Phillip Pullman set the fantasy world ablaze with His Dark Materials Trilogy. Though it has been almost twenty years since the series ended, Pullman draws readers back in with a prequel that takes place 10 years prior to The Golden Compass. A wonderful story for readers new and seasoned to Pullman’s work, La Belle Sauvage centers on Malcolm Polstead and his daemon (animal consciousness) Asta who live with his inn-owning parents in Oxford. A fascinating new baby named Lyra is under the care of the nuns at the priory where Malcom regularly helps out. But as a strange new man begins to frequent the area, a strict society takes control at school and a torrential flood threatens to break through Oxford and beyond, Malcolm must use his courage and wit to protect Lyra. With unlikely friends and foes, Malcolm’s story is redolent of His Dark Materials yet distinctly its own. The 1st installment in the Book of Dust Trilogy, La Belle Sauvage is an invitation into a world of good and evil, intrigue and epic adventure.
Wren Clemmens has found herself on a path of self-destruction without quite understanding why – she only knows there’s a deep underlying unhappiness that colors her days and actions. All of a sudden, she’s dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and shipped off to a desert survival camp for troubled teens. Angry and bitter, Wren resists help for as long as she can go without fire for cooking and warmth. Van Draanen builds a tale of self-discovery that is as dry and gritty as the desert itself. Wren sobers up both physically and emotionally and learns that she can shape herself into a person she can live with. This is part family drama, part survival tale, and part celebration of the desert and its denizens. It’s sad and uplifting, and impossible to put down.
Two teens, one scholarship – it happens all the time. There is only one space open at Green Pastures Academy of Art Fashion Design Department, and Charlie Dean was born for it. She has dedicated her life to fashion. She designs it and wears it and blogs it. She thinks about it all the time. John Thomas-Smith, on the other hand, is a talented metal sculptor, but the only scholarship available is for Fashion Design. He throws his hat in anyway. In alternating chapters, Charlie and John prepare their portfolios for the fashion show that will determine who gets the coveted award. With a lot of humor and surprising twists, Juby’s characters discover that passion isn’t measurable and we all have more in common than we would expect. A compulsive, entertaining and thought-provoking tale for teen readers everywhere.
A quick read, this beautiful YA realistic fiction will steal your heart. Bun O’Keefe says exactly what she thinks, doesn’t understand slang and has been invisible to the outside world. Set in the 1980s, Bun’s negligent hoarder mother throws her out of the house and she meets a busker on the Canadian streets of Newfoundland. As she becomes part of an eclectic group of friends, she dubs them “Busker Boy”, “Big Eyes” and “Chef” instead of using first names, providing a captivating and unique narration. Though her friends bring Bun to a healthier place than her neglectful upbringing–both physically and mentally–Bun still must fight off the tragedies of her past and the realities of not so good people. Heather Smith is an author to be remembered as Bun’s story will warm your heart and teach you the importance of truly caring for others. Content warning: sexual abuse.
Want by Cindy Pon (New YA)
Want is a face paced, near-future thriller with an engaging cast and high stakes. Pon’s look at a future where the air over Taipei is toxic, and the economic divide between those who can afford the technology to live in bubbles of clean air and those who cannot, is a disconcertingly viable look at a potential future. As protagonist Jason and his crew plan a heist to destroy one of the clean bubble factories, the story moves so quickly and dramatically that reaching the end seems as if you’ve only just begun reading. An excellent cyberpunk book with just enough trappings of science fiction to get hardcore sci fi fans interested.
Saints and Misfits is a wonderfully crafted novel with a lot of heart. Fifteen-year-old Janna is a relatable protagonist who navigates the world while dealing with religion, romance and the struggles of a teen girl. Her story will resonate with readers across a scope of experiences. Ali’s prose is vibrant and Saints and Misfits deserves to become a staple of YA contemporary literature. Content warning: sexual assault.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (New YA)
An Enchantment of Ravens is a fantasy book to remind fantasy readers why they love the genre. Beautiful prose, charming characters, and absolutely impeccable worldbuilding makes this a book that is impossible to put down.
Fairies are unable to partake in the act of creation, and Isobel is a portrait artist, painting pictures for her fairy clients. When the Autumn Prince, Rook, arrives one day for a portrait, Isobel finds herself charmed by the fey boy, until she paints a mortal emotion into his portrait. Upset with the flaw in the painting, Rook spirits her away into the forest to face trial for the misstep. During their trek through the forest they encounter the Wild Hunt and a creeping poison that’s slowly killing the forest. As they start to fall for each other, they risk breaking the fey’s single most deadly law: no fairy may fall in love with a human.
This haunting debut novel by Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of an alleged murderer, Mary B. Addison. Convicted of killing a white baby at just nine-years-old, Mary served six years in “baby” jail. Now a teen, she finds herself pregnant and living in a group home. Determined to protect her unborn baby, Mary is finally ready to tell the truth: she did not commit murder. The novel’s complex characters, disturbingly realistic portrayal of the juvenile justice system and exposition of race in America will leave a lasting impression.