New in YA: Fall Picks From Our Experts
Good news, YA readers: Our teen section is overflowing with amazing new books for you to read. Here, we’ve collected some of our favorite new YA picks across a variety of genres—including a heartrending memoir that’s one of our favorite books of the year.
Many of the reviews below come from members of our Teen Advisory Board, a great group of dedicated Houston-area readers. If you like what you see below, consider checking out our YA First Editions Club subscription — each title for the subscription is hand selected by the board. And with subscriptions starting at just three months, it’s a perfect gift for the YA reader in your life — or for yourself!
Ages 13 & up
Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
When the man she loves proposes to her stepsister out of the blue, Evangeline Fox is heartbroken. Driven by her loss, she makes a deal with the fated Prince of Hearts—in exchange for stopping the wedding, she now owes him three kisses that he can employ as he chooses. However, when the Prince’s solution to stopping the wedding is turning all of the participants to stone, Evangeline decides to take their place as a statue. When she comes back, she wakes to a magical world where the Fates run free—and fate certainly has something in store for her.
I really liked the writing in this book. It was both fantastical and beautifully written, and it read almost lyrically. I loved visualizing the magical world that Evangeline was in and discovering all of the secrets about Jacks and his plans. Overall, it was a great read, filled with suspense and wonderful storytelling.
—Caroline, Teen Advisory Board
Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer
In a kingdom ravaged by a mysterious virus, tensions between sectors are high. The young King Harristan and his brother, Prince Carrack, struggle to maintain order and navigate the political intrigue.
In The Wilds, outside the city walls, Tessa Cade and her friend Wes steal the rare and valuable moonflower petals, the only treatment for the virus, to try to keep their neighbors alive. Each night they take their lives in their hands to prepare the treatment and do the rounds of the sick.
After a particularly brutal act by the King's Justice, Prince Carrack, Tessa finds herself sneaking into the palace. What she discovers upends everything she knows. All the while a rebellion is brewing in the background.
Great world-building, a slow-burn romance and a lot of intrigue.
Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach
Eliza Quan is the managing editor of her school newspaper and fully expects to be elected editor in chief. When Len DiMartile decides to run on a whim and wins, Eliza has had enough and writes an essay decrying the patriarchal election results, someone anonymously posts the essay and it's all the entire school can talk about. Eliza and Len end up co-editing the paper to demonstrate civility and cooperation and may begin to fall for each other. A fast-paced YA romcom that touches on gender equality and what feminism really means.
Punching Bag by Rex Ogle
In his follow up to Free Lunch, Rex Ogle sparingly and clearly details his high school years facing both poverty and domestic abuse. He candidly and heartbreakingly describes his relationship with his mother, when he frequently serves as the responsible party. Through his memories, we learn more about the family's history and begin to understand the root of his stepfather's drinking and anger. We can tell that Rex is walking beside us as we get glimpses of love and of hope. And at the end, we know Rex survived and has thrived. It's an extraordinary memoir that's a hard but vitally important read.
Read our Q&A with the author
Attend our author event on October 5!
Ages 14 & up
Act Cool by Tobly McSmith
August, a trans boy who recently transitioned, has unsupportive parents. After he finds a conversion therapy brochure in the mail, he starts having ill thoughts and calls his Aunt. She invites him stay with her in New York and audition for a great acting school.
This story is about August’s journey to become accepting of himself and start a new life. He makes many accepting friends in New York living with his Aunt Lillian. He has to decide if he will continue acting in his real life or drop the act and accept himself. I loved this book because it really brought the struggles of our society to light, and it showed me what some people in the LGBTQ+ community have to endure—even from their families.
—Lillian, Teen Advisory Board
Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson
Jack Nevin is the assistant to the famous magician, ‘The Enchantress.’ After Jack is caught in thievery, they are forced to move together from Europe to America to perform their magic in a new setting. Once they settle in Seattle, they meet Lazlo, a con artist who is portraying himself as a magician and is keeping a boy named Wilhelm, who has real magic, hostage as his assistant. As Jack and Wilhelm get closer, Jack becomes more determined to free Wilhelm from his abusive situation with Lazlo.
Before We Disappear was a magical book that held my focus even though I am not usually interested in historical fiction. It was such a beautiful story of queer romance and magic and I love it with every inch of my body.
—Harper, Teen Advisory Board
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
"Only the dying girls like 'Sleeping Beauty,'" Zin tells us, before explaining that how she, as a dying girl, became obsessed with Sleeping Beauty. On her 21st birthday Zin's friend, Charm, throws her a Sleeping Beauty theme party complete with spinning wheel. At midnight Charm tells her to prick her finger. At first nothing happens, but then Zin breaks her skin and falls into the fairy tale.
This delightful novella is a mix of fairy tale adventure and feminist dissertation, in turns heart warming and heart breaking.
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
In a world where the dead do not always stay dead, Artemisia and her fellow nuns cleanse the bodies to allow their souls to pass on. Artemisia prefers the bodies, being awkward around people with her scarred hands and rumored past possession.
When her convent is attacked and one of the oldest nuns is killed, Artemisia becomes the new wielder of the Saint's relic and the ancient, malevolent spirit bound to it. With no training and no one left alive to train her, Artemisia is forced to turn to the spirit, a revenant, for help, drawing her in to a dark intrigue of saints, dark magic and church secrets.
Great world-building that is woven seamlessly into the storyline.
Dark Rise by CS Pacat
Will is on the run from the men who murdered his mother. On the docks of London he encounters an old servant who gives him a medallion and tells him to go to the Stewards. He has no idea what this means but, in his work on the docks, soon meets one and is drawn into a world of magic and destiny. But all is not as it seems…