she's determined, inventive, and has motives of her own. Her loyalties are stretched between the Anarchists who brought her up, and the Renegades who just want to keep her city safe. Also Adrian, prodigy, artist, and adopted son of the city's two most famous Renegades starts to question the real intentions behind their ruling. In Gatlon City the lines between superheroes and villains are blurred, as neither faction has peace on their agenda. There is an abundance of clever superpowers and a wide range of diversity in Renegades, and from the first chapter it's clear Meyer won't be pulling any punches. This may look like a tome of a book but I read it in one day because I literally couldn't stop reading. -Leah
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Haunting and heartfelt. I LOVED this book. The very first paged hooked me, with such descriptive language -- comparing a grief stricken woman with a meth head as she clawed at her face in mourning. Beautiful. Fire Color One contains characters that are lovable because they are flawed, and a plot twist I just didn't see coming! This book is amazing. Please check this book out! You won't regret it. -Ryan