Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October Releases in Young Adult SFF

Every month, Fiction Affliction provides a handy reference of the science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and young adult paranormal coming out in the ensuing month. Today’s column examines speculative fiction aimed at the YOUNG ADULT reader.

The Symptoms: Teenagers everywhere are over-emoting and thumbing their noses at adult speculative fiction, as their own genre continues to be among the most cutting-edge out there. Really out there.

The Diagnosis: Thirty-six new Young Adult spec fiction titles hit the shelves in October, heavy on dystopian vistas and magical creatures — and half continuing the baffling trend of one-word titles.

The Cure: Forget werewolves and vampires — they’re so yesterday. Focus on the real creatures that matter: the fae, a mermaid or two, ghosts and witches, zombies and treecats… Treecats?

Week One

Palace of the Damned, by Darren Shan (Oct. 3, Little, Brown)

After failing his mentor and killing the entire crew of a ship in a bout of revenge for the death of his assistant, Larten is bereft with guilt. He no longer has the drive to live the vampiric life and hides out in Paris, masquerading as a human. There, he finds some happiness, even falling in love with a girl. But the darkness inside him is too great for humanity, and he is forced to make a choice: hide in the shadows of the human world, or take his place among the vampire clan and protect those weaker than himself. But enemies are waiting, traps are laid, and Larten’s path is bound to be strewn with bodies. Third in the Larten Crepsley series.

Eve, by Anna Carey (Oct. 4, HarperTeen)

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus — and the vaccine intended to protect against it — wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her girls’ school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her. Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive.

The Carrier of the Mark, by Leigh Fallon (Oct. 4, HarperTeen)

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she’s surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís. But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago — and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

Silence, by Becca Fitzpatrick (Oct. 4, Simon & Schuster)

The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They’ve overcome the secrets riddled in Patch’s dark past…bridged two irreconcilable worlds…faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust…and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they’ve worked for — and their love — forever.

Darkfall, by Janice Hardy (Oct. 4, Balzer + Bray)

War has come. Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it. With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location — without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will. The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way. Third in the Healing Wars series.

Z: Zombie Stories, edited by J.M. Lassen (Oct. 4, Night Shade)

When the zombie apocalypse comes, it’s not just those crusty old folks who will struggle against the undead, it’s young people. What happens when you come of age during the zombie apocalypse? Z: Zombie Stories has the answer to that question. Features some of the hottest zombie fiction of the last two decades, from authors including Kelly Link, Jonathan Maberry, Catherynne M. Valente, Scott Nicholson, Scott Edelman, and others.

Dark Vengeance 1: Summer, Fall, by Jeff Mariotte (Oct. 4, Simon Pulse)

When a gorgeous stranger seeks refuge at Kerry’s summer-share house, she knows her life is about to change. Daniel Blessing is mysterious and charismatic — and on the run from a powerful witch named Season. Kerry and her friends don’t believe in witches and spells, but Kerry can’t help believing Daniel, and falling for him. But falling for Daniel pulls her into a feud his family has been waging for generations — a feud of passion, magic, and revenge.

The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy (Oct. 4, Putnam Juvenile)

It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows, a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies.

The Inquisitor’s Apprentice, by Chris Moriarty (Oct. 4, Harcourt Children’s)

The day Sacha found out he could see witches was the worst day of his life. Being an Inquisitor is no job for a nice Jewish boy. But when the police learn that Sacha Kessler can see witches, he’s apprenticed to the department’s star Inquisitor, Maximillian Wolf. Their mission is to stop magical crime. And New York at the beginning of the twentieth century is a magical melting pot where each ethnic group has its own brand of homegrown witchcraft, and magical gangs rule the streets from Hell’s Kitchen to Chinatown.

A Beautiful Friendship, by David Weber (Oct. 4, Baen)

Stephanie Harrington absolutely hates being confined inside her family’s compound on the pioneer planet of Sphinx, a frontier wilderness world populated by dangerous native animals that could easily tear a human to bits and pieces. Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries — and the biggest discovery of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species. Treecatsare creatures that resemble a cross between a bobcat and a lemur (but with six legs and much more deadly claws). Not only are they fully sentient, they are also telepathic, and able to bond with certain gifted humans such as the genetically-enhanced Stephanie. But Stephanie’s find, and her first-of-its-kind bond with a treecat, brings on a new torrent of danger.

Variant, by Robison Wells (Oct. 4, HarperTeen)

Benson Fisher thought a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive. Where breaking the rules equals death.  But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death.

 

Week Two

The Goblin War, by Hilari Bell (Oct. 11, HarperTeen)

Tobin has finally crossed back from the Otherworld, where he was trapped in mortal peril for months — only to be captured by the dreaded, bloodthirsty barbarians the moment he enters his own Realm. Meanwhile, the pretty hedgewitch Makenna and her legion of goblins are still trying to find a way out of the Otherworld before it fatally drains their magic and life force. To escape, they will need help from the spirits that live there — but that aid will not come freely. Now the barbarians are out to take over the Realm, and only Makenna, Tobin, and his younger brother, Jeriah, know what is needed to stop them. Third in the Goblin Wood series.

The Death Cure, by James Dashner (Oct. 11, Delacorte)

Thomas knows that Wicked can’t be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they’ve collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test. What Wicked doesn’t know is that something’s happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can’t believe a word of what Wicked says. Third in the Maze Runner series.

Frost, by Wendy Delsol (Oct. 11, Candlewick)

After the drama of finding out that she’s a Stork, a member of an ancient and mystical order of women, and that her boyfriend, Jack, is a descendent of the Winter People able to control the weather, Katla Leblanc is delighted when all signs point to a busy and peaceful Christmas. That is, until the snowstorm Jack summons as a gift to Katla turns into the storm of the century, attracting Brigid, a gorgeous scientist who, in turn, attracts Jack. Second in the Stork series.

Awake at Dawn, by C.C. Hunter (Oct. 11, St. Martin’s Griffin)

Now that she’s settled in at Shadow Falls Camp, Kylie Galen’s determined to discover the extent of her supernatural abilities. But with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about die, a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, and her sixth sense telling her someone is watching her, Kylie’s quest for answers is quickly put on hold. To make matters worse, just when she’s about to give her heart to Derek, a half-fairy, he starts pulling away. When Lucas, a werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past, returns, Kylie’s feels more conflicted than ever. Second in the Shadow Falls series.

Steampunk! edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (Oct. 11, Candlewick)

Fourteen authors of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Authors include Garth Nix, Christopher Rowe, Kathleen Jennings, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Cory Doctorow, Shawn Cheng, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Delia Sherman, and Elizabeth Knox.

Unforsaken, by Sophie Littlefield (Oct. 11, Delacorte)

Hailey Tarbell is no typical girl. As one of the Banished who arrived from Ireland generations ago, Hailey has the power to heal — and, as she recently learned, to create zombies if she heals someone too late. But now, Hailey is getting a chance at a normal life, settling with her aunt, Prairie, and her little brother, Chub, in Milwaukee. But her safe world is blown apart when she tries to contact her secret boyfriend, Kaz — and alerts the man who’s looking for her true whereabouts. Second in the Banished series.

Fox & Phoenix, by Beth Bernobich (Oct. 13, Viking Children’s)

The king of Long City is dying. For Kai Zu, the news means more than it does for most former street rats in the small mountain stronghold, because he and the king’s daughter are close friends. Then the majestic ruler of the ghost dragons orders Kai to travel across the country to the Phoenix Empire, where the princess is learning statecraft. In a court filled with intrigue, Kai and his best friend Yan must work together to help the princess escape and return to Long City.

 

Week Three

Half-Blood, by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Oct. 18, Spencer Hill)

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-purebloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals? Well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pureblood Aiden.

The Infernals, by John Connolly (Oct. 18, Atria)

Samuel Johnson is in trouble. Not only is he in love with the wrong girl, but the demon Mrs. Abernathy is seeking revenge on him for his part in foiling the invasion of Earth by the forces of evil. She wants to get her claws on Samuel, and when Samuel and his faithful dachshund, Boswell, are pulled through a portal into the dark realm, she gets her chance. The second Samuel Johnson novel.

Beautiful Chaos, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Oct. 18, Little, Brown)

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected, and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What — or who — will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin? Third in the Beautiful Creatures series.

Dearly, Departed, by Lia Habel (Oct. 18, Del Rey)

Love conquers all, so they say. But can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria — a high-tech nation modeled on the manners and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible — until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

Swear, by Nina Malkin (Oct. 18, Simon Pulse)

A promise broken. A bond betrayed. It’s been six months since ghost-turned golem Sinclair Youngblood Powers confessed his love, stole Dice’s heart, and disappeared from Swoon, perhaps from existence. Despite the hurt, Dice has been moving steadily toward ordinary. The last thing Dice wants is to mess with anything remotely supernatural. But when her best friend’s boyfriend goes missing, Dice knows his disappearance was no accident, and it somehow has everything to do with Sin. Because Dice can feel it: Sin is back. Second in the Swoon series.

Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk (Oct. 18, Doubleday)

Eleven-year-old Madison finds herself in Hell, unsure of why she will be there for all eternity, but trying to make the best of it. The author described the novel as “if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume.” And “it’s kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell.”

Seizure, by Kathy Reichs (Oct. 18, Razorbill)

Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they’ve turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack. But now the very place that brought them together — the Loggerhead Island Research Institute — is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it.

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater (Oct. 18, Scholastic)

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

 

Week Four

Destined, by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast (Oct. 25, St. Martin’s Griffin)

The forces of Light and Dark collide as their epic struggle focuses on Tulsa’s House of Night. Zoey is home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side and preparing to face off against Neferet. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx’s gift of a human form, he and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together if Rephaim can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father’s shadow. But is Zoey really safe? Ninth in the House of Night series.

Crave, by Melissa Darnell (Oct. 25, Harlequin)

Savannah Colbert has been shunned all her life by the kids of the Clann. And when she undergoes some drastic changes after a strange illness, Savannah learns secrets about the group and about herself — dangerous secrets. For the Clann are powerful magic users, and Savannah herself is half Clann and half vampire — a forbidden, unheard of combination. Falling for Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman isn’t just a bad idea — it could be deadly if anyone finds out.

Between the Sea and the Sky, by Jaclyn Dolamore (Oct. 25, Bloomsbury)

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren — the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn’t seen since childhood — a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship — and ignite their emotions.

The Iron Knight, by Julie Kagawa (Oct. 25, Harlequin Teen)

My name — my True Name — is Ashallayn’darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl. Fourth in the Iron Fey series.

Scored, by Lauren McLaughlin (Oct. 25, Random House/Young Readers)

Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids are given a “score” that determines their future potential. Scored‘s reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend’s score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future?

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow, by Daniel Nayeri (Oct. 25, Candlewick)

A quartet of novellas written entirely on an iPhone. Straw House: A Western set in a land where a rancher grows soulless humans and a farmer grows living toys. Wood House: Plunges the reader into a future where reality and technology blend imperceptibly, and a teenage girl must race to save the world from a nano-revolution that a corporation calls “ReCreation Day.” Brick House: A squad of “wish police” and a team of unlikely detectives. Blow: A comedic love story told by none other than Death himself, a handsome and charismatic hero who may steal your heart in more ways than one.

Mastiff, by Tamora Pierce (Oct. 25, Random House)

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt — if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal. Third in the Beka Cooper series.

The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Phantom, by L.J. Smith (Oct. 25, HarperTeen)

The past is never far. Elena Gilbert and her friends saved Fell’s Church from evil spirits bent on destroying it, but the town’s freedom came at a price: Damon Salvatore’s life. Damon’s death changes everything. He and his vampire brother, Stefan, had been locked in a vicious battle for Elena’s heart. Now that he’s gone, Elena and Stefan can finally be together. So why can’t Elena stop dreaming of Damon?

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, edited by Chris Van Allsburg (Oct. 25, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

An inspired collection of short stories based on the original illustrations of Chris Van Allsburg in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, originally published in 1984, featuring work by Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade, by Maryrose Wood (Oct. 25, Balzer + Bray)

A dark, gothic tale of romance… and murder. The latest book in the grippingly dark series, The Poison Diaries. Our heroine, Jessamine, has lost her faith in the men she loved, and her innocence as well. She turns to the dark side and plots to kill her father, using his own poisons, before becoming an assassin, a poisoner for hire. Can she recover from her heartache and reunite with her true love, Weed? Find out in this thrilling story where poisons, darkness and horror are a part of everyday life, and love is the only cure. Second in the Poison Diaries series.


Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.

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