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What's Up in YA

What Makes A YA Book “The Best Of All Time?”

Hey YA Readers!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the recently released TIME 100 Best YA Books of All Time list, which works to both update their previously messy list, while also noting the ways YA has changed dramatically since 2016. The list, created in collaboration with YA authors Kacen Callender, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, Angie Thomas, and Nicola Yoon, was developed by three TIME staffers, along with a number of the publication’s team members.

It is, without question, a much better list than the previous one. Part of that is not allowing it to be a free for all nomination system, and part of it is that the team of YA authors included in this project better represent YA books and the diversity of readers.

But the list is still flawed and raises more questions than it answers.

Image of a teen reading in a hammock.

In their methodology, the creators explain that this list is geared heavily toward very recent titles. The growth of diverse voices is the primary factor, which is why more than half the list is from the last decade. 2017 is particularly represented.

The creators also express the amorphous nature of the label “young adult,” permitting the list to include adult titles that teens have classically picked up in schools, as well as a not-insignificant number of middle grade titles. For anyone who has spent time with YA, the amorphous nature cited by TIME from Michael Cart is less about permitting any book with an adolescent protagonist to be given the label. It’s instead meant to explain why many books with adolescent themes are not YA books. YA is something wholly itself, something understood best by those with a broad scope of knowledge about the category. That scope means a wide one, stretching back to when YA became a category in and of itself. When teens were seen as a separate designation of human development (and capital).

Though the authors who took part in this collaboration are indeed writing some of the most powerful and moving work in YA, it’s worth pausing to consider that all of them are writing in the same period of time: right now. They were not authors in the 2000s, the 1990s, the 1980s, and so forth; certainly they are more representative of today’s world, but that’s the point precisely. They represent today’s world.

And the three TIME staffers who spearheaded the project? They’re mid- to late- 20s and early 30s.

There’s a notable lack of nonfiction on this list, which exemplifies a regular problem in discussing YA. I come back, again and again, to a simple Tumblr post from YA author Malinda Lo in 2015 (Lo’s work not on TIME’s list). Nonfiction for teens has represented the world in tremendous ways, even when fiction lagged behind. So a “best of all time” list including only 7 nonfiction titles — two of which are part of the same graphic memoir series, and one of which is arguably middle grade — does disservice to the entire category of YA, as well as disservice to the talent who have been writing knockout books, and to readers who don’t get exposed to these titles.

Ninety-two percent of the list being fiction, one would expect to see some evergreen titles here. Indeed, Catcher in the Rye lands on the list, as does To Kill a Mockingbird. Neither are YA books.

Image of book cover for Annie on my Mind

Missing is Annie on My Mind, one of the most influential books of the 20th century. It’s a classic of queer YA literature and it has never been out of print since its debut in 1982. But it’s not on the list.

Missing is The Outsiders, a book many consider the first “real” YA book and the start of the entire category. It is indeed a complicated book and author, especially in today’s world — SE Hinton has pushed back many times, alienating readers who see queer subtext in the story — but the TIME list notes in their methodology books they did include have been damaging and yet “for as long as they will be passed along to young readers, it will remain essential to recognize where they fail as well as where they succeed.”

Hinton’s book was published in 1967.

Other obvious exclusions from the “best of” list include YA titles like The Pigman by Paul Zindel, Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee (the first YA book by an Asian American author with an Asian American lead), anything by Robert Cormier (how do you leave The Chocolate War off a “best of all time” list?), anything by Norma Klein, Paula Danzinger, Lois Duncan, Norma Fox Mazer, or Virginia Hamilton? His Own Where by June Jordan is missing, as are books by Mitali Perkins, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Sharon G. Flake, Angela Johnson. That the how of the list paints a broad stroke of what YA literature of the 70s, 80s, and 90s looked like further marginalizes the authors who were — and still are — putting their books out there.

Original cover for His Own Where

YA marketing has failed in highlighting diverse books from years prior to We Need Diverse Books, and it’s absolutely true that publishing has not been welcoming to BIPOC creators. But those books exist prior to today’s era, and they were forerunners, groundbreakers, and worthy of inclusion on a “best of” list. Is it fair to call a new author’s debut book among the “best of all time,” when books which hit shelves prior by beloved, classic authors of color are missing? That puts tremendous pressure on a single book, while simultaneously ignoring the groundwork laid before it.

Can you have a “best of all time” list that ignores global literature? TIME’s list fails to include works in translation, and it’s almost entirely books originally published in the United States (there are a few exceptions, including The Book Thief, which wasn’t even published as YA in its home country).

Building a best of all time list is a tremendous task, and we saw how it failed in 2015. TIME’s new list attempts to make amends for it, but in the process, it raises far more questions than anything. Is it even possible to really create a “best of all time” list, when that list is outdated the moment it’s published? How do we know a book published in 2021 is among “the best of all time?” It hasn’t had time to make an impact.

Can it be a “best of all time” when there are not critics or academics or librarians who study this category of literature to provide their input? Today’s authors have a finger on the pulse, but their scope of knowledge would only be enhanced by those who’ve dedicated their lives to studying the entire scope of the category.

This is a good list, but it’s not the “best of all time.” It’s extremely limited in what it offers, doesn’t meet its own criteria, and only represents a fraction of the YA category.

No list can truly be a “best of all time.”

Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to create something unique and instead, celebrate a category as a whole, with its challenges, its flaws, its triumphs, and its standouts. It’s been long past time to talk about outstanding backlist titles by marginalized writers on a platform of TIME’s scale, and a platform like that would do wonders for the bounty of YA nonfiction. It’s time to dig into why some books are classics, why some are consistently called YA when they’re not, and why it’s important, as TIME itself said, “to recognize where [YA classics] fail as well as where they succeed.”

Let’s appreciate YA for what it is: expansive, creative, groundbreaking, and life-changing.

YA doesn’t always need to be culled into a best of all time to give it validity.


Thanks, y’all, for hanging out. We’ll see you again later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and ardent defender of YA nonfiction

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What's Up in YA

Magic, Love by the Book, and More YA Ebook Deals

Hey YA Readers!

Get ready to load up your ereader with some outstanding ebook deals this weekend. You’re going to find something here you love.

I love the idea of a futuristic Sleeping Beauty, which is the premise of Lori Beth Johnson’s Goddess in the Machine. $3.

Lord of the Flies, but of actual interest to teens, Damselfly looks awesome. $2.

Elatsoe book cover

If you haven’t read the award-winning, genre-bending Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, grab it now for $3.

Editor Dahlia Adler’s anthology of Shakespeare retellings, That Way Madness Lies, is on sale for $3.

Want a contemporary spin on Anna Karenina? Grab Anna K by Jenny Lee, first in a series, for $3.

By the Book by Amanda Sellet is a rom-com about a girl who takes advice from classic literature and tries to use it to win the heart of her crush. $2.

Magic schools and magic spaces your jam? Lobizona by Romina Garber is the first in a series and on sale for $3.

Kristina Forest’s I Wanna Be Where You Are combines ballet, a road trip, and romance, with a Black girl at the center of the story. $3.

Francina Simone’s Smash It! is on sale for $3.

For fans of fairy tales, The Hazel Wood is a must-read and comes in at $3.


Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Monday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

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What's Up in YA

An Audiobook 46 Years in The Making and More YA Book News and New Books: August 19, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s catch up on the latest in YA book news and new YA books this week.

YA Book News

New YA Books

Hardcover

Cazadora book cover

Cazadora by Romina Garber (series)

Dagger Hill by Devon Taylor

Ebonwilde by Crystal Smith (serires)

The Endless Skies by Shannon Price

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

Living Beyond Borders edited by Margarita Longoria

Moth by Amber McBride

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko (series)

Paperback

If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley

Lobizona by Romina Garber (first in a series)

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (series)

The Secret Runners by Matthew Reilly

Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho (series)

This Week at Book Riot

Never Too Old To Read Young Adult Book Mark

This bookmark tells nothing but the truth. Snag one for $3.


Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Saturday with some great YA ebook deals.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

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What's Up in YA

Celebrate YA Women Writers in Translation

Hey YA Readers!

Did you know August is Women in Translation month? Starting in 2013, the month-long event celebrates voices of women, trans, and nonbinary writers whose work has been translated into English. By highlighting these voices, readers not only are able to make their reading lives more inclusive, but it’s a reminder to the publishing world the need to bring more international stories to English readers.

You may or may not know that books in translation experience what many call the 3% problem: only about 3% of books published in English are translations. If you boil this down further, that means the fraction of those who aren’t men in translation is even smaller, and looking at what this means for children’s and teen literature, well, you can imagine how minuscule the number is. These are realities that the Women in Translation and the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative are working to bring light to and change.

In honor of this month, let’s take a look at some of the recent YA in translation by women — in this roundup, all of the writers in the original language identify as women or use she/her pronouns, per their English-language biographies. Not all of the translators do.

Note that this is also a very white list. Despite being a global initiative and these stories being international, whiteness still dominates translation, at least in YA. The bulk of these are from European counties, showcasing how there is always still more work to be done, even in an area where there has been slow progress.

abigail book cover

Abigail by Magda Szabó, translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix

The New York Review of Books Classics line has begun to expand into children’s and teen lit, and Abigail is one that’ll definitely be for fans of dark academia. The book follows Gina, the only child of a general, who is sent away to a religious boarding school. It’s the midst of World War II, and Gina is fighting with everyone at school, to the point where she chooses to run away. She’s caught, though, and now, she’s resigned herself to putting her trust in Abigail, the school’s classical statue who is rumored to offer help to those who seek her out.

almond book cover

Almond by Won-pyung Sohn, Translated by Sandy Joosun Lee from Korean

This is a short but super complex story of two very broken teenagers who find one another and develop an odd, uncomfortable, but ultimately necessary friendship with one another. Don’t go into this one for plot. Go into it for fascinating character studies. It’s a short book, with small chapters, but each word and description is exacting and offers so much depth to Yungjae and his experience living with a disorder that doesn’t allow him to fully feel or express empathy, even though consciously he understands what it is. Readers familiar with Janne Teller’s Nothing — an older book by a woman in translation — will especially dig this one.

beyond the blue border book cover

Beyond the Blue Border by Dorit Linke, Translated from German by Elisabeth Lauffer

Hanna and Andreas live in oppressive East Germany and are expelled from school for their activism. They end up working in a factory and together, realize that this is not the life they want. It’s dangerous to flee, but they decide it’s worth it for a chance of freedom. The book follows as they attempt to escape to the democratic West by swimming across the choppy Baltic sea.

ill keep you close book cover

I’ll Keep You Close by Jeska Verstegen, Translated by Bill Nagelkerke from Dutch (November 9)

Verstegen’s memoir is about generational trauma and follows as she works to unravel why it is her mother seems to keep her family in hiding. When her grandmother slips up and calls Verstegen by the wrong name, she has her first clue. It’s from here she discovers the terror her family survived and is trying to move on from.

oksi book cover

Oksi by Mari Ahokoivu, Translated by Silja-Maaria Aronpuro from Finnish (October 26)

Graphic novels in translation are such powerful reads and whenever I get my hands on one, I’m always amazed by how the visuals are truly the driver of comic storytelling. Ahokoivu’s story is a spin on Finnish folklore, following a family of bears, wherein mother works to ensure the safety of her young ones while avoiding the dark, scary forest. It’s a story of new and old gods, family legacy, and the stars.

wondrous journeys in strange lands

Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands by Sonia Nimr, Translated by Marcia Lynx Qualey from Arabic

This sounds a little bit like a take on The Canterbury Tales. Qamar is the main character and the story follows her journeys across the Mediterranean, where she finds herself becoming a pirate at times, a slave at times, a bookseller, and more. Nimr’s book is not going to be plot-heavy but it reads like a collection of small adventure stories (and fun fact: the translator is a former Book Rioter!).

If you’re eager to learn more, there’s a fabulous piece from Publishers Weekly about the challenges of children’s and teen translation from the perspective of the translators and publishers.


As always, thanks for hanging out. We’ll see you again on Thursday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

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What's Up in YA

Nonfiction, Surprising Adaptations, and More: Your YA Book News and New Books, August 12, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Before launching into this week’s book news and new books, an apology. In the deals newsletter on Saturday, I attributed The Monarchs to Dhonielle Clayton and Kass Morgan, when it should be attributed to Danielle Paige and Kass Morgan. Dhonielle is the author of books like The Belles and coauthor of the outstanding Blackout.

Let’s catch up on this week’s YA book news and new YA books.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Hardcover

The Champion by Taran Matharu (series)

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

cover of How Moon Fuentez Fell In Love With The Universe

How Moon Fuentes Fell In Love With The Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

In The Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

Mark of the Wicked by Georgia Bowers

Rainbow in the Dark by Sean McGinty

Rise Up From the Embers by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons (series)

Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis (series)

Paperback

Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin

The Challenger by Taran Matharu (series)

book cover of The Glare

The Glare by Margot Harrison

Girl From Nowhere by Tiffany Rosenhan

The Hoodie Girl by Yuen Wright

The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

This Week at Book Riot


Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you Monday.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

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What's Up in YA

Enjoy a Bite from These YA Food Truck Reads

Hey YA Readers!

I hope you’re ready to be hungry with today’s look at YA books featuring food trucks. Foodie YA has been on the upswing in the last couple of years, with tons of romances centered around finding love while competing on food reality shows and competitions, as well as on the job. It’s been fun to see so many, but I’ve got to say, I’m especially partial to YA food truck books.

I live in an area where we regularly have food truck festivals and they’re my favorite way to expand my culinary horizons. It’s a small town, so we don’t have a wide range of restaurants, and food trucks provide the opportunity to discover new foods without needing to travel far.

For teens, food trucks provide the same, and in YA literature food trucks offer such a perfect story setting. You have a workplace that’s tiny, and being in such a confined space offers a lot of time for things to happen between and among characters. This might be love, it might be friendship, or in some cases, it might be the ultimate punishment.

Find below a delicious array of food truck YA books. Included are two of my personal favorites that I never stop thinking about when I visit a food truck — my mind wonders what those characters might be up to, as well as what the actual teens who may be working those trucks are themselves experiencing. Note that there is only one book here by an author of color. We’ve seen a good number of foodie YA featuring teens (and authors) of color, but it’s surprising how few have included food trucks.

donuts and other proclamations of love book cover

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck

Easily one of my favorite books this year is Reck’s sophomore novel set on a Swedish food truck. Oscar lives with his grandfather and works with him on the truck; one of their specialties is a specific type of donut. What slowly unravels through the book is the story of how and why Oscar’s grandfather came to the US from Finland, as well as the immense weight of grief within him. There’s a fun and poignant plot in the story featuring a girl in Oscar’s class who asks him to help her with a project meant to repurpose apples tossed away during school lunches that, as you might guess, leads to a little bit of love along the way. This one’s a tear-jerker, with threads about queer love, about friendship, and includes plenty of delicious food, Swedish phrases, and even space for laughter.

cover for geekerella

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

First in a fun, fandom-centric twist on Cinderella, Poston’s novel follows Elle Wittimer, a devoted fan to the classic sci-fi series Starfield. When she learns about a costume contest wherein the prize is meeting one of the actors in the show’s reboot, she jumps at the chance. It’s with the money she makes from working at the Magic Pumpkin food truck that helps her fund the endeavor.

Darien is a teen actor who feels like such a fake. He’s been cast as one of the actors in the Starfield reboot but doesn’t think he’s cut out for it.

When Elle and Darien meet, though, they can do more for one another than imagined.

cover for the music of what happens

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

What happens when two very different teen boys, both with a heap of challenges in their lives, are working together in the Arizona heat for the summer on a food truck?

Sparks, potentially.

Max and Jordan are complete opposites, but being side by side in Coq Au Vinny might help them fall for each other, as well as better understand themselves.

the way you make me feel book cover

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

This book will make you laugh, as well as potentially hate the main character who is as much an obnoxious prankster teen as you can imagine (that, to me, is precisely what makes her endearing and real).

After a prank goes too far at school, Clara’s dad punishes her to a summer working the family food truck, KoBra, alongside Rose, an uptight classmate she cannot stand. She’s dreading every second of it. That is, until she allows herself to open up, to find connection with Rose, and to maybe find love with a boy she meets at a food truck festival whose name is Hamlet.

Goo has a way of writing complex and dynamic characters and weaves them into prose and situations that are both spot-on emotionally and hilarious.

I don’t know about you, but in my dream world, all of these food trucks would be at a festival in the same place and I’d enjoy the delicious offerings at each.


As always, thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

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What's Up in YA

Queer Teens and A Lot of Magic: Your YA Ebook Deals, August 7, 2021

Happy weekend, YA fans!

Find a rich array of ebooks for sale to help you load up your ereader with outstanding titles. Prices are current as of writing.

Elatsoe book cover

A magical murder mystery by a Native author with Native main characters? Sign me up for Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger for $3.

Another magical read you should snag is A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. $3.

Let’s continue the magical reads theme with Lobizona, first in a series by Romina Garber, for $3.

An anthology of Shakespeare reimaginings that came out this year is on sale for $3. Snap up That Way Madness Lies edited by Dahlia Adler.

Baby and Solo by Lisabeth Posthuma, one of my favorites of the year, follows the life of a suburban queer teen in the 90s. Pick this one up, especially for $3.

Victoria Ortiz’s biography of Ruth Bader Ginsberg for teens, Dissenter on the Bench, is $3.

Snag The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall for $3.

You can still buy Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, first in a fantasy series, for $3.

cover for the Ravens

The Ravens by Dhonielle Clayton and Kass Morgan (what a powerhouse team!) is $3. It’s the first in a series.

Anna Carey delivers a 90s-set, pop-culture infused thriller with This Is Not The Jess Show. $3.

Looking for a romantic read? Anna K by Jenny Lee — first in a series — is on sale for $3.

Julian Winters’s most recent book, The Summer of Everything, is $3.

Grab this road trip love story about a ballerina, I Want To Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest, for $3.


I hope you found your new favorite read this weekend.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you Monday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

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What's Up in YA

A New YA Ballet Adaptation, BUFFY Returns, and More YA News and New Books: August 5, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s catch up on this week’s small bit of YA news, as well as this week’s new releases.

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Hardcover

Dangerous Play by Emma Kress

Cover for The Dead and the Dark

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Fresh by Margot Wood

Gods and Monsters by Shelby Mahurin (series)

The Great Destroyers by Caroline Tung Richmond

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins

Like Other Girls by Britta Lundin

Mercury Boys by Chandra Prasad

Cover for Sugar Town Queens

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn

Suns Will Rise by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell (series)

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

Paperback

A Beautiful Doom by Laura Pohl

B*Witch by Paige McKenzie and Nancy Ohlin (series)

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud (series)

Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin

A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert

Facing the Sun by Janice Lynn Mather

Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford (series)

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (series)

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith

The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos

YA On Book Riot This Week


Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you on Saturday for tons of great ebook deals.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram

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What's Up in YA

Delectable YA Fantasy Duologies

Hey YA Readers!

I deeply wish fantasy was a genre within YA I could read. It’s not that I dislike it; it’s that my brain simply cannot immerse in a world outside the realms of reality. Magical realism and science fiction work for me because of how they’re still tied to our world, but something about fantasy is just challenging. It’s a weak spot in my reading and writing life, but we all have those, right?

The other thing that trips me a bit with fantasy, especially in YA, is how many in the genre are a series. I like reading one-and-done titles, as well as picking up series years after it’s concluded so I can blow through each book immediately after finishing the previous.

Perhaps my answer to this — and the way I can best push myself to read more fantasy in YA — is by digging into duologies. Two books make a series, but it’s two books total. It feels super accessible and engaging without requiring significant buy in.

I know many fantasy lovers dig these books, too, and it seemed like the right time as we begin winding down from an energetic summer to round up a handful of great, completed YA fantasy duologies.

I’ve pulled just the first book in the duology to highlight, with the title of the second book included with the description so you can snap it up as well (without being spoiled by the description).

Book cover for All The Stars and Teeth

All The Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Looking for pirates, mermaids, and an island kingdom? This one’ll do it for you. The story follows Amora, who has spent her life preparing to become a master of souls — it’s how she’ll secure her place on the throne. But when her demonstration of mastery doesn’t go well, she flees and strikes up a deal with a mysterious pirate.

All The Tides of Fate is book #2.

cover for Ashlords

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

If phoenix horses isn’t enough of a sell, perhaps the book being pitched as The Scorpio Races meets Red Rising does. This duology follows three phoenix horse riders who have to compete in the annual Races, which is an event replacing warfare in their empire. The riders can summon an impressive range of powers and alchemy throughout to work toward flory.

Bloodsworn is book #2.

Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

Dark + queer = win win.

Emanuela is a girl after my own heart in that she doesn’t play by the rules and doesn’t care what people think of her. That’s part of why she’s okay marrying her childhood best friend and heir to the wealthiest home in herr kingdom. . . even though both of them are gay. She simply wants the power.

But then, she accidentally kills the watercrea, the only source of her kingdom’s water. Now, people are dying of thirst and she must find a way to save them.

Into The Midnight Void is book 2.

cover for light at the bottom of the world

Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

This book marries what I love about science fiction — it’s a story set underwater, thanks to global warming and follows the contours of a compelling dystopia — but it’s infused with sea creatures, a corrupt government, and a girl who must partake in a marathon she’s not interested in. But if she wins, she’s been told she can have whatever it is her heart desires. In this case, her father who might otherwise be lost forever.

Richly imaginative, it’s a near-future, submerged London setting. Book two is Journey To The Heart of the Abyss.

cover for scavenge the stars

Scavenge The Stars by Tara Sim

Gender-bent Count of Monte Cristo! This duology follows a girl who is captive on a debtor ship. When she rescues a stranger from drowning, it turns out he’s able to offer her untold wealth and a wholly new identity, freeing her to a coastal city-state.

Now, Amaya is out for revenge against the person who ruined her and her family’s life.

Book two is Ravage The Dark.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

This duology is inspired by West African folklore and follows a boy named Malik, who sees a chance to escape his war-torn home town to start a new life with his sisters in a safer town. Too bad a vengeful spirit abducts his younger sister and, to get her back, Malik must kill the princess of the town where he wants to go.

That princess, though, has her own goals and wants to resurrect her mother using ancient magic . . . and it might be Malik who helps her do just that. That is, if the two of them don’t catch feelings for each other first.

Book two is A Psalm of Storms and Silence (the alliteration here is awesome, isn’t it?).


These duologies all sound excellent, even to someone who is fantasy-hesitant. I hope you snap one — or all — of these up and find your new favorite read.

Thanks for hanging out, and I’ll see you on Thursday!

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

Thanks to Nightfire for making this newsletter possible!

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What's Up in YA

Spring 2022 YA + Vintage Horror On Screen: Your YA Book News and New Books, July 29, 2021

Hey YA Fans!

This week’s roundup of YA news is packed with goodness. Usually this time of year is pretty quiet, but 2021 continues to be a whole new animal (in this particular case, that’s a good thing).

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

Where there was a lot of news, note that this week, the new releases are slimmer than normal. The good part about that is you have some time to catch up with that towering TBR.

Hardcover releases

Image of book cover for Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

The Silver Blonde by Elizabeth Ross

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

Paperback Releases

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen (series)

The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Salvation by Caryn Lix (series)

This Week at Book Riot

Image of a canvas tote bag, featuring a black girl reading a book. Behind her image are the words "after this chapter."

I’m obsessed with this tote bag — how many of us have said we’ll do the thing after this chapter? $19.


As always, thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you again on Monday.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram.

Thanks to Penguin Teen and They’ll Never Catch Us for making today’s newsletter possible.

Image of book cover for They'll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman.