The following are some of the latest installments in recommended YA series. The highlighted choices include some interesting takes on sci-fi, a little bit of romance, witches, dragons, teens with superpowers, tales of summer camp, and one series that defies explanation—and that you won’t want to miss.
ALPERT, Mark. The Siege. 288p. (The Six: Bk. 2). Sourcebooks/Fire. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492631705.
Gr 7 Up –In The Six, readers were introduced to Adam, a young teen with muscular dystrophy. When Sigma, an AI created by Adam’s father, goes rogue and threatens the future of humanity, Adam, along with five other terminally ill teens, agrees to undergo an experimental procedure that will meld his body with a weaponized robot. In the latest installment, Sigma is back and smarter than ever—it now understands human betrayal and plans to use it to its full advantage in the next stage of its war against humanity. Will Adam and the other Pioneers be able to stop Sigma again? Alpert’s series is a fascinating tale of humans vs. technology, a conflict that is often missing from YA sci-fi offerings. Give to readers looking for a technology-driven sci-fi story. This series can also be used as a bridge to Isaac Asimov’s adult “Robot” series.
BOECKER, Virginia. The King Slayer. 368p. (The Witch Hunter: Bk. 2). ebook available. Little, Brown. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316327237.
Gr 9 Up –The atmosphere of Boecker’s series is perfectly reflected in the tagline from the first book, The Witch Hunter: “Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.” Elizabeth Grey lives in a world where witches are feared and hunted. She also happens to be one of the king’s best witch hunters. However, her existence is turned upside down when she is accused of being a witch herself. Torn between the beliefs she followed for years and seeing through the eyes of the recently accused, Elizabeth is forced to redefine everything she once thought she knew. In the second volume, Lord Blackwell has usurped the king’s throne, placed a large bounty on Elizabeth’s head, and is growing more power-hungry by the day. With her new allies, Elizabeth decides to use her training and skills to make up for her past by becoming a king slayer. Perfect for fans looking for a fantasy world that is full of magic but with a hint of a Salem-esque society of people who fear the unknown.
Brennan, Marie. In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent. 352p. (A Natural History of Dragons: Bk. 4). Starscape/Tor. Apr. 2016. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9780765377630; ebk. ISBN 9781466856981.
Gr 9 Up –This installment continues the adventures of Isabella—Lady Trent—the world’s foremost dragon naturalist and the woman responsible for taking the study of dragons out of myth and into proper science. Presented as published volumes of her private memoirs, this series follows Lady Trent’s life as she bucks society’s expectations for young women and compromises her future prospects at a proper marriage and her own safety as she travels the world to study dragons. This book chronicles her adventures in the dangerous deserts of Akhia, where she has been sent by the Royal Scirling Army to investigate a case of dragon breeding. YA librarians may have missed out on Brennan’s series, since it is published as adult fiction. However, there is great crossover potential. Give to teens who love dragons or archaeology and those who are seeking a story starring an independent, smart female Indiana Jones–like heroine.
BUEHRLEN, M.G. The Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare. 232p. (Alex Wayfare: Bk. 2). ebook available. Diversion. Apr. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781682300589.
Gr 7 Up –Teens who happened to catch the first book, The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, originally published in 2014 by Angry Robot’s now-defunct YA sci-fi imprint, Strange Chemistry, will rejoice to learn that Diversion has picked up the series. In the previous volume, readers were introduced to Alex Wayfare, a young teen who has lived a life full of visions of the past. While this may sound exciting, Alex has no control over when and where her visions overcome her, meaning she is a social pariah at school and often spends too much time in the principal’s office. It is not until the protagonist meets a mysterious boy that she learns that she is a Descender, a person with the power to travel between the past and the present, and so far Alex is one soul who has actually lived 56 lives. The second entry opens with Alex using her power to find a cure for her sister’s terminal cancer. However, her progress is interfered with by other Descenders who want to stop her travels and can do so with the advantage of knowing many of Alex’s moves before Alex herself decides on them. Recommend to teens who enjoy time travel and stories of possible reincarnation.
CASS, Kiera. The Crown. 288p. (The Selection: Bk. 5). ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062392176.
Gr 9 Up –The series comes to a conclusion with this installment. The first three volumes, The Selection, The Elite, and The One, followed America Singer as she was chosen to be one of 35 girls to participate in the Selection—a competition to win the heart of Prince Maxon—and made her way to the top six and eventually was named the winner. The fourth book, The Heir, introduced their grown daughter, Eadlyn, who has lived for years hearing stories about her parents’ fairy-tale romance but has no intention of repeating their history. However, she is eventually forced to take part in her very own Selection, choosing between 35 eligible young men to be her prince. The last book will reward die-hard fans with Eadlyn’s final choice—whether they agree with it or not. Purchase where the series has been popular among teens.
CHILDS, Tera Lynn & Tracy Deebs. Relentless. 288p. (The Hero Agenda: Bk. 2). ebook available. Sourcebooks/Fire. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492616610.
Gr 9 Up –Kenna lives in a world of dichotomies—people are either labeled “Heroes,” like her own mother and BFF, or “Villains,” like the man who killed her father. However, Kenna is an odd girl out, as she is neither—she is just plain old boring normal. In the first entry, Kenna, attempting an experiment to change her lot in life, is saved from a dangerous break-in at her lab by a Villain, which causes her to realize that the world might not be so clearly defined as she thought it once was. In Relentless, Kenna is on the run from the government after having unearthed secrets about superpowered people while her boyfriend is in jail awaiting execution and her mother is held captive. However, there are even more secrets to be exposed that will tie all Heroes and Villains together. To survive long enough to expose them, Kenna must rely on her greatest power—her unwillingness to back down from a fight. Give to young adults looking for an action-packed title to read between their wait for the next installments in the various popular comic book movie franchises.
COLASANTI, Susane. Lost in Love. 352p. (City Love: Bk. 2). ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062307736.
Gr 9 Up –This series follows the final summer together of Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna, three teens sharing an apartment in New York City before beginning their freshman year of college. Sadie, the romantic of the group, always sees the best side of things and is searching for her soul mate. Darcy is the rich-girl rebel looking for a summer full of adventures with boys. Rosanna is trying to reinvent herself and quickly is introduced by a boy to the wealthy side of New York, but she barely has a dollar to her name. The latest volume finds Sadie wondering if she ever really knew Austin, the boy she thought was her soul mate but who revealed a relationship-changing secret. Darcy has been having fun with no-strings-attached romantic hookups until Logan, an ex-boyfriend, shows up, determined to win her heart. Meanwhile, things are heating up between Rosanna and D, but she fears opening up to him about her past. Colasanti is a reigning romance champion in the YA world, so this new series is a no-brainer purchase where her books are hard to keep on the shelf.
GREY, Melissa. The Shadow Hour. 432p. (Girl at Midnight: Bk. 2). Delacorte. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744676.
Gr 9 Up –In The Girl at Midnight, readers met Echo, a pickpocket who ended up in an ancient underground society beneath New York City full of people called the Avicen. Members of this race must remain hidden because of their feathers and their magic. When rumors of an upcoming war reach Echo’s ears, she decides to do anything she can to save the people she considers family. Supposedly, if a mythical entity called the Firebird can be found, the conflict will end forever. As a thief, Echo knows there is one thing she is good at—finding items and taking them. The second entry opens as the heroine discovers that she is the Firebird. Now, she must learn to harness her new powers in order to face off against the darkness that comes with the Dragon Prince’s arrival. The end battle will find someone close to Echo stolen away, which will set the stage for the final fight, when she will have to resort to her original skills and set out to “steal” this person back. Overall, this is an intriguing paranormal fantasy that focuses on a secret society hidden among everyday, ordinary people. Recommended for teens interested in fantasy worlds and epic battles.
HOWARD, Amalie. The Fallen Prince. 384p. (The Riven Chronicles: Bk. 2). ebook available. Sky Pony. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781510701700.
Gr 9 Up –This is the second formerly defunct Strange Chemistry series to be republished and continued, this time by Sky Pony Press. The first volume, The Almost Girl, appeared back in 2013 and introduced readers to Riven, a 17-year-old girl who arrives on Earth from a parallel world that is dying from a war with androids. Riven is a Legion General, a high-ranking official in Prince Cale’s army, and she was not too happy to be sent to Earth to find Cale’s long-lost brother, Caden. Riven found herself in a totally different world that she was unprepared to navigate as she was forced to set aside her training as a soldier in order to blend in and act like an average human girl. The second book opens with Riven coming to terms with her true identity—she is such a good soldier because she is a human with cyborg DNA flowing through her veins. Thinking that her home of Neospes is in good hands now that the rightful ruler has been reinstated, she leaves to hunt down her father and make him pay for his crimes against her people. The heroine learns that not all is right in Neospes—that the army has been annihilated and no one is left to stand up against the new threat but Riven and her estranged father. However, her father demands her complete surrender to him in exchange for his help. Will she choose to save herself or give in to her father and save her people? Hand this lesser-known series to fans of “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” who are still looking for new dystopian battles to get invested in.
JAMES, Steven. Curse. 490p. (Blur: Bk. 3). ebook available. Amazon/Skyscape. May 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781503933453.
Gr 9 Up –This trilogy follows 16-year-old Daniel Byers as he encounters disturbing visions that aid him in solving mysteries. Daniel first discovered his powers in Blur when the body of freshman Emily Jackson was found and he had a vision of her at her funeral. However, as he investigated her death, his visions soon started to blur reality and fantasy. In Fury, Daniel’s visions receded a bit since solving Emily’s murder. However, his life is far from normal: his father disappears, and Daniel realizes that his visions are the only clue to finding him. In Curse, Daniel, now a senior, is looking forward to his basketball camp, when his visions come back, this time bringing horrible, nightmarish creatures mixed with possible memories from his childhood. If that isn’t complicated enough, he soon finds himself in the company of some other teens—with their own unique abilities—to help save a girl who has been kidnapped. This complete paperback series is a good addition to collections looking for books focusing on teens with unusual powers.
LEE, Stan & Stuart Moore. The Dragon’s Return. illus. by Andie Tong. 432p. (The Zodiac Legacy: Bk. 2). Disney. Jan. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484713525.
Gr 6 Up –In Convergence, Steven, while on a class trip to a museum in Hong Kong, stumbles across a mysterious ritual that awakens the powers of the Chinese zodiac and is embodied with the powers of the Tiger. Fearing for his safety, Carlos and Jasmine, trying to prevent the power-hungry Maxwell from completing the ritual, convince Steven to leave his life behind and join them. His interference allows Jasmine to receive half of the Dragon’s power while half of the other Zodiac powers are released into the world. Steven works with his new friends to harness his powers and locate the young people throughout the world who have received the rogue powers. The Dragon’s Return opens one year later, with Steven and the rest of the Zodiac team falling apart. Carlos is missing, Jasmine is focusing all her efforts on finding him, and some of the other Zodiacs are contemplating going home. Maxwell uses this turmoil to rage a second attack against the team, determined to retrieve all of the powers for himself. With Steven forced to take on the role of leader, will he know whom to trust and be able to get his friends to work together to stop Maxwell again? This is a fast-paced, action-filled superhero adventure with a likable Chinese American protagonist and a unique look at the Chinese zodiac. Give to superhero fans, especially reluctant readers, who will be drawn into the story with the help of Tong’s full-page illustrations.
O’DOWD, Chris. The Fish Detective. illus. by Nick V. Murphy. 336p. (Moone Boy: Bk. 2). ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. May 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781250059475.
Gr 5 Up –Readers were first introduced to Martin Moone in The Blunder Years. He’s a kooky Irish boy growing up in a family full of girls. Martin is desperate for a wing man to give him life advice, so his best friend, Padraic, suggests he find an imaginary friend (IF). A few days later, Loopy Lou arrives in Martin’s closet. However, Loopy soon gets on Martin’s nerves, and he applies for a second IF, Sean. Unfortunately for Sean, Martin messed up the IF process—he was supposed to find a new home for Loopy Lou before applying for a new IF, and the IF Agency wants to decommission Sean. In the second installment, Martin’s family is low on cash, so Sean suggests that Martin get his own job. He becomes the butcher boy for Padraic’s aunt. However, the Francie Feely’s Fabulous Fishatorium across the street is stealing all her business! Deciding something fishy is going on, Martin and Sean investigate the fish factory. O’Dowd, famous for his role as Roy on the British comedy The IT Crowd, created, wrote, and starred in the show Moone Boy. The first volume acts as a prequel to the series, explaining how Martin ended up with Sean as his IF, while the second continues their hilarious adventures. Narrated by Sean and interspersed with cartoon illustrations, this series is an overlooked UK import. Give to fans of funny books, “Wimpy Kid,” and O’Dowd’s film work.
SALISBURY, Melinda. The Sleeping Prince. 336p. (The Sin Eater’s Daughter: Bk. 2). ebook available. Scholastic. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545921275.
Gr 9 Up –In The Sin Eater’s Daughter, 16-year-old Twylla is engaged to the Prince of Loremere but is an outcast. People fear her because she also happens to be the kingdom’s executioner. One simple moment of skin-to-skin contact with her will emit a poison that will kill. Twylla feels that no one will truly be able to love her. When a new guard, Lief, arrives at the jail, he looks at her like she is a real person. When they uncover a devious plot by the Queen to destroy Loremere’s enemies that could place everyone in danger, they join together to save the kingdom. The second installment opens with the Queen awakening the Sleeping Prince, who is not very happy about the years he spent cursed from his long enchantment. The plot then follows Errin, Lief’s sister, as she tries to take care of their ill mother, who she believes has “Scarlet Varulv,” a disorder that causes her to act like a wild animal during the full moon, by selling illegal herbal cures in an effort to keep her out of an asylum. When her village is evacuated because of the impending war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin must travel across the kingdom to save her family. Give to teens who enjoy fairy-tale settings with good vs. evil conflicts and battles mixed with fantasy magic, strange creatures, and spooky folklore.
Shepherd, Megan. The Hunt. 368p. (Cage: Bk. 2). ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062243089.
Gr 9 Up –The Cage introduced readers to Cora Mason, a young teen who wakes up in a desert with no memory of how she arrived there. As she explores her environment, she discovers that the setting changes from desert to tundra to farm to jungle. She meets four other teens, and eventually they are introduced to their jailer, Cassian, an alien who informs them that they have been abducted from Earth to be living exhibits in an otherworldly zoo. Cora and Cassian develop an attraction to each other, and Cora faces a difficult decision: choosing between Cassian, who could help her escape, and her fellow humans. The Hunt opens after the teens’ failed escape attempt as Cora, Mali, and Lucky are punished by being placed in the Hunt—a safari-themed exhibit where humans and animals must serve the Kindred masters. Rolf and Nok end up in a dollhouselike exhibit where Kindred scientists poke Nok, interested in her human pregnancy. Lastly, Leon, the only teen to succeed in escaping, teams up with some black-market traders. Amid the dangers of their new confinements, Cora is selected to represent humanity in the Gauntlet—a series of tests to prove the worthiness of humans. But can Cora learn to trust the person in charge of training her—Cassian—who betrayed her during their escape attempt? Shepherd’s latest series takes the famous human zoo concept from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and gives it a YA survival twist. Give to fans of dystopian novels looking for a unique twist or fans of Lynne Matson’s “Nil” series.
Sigler, Scott. Alight. 448p. (Generations Trilogy: Bk. 2). ebook available. Ballantine/Del Rey. Apr. 2016. Tr $18. ISBN 9780553393156.
Gr 9 Up –In the first installment, a young girl awakens in a box only to discover herself surrounded by more boxes, filled with other living—and some dead—teens. The survivors of whatever event occurred have only one thing in common: they all believe it’s their birthday. The second entry opens with Em and the rest of the Birthday Children arriving at their new home, a place called Omeyocan. While this is supposed to be a safe haven, the teens find signs that a lost civilization may have once lived there and might have met a horrifying end. Are they safe? Are there new enemies hiding in the jungle? What about enemies from within who might use the dangerous situation to remove Em as leader? Sigler’s series is one that is hard to discuss without giving away too many spoilers. It is comparable to Ilsa Bick’s “Dark Passages” novels in that it is so mind-blowing that it defies categorization. This series is recommended for all teen collections, especially those in need of titles that cross genres. Give to teens who request a book that is “totally different” from anything they’ve read before.
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