What's Up in YA

The New (Queer) Horror Girlies: YA Book Talk, August 7, 2023

Hi YA Readers,

Erica here, sliding into your emails to talk YA with you while Kelly’s out.

Since I started working for Book Riot, my reading habits have changed, which makes sense. In addition to just reading more, I’ve started dabbling more in genres that I hadn’t been reading much of before. One of these genres is horror (though if you consider it more a mood than a genre, I’m right there with you).

I’m sure I’m not the only horror convert — it’s really having a moment. One cool thing I’ve noticed from all the great new horror coming out is how these books write women and young girls. So today, in the books I have for you, queer women of color are the Final Girls, gothic horror fittingly shows the cost of colonialism, and girls are the (avenging) monsters.

Before we get to that, make sure to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index! It’s what I use to assemble new release lists and it will keep you ahead of the library holds list. IYKYK.

Bookish Goods

Japanese Food Bookmarks 

Japanese Food Bookmarks by ydxart

These adorable bookmarks are inspired by Japanese food and are double-sided. $3

New Releases

cover of The Dark Place by Britney S. Lewis

The Dark Place by Britney S. Lewis

The Dark Place has the kind of genre-blending we stan. Seventeen-year-old Hylee Williams is stuck in the past. Quite literally. She has these moments where she disappears into a more sinister world that keeps replaying the night her older brother went missing. Though it’s been years, she thinks her brother is still alive, and that her disappearances are somehow linked to finding out what really happened. As her disappearing spells increase, she finds comfort in a boy she just met, but who she feels she’s known — and maybe even loved — for a while.

cover of Unnecessary Drama by Nina Kenwood

Unnecessary Drama by Nina Kenwood

A little force proximity + enemies-to-lovers never hurt anyone, and in this romcom, 18-year-old Brooke has to contend with both. As the strict rule follower that she is, she’s more than ready to follow her student housing’s rule of “no unnecessary drama” when she starts college. Thing is, her archnemesis, Jesse, turns out to be one of her new roommates. The same Jesse who she had her first kiss with in high school…

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight cover

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

Bayron has such a talent for taking familiar narratives and reworking them in a way that is simultaneously thought-provoking and natural. In You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight, 17-year-old Charity Curtis has the summer job any horror lover would want: playing the Final Girl in a full-contact horror game. At Camp Mirror Lake, she and her co-workers act out scenes from the beloved slasher movie Curse of Camp Mirror Lake, trying to make the experience feel as real as possible for guests. But then things get a little too real when her co-workers start disappearing. Now Charity and her girlfriend Bezi are trying to get to the bottom of the murders happening around them while becoming the Final Girls of their own story. Fans of horror will appreciate Bayron’s subversive take on many of the tropes of the genre, including how race and gender have traditionally been portrayed.

cover of She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

Gothic horror, family dynamics, and the horrors of colonialism all merge in this YA novel. When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam, she realizes she’ll have to continue pretending to fit in. But as she tries to be the straight enough, Vietnamese enough daughter to her estranged father, she also starts noticing odd things about the French colonial house he’s restoring. And the five weeks she has to survive in the house may be too full of bug body parts, ghost brides, and paralysis for her to keep her sanity.

cover of Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle, featuring cartoon of four young people standing in front of a full moon

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

The art style of this graphic novel kind of reminds me of Archie comics but with an ’80s Barbie color scheme. I really dig it, in other words. Becca is the lesbian and Asian main character who gets caught up with the popular girls in high school…who also happen to be werewolves who fight back against predatory boys.

Thanks for hanging out!

Kelly’s back next week, but if you’d like to say “hi,” find me on the Hey YA podcast, the In Reading Color newsletter, and the In the Club newsletter.

Until next time!

— Erica